Who was Little Miss Barber? 12

Check out these West Midlands signs featuring a character called Little Miss Barber. But who was she?

She appears on painted advertisements for Barber’s, Orantips and Twinings teas but besides these photos there seems to be no record of this energetic tea promoter. More images can be viewed in this Flickr gallery, any help finding information about Little Miss Barber and her portfolio of brands would be much appreciated, just leave a comment on this post if you know anything or get in touch.

Orantips, Stafford Street, Walsall, by Trevira

Twinings, Shaftmoor Lane, Birmingham, by co-ophistorian

  • CarolineLD

    >My Dad remembers Barbers Tea as a local company when he grew up in Staffordshire in the 1940s/50s. He thinks Little Miss Barber was their advertising character.

  • CarolineLD

    >Only drinking it as a child – he doesn't remember anything more about the company, unfortunately.

  • michelle

    >i have just picked up a tea ladle which is stamped with little miss barber and her photo from a op shop in australia

  • Jo S.

    >I was researching an old tea caddy that I bought at a car boot, and found this site. You may be interested in the caddy. It's covered in old-fashioned views of country cottages and then I realised that one of them had been 'doctored' to show a Barber's Teas Ghost sign! I've taken a not-very-good photo of it but I'm not sure how to post it. From the clothes the people in the pictures are wearing, I'd say it was 40's or 50's.

  • Terry

    >We had a tea spoon for taking tea from the caddy to the pot in the shape of Little Miss Barber,her head was the handle and her skirt was dished to form the bowl.Sadly it was lost when moving house,hence my serching the net to trace the history of her and a possible replacement…Terry J.

  • Anonymous

    >To Terry Feb. 27,2011.
    I have a little Miss Barbers tea caddy spoon.
    My E'mail address is d3cky@talktalk.net

  • Anonymous

    >To Terry J. Feb 27,2011
    I have a Little Miss Barber teacaddy spoon.
    My E'Mail address is d3cky@talktalk.net
    Derek r.

  • Here’s a digital restoration of a sister sign to this series in West Bromwich: https://twitter.com/paperdollmedia/status/426129707005116416/photo/1

  • Some great archival photographs showing some of the locations here: http://www.photobydjnorton.com/GTC/KingsHeath.html

  • Allan Newton shared this photo of one of the products advertised on these signs.

  • David Mc

    Hi, I worked for Barbers Teas in the original building at the bottom of Ladywell Walk and Pershore street in Birmingham…just down from the Birmingham Hippodrome in Hurst Street. I started work there in 1958/9 for about 3.5 years as a blender. I ended up as chargehand organising the clipboard blends and cutting of the different teas on the top floor. There was the top floor for tipping the various teas through the hoppers to the cutters below, the next floor was the huge drum which “caught” the tea leaves and mixed them as it rotated. Then the tea was fed into tea chests and stored according to number in rows. The same floor was used to feed the various blends into hoppers which was then “packed” by several girls on the floor below. Below that was the stores warehouse. Salesmen would take selected packages (as required by customers) load them into small vans and take them to each customer, restaurant, cafĂ© etc.
    Barber’s Coffee was also roasted on the top floor by two men who loaded the beans into two huge 4/5 foot diameter trays which had gas burners underneath. A very skilled job to recognise when the beans were roasted sufficiently for packaging.
    During my time there, part of my job was to “create” very strong, condensed tea, chill it by the gallon and sell it to Birmingham restaurants. It almost succeeded but the quantity needed by our customers couldn’t be maintained. The idea was to avoid our customers from having wasted tea leaves on their property. One desert spoonful would make a very fresh cuppa without the need for a tea strainer. All these “plans” went to the wall when Twinings took over and I was made redundant in late 1961.
    During our lunch breaks in summer, a few of us lads would go on the flat roof of Barbers to relax and take our sandwiches. I have just a few photos of that time which included me and “Little Miss Barber”…a painting on the wall which housed the lift for each floor.
    The owners of the company were partners: Mr Waugh and the senior partner, Stanley Fairclough(?) Mr Waugh was the tea taster for the company.
    If I remember correctly, Twinings eventually made plans to move the company to Poland just a few years ago.
    As for the history of “Little Miss Barber” and where “she” originated from, I have no recollection of ever asking at the time but it was the best job I ever had…My wages eventually reached 2/6d per hour just before redundancy and my hours were 54 / 56 per week which included a Saturday morning.
    The Typhoo company was less than a mile away
    It wasn’t tea bags then…It was sachets and they were awful with the taste of paper and loaded with tea dust. Far inferior to the tea bags of today.

    • Great to hear these stories, do you have any photos of your days with the firm?