When Oliver Barnard took his first tentative steps into the transport industry in 1909 the introduction of the car to Stowmarket was still a few years away and little could he have known the company would go on to become one of East Anglia’s leading privately owned companies. Oliver Barnard started out with two horses and one wagon, offering day trips and outings to destinations such as Great Yarmouth.
Operating from a site on Station Road, on which Barnards Volkswagen still stands on today, Oliver introduced Model ‘T’ Fords to Stowmarket in 1921 and by 1931 the company was selling Vauxhalls and Bedfords and Chevrolet cars and trucks, as well as building their own bus bodies. As it was formerly known, O. G Barnard and Sons became authorised Volkswagen and Audi dealers in 1980, this complemented the existing range of Mercedes cars which they had been selling since 1931. Throughout these early years the motor business operated hand in hand with the haulage side of the business.
It was Oliver’s son, Jack Barnard who formed the foundations of the haulage business in 1959 when he was asked if he knew where 12000 tons of Cuban sugar could be stored. Against all family advice, he purchased an aircraft hangar at Mendlesham Airfield to store the sugar, it was the ensuing rent that went some way to convincing the family that there was a future in warehousing.
Under the leadership of Oliver’s grandson Harley Barnard, the logistics side of the company, Taylor Barnard, became one of the largest privately owned warehousing and distribution companies in the UK. After the sale of Taylor Barnard in September 2000 Harley continued the family interest in the car side of the business in his role of Chairman. In more recent times change has now seen Paul Barnard, his son and great grandson of Oliver appointed Managing Director of the business now called Marriott Motor Group.
So where did the Marriott Motor Group name come from? With the sale of Taylor Barnard the company had to divide into divisions and a new trading name was given. After many ideas Harley Barnard came up with Marriott Motor Group. Marriotts Walk, Stowmarket was where the Barnard family had its family home during for most of the twentieth century and was a fitting tribute.