Decades of putting together people’s furniture has taken John Fry into hundreds of homes.

Now Barker and Stonehouse’s longest serving fitter is retiring after a successful 40 years of service.

John, 58, of Norton, was only 18 when he began working with us after studying mechanical engineering at a local technical college.

He said: “I’ve always been good at putting things together with my hands so putting furniture together as a job seemed to be the natural fit, shall we say!”


Working mainly from Barker and Stonehouse’s Middlesbrough store, John’s work has seen him travel up and down the country building furniture for everyone from royalty and rock stars to famous athletes.

“I’ve certainly clocked up some miles! I’ve worked everywhere from ordinary terraced houses to million pound homes – it’s been a great ride.”

John said that over the past 40 years, he has made some fantastic memories, including the time he had to carry a mattress up a spiral staircase with a colleague and ‘ended up looking like Laurel and Hardy’.

“There’s been ups and downs but I’ve made a lot of friends – some have come and gone but Barker and Stonehouse has been a great company to work for and I’ve met some amazing people,” he said.

John is now looking forward to spending time with his family and friends but isn’t ready to give up working just yet: “There’s a third of an acre out the back to start with – it’s like a jungle!”

James Barker, Managing Director here at Barker and Stonehouse, said: “People like John are always difficult to replace and he’ll be missed by all of us here, especially as we’re celebrating our 70th anniversary this year.

“John was a big part of our journey and we’d like to thank him for his hard work and commitment.  We wish him the very best for a long and happy retirement.”