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Northern Briars

Northern Briars pipes are currently made by Ian Walker, who is a 3rd generation pipe maker, his pipe skills started with his grandfather, George Walker.

George Walker started his pipe making career working for Duncan Briars in England in 1922 and by 1931 he became the factory foreman, where he was in charge of training the staff of pipe makers and finishers. In 1958 he left Duncan Briars after 36 years in charge to start a pipe repair service with his son, Peter. Together they repaired pipes for tobacconists all over the UK becoming the go to service for all shops.

In 1972, Ian left school and started to work in the family business. His first day at work he had to sweep the floor of the workshop, clean machinery and make coffee before he was finally allowed to polish some pipes. After his first day, Ian was told by his father to go home, change his clothes and go to his grandfather's house where he spent the evening making silver rings for pipes from a silver sheet.

In 1983 Ian's parents bought a Tobacconist shop in Heaton Moor, Stockport, England. By this time Ian was doing all the repairs and was known as the top repairman in the UK. One day Ian decided to start making pipes for his parents' shop - the pipes were extremely successful, so much so that he started making pipes for other local shops. Soon after he met Bill Taylor of Ashton pipes who encouraged Ian to continue making pipes and helped him along the way.

With the help of Bill, Ian did his first trade show for Tobacconist and Pipe Clubs all over the UK in 1999. He was given the honour to create the pipe for the 2005 British Pipe Smoking Championship, he had to make 50 pipes which were exactly the same. By 2006 his pipes were becoming extremely popular and he started doing trade shows overseas including Germany and the USA - these trips were hugely successful.

All Northern Briar pipes are completely hand made by Ian himself and all have hand cut stems, he uses Italian Briar from the same source as Bill Taylor. These days he lives with his wife on a canal boat with his workshop taking up some of the boat. Under British Law, he can only be moored at one spot for two weeks, so every fortnight, he has to move his house and workshop to a new location on a canal or river in Britain.

Not being one to follow the crowd, Ian creates very unique looking pipes. He calls his rustic designed pipes Rox Cut, they are deeper than most rustic designs and incredibly beautiful too. He also has two groups that label his pipes. The first is his Premier series which are his high end, more exciting pipes, and then the Regal series but both are of the utmost quality. Interestingly all of Ian’s pipe stems are hand cut either from Vulcanite or Cumberland rod stock.

Click here to view the range of Northern Briar pipes

Written by Oliver Partington

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