Norbar History

Family History

In 1942, at the height of World War II, Bill Brodey was engaged in selling various tools and machines. Torque wrenches were being imported from America and sold to manufacture Rolls Royce Merlin aero engines. The UK government was keen to manufacture in the UK wherever possible to reduce pressure on the Atlantic supply convoys. Consequently, permission was granted to ‘the North Bar Tool Company’ to start manufacturing torque wrenches in ‘North Bar Place,’ Banbury in the United Kingdom.

In 1952, Bill Brodey’s eldest son Ian joined the company. Ian was a graduate in Mechanical Engineering from Loughborough College of Technology and brought a new level of professionalism to the company’s engineering activity, producing drawings for all components for the first time and expanding the product range. In 1957, Bills younger son John joined the North Bar Tool Company as the first full time salesman.

The current Directors are the Grandchildren of the founder, Bill Brodey. Neill Brodey, Managing Director, joined Norbar in 1987 following a degree in Mechanical Engineering from Loughborough University and having worked at Coles Cranes and Harris Graphics. Philip Brodey, our former Sales and Marketing Director joined in 1991 and recently retired. In September 2011 Catherine Rohll joined the company as Commercial Director, taking over this role from Craig Brodey who relocated to Singapore to become Commercial Director of Norbar torque Tools PTE Ltd.

Site History

In 1942, at the height of World War II the UK Government was keen to manufacture in the UK wherever possible to reduce pressure on the Atlantic supply convoys. Consequently, permission was granted ‘the North Bar Tool Company’ to start manufacturing torque wrenches in ‘North Bar Place,’ Banbury in the United Kingdom. The address ‘North Bar’ gave the company its name and this was later contracted to ‘Norbar’.

1969 saw the company’s first address change bringing with it the official change in name from ‘the North Bar Tool Company’ to ‘Norbar’ (which had previously been used as a telegraphic address.) The new premises on Swan Close, Banbury, were originally 9,000 sq.ft but were extended twice before being outgrown and Norbar moved again to Beaumont Road, Banbury in 1984.

A major extension to this site in 1989 took the floor area to 45,000 sq.ft and further extensions and mezzanine work give a current day total of 52,000 sq.ft of production and office space.

In March 2012, Norbar exchanged contracts with Hella Ltd to purchase its 170,000 sq.ft Wildmere Road site in a move which will see Norbar relocate completely by 2016 and Hella move to new premises in the Banbury area.

Product History

Bill Brodey traded a variety of tools, including Joseph Sunnen honing machines for engine cylinder bores. Recognizing the risk of cylinder bore distortion due to uneven torque in engine bolts, he imported and sold torque wrenches alongside honing machines.

In 1942, amid World War II, Brodey imported torque wrenches from America for manufacturing Rolls Royce Merlin aero engines. The UK’s focus on local production led to the North Bar Tool Company obtaining permission to manufacture torque wrenches in Banbury, UK.

Post-WWII, the North Bar Tool Company, faced with a declining market for Merlin aero engines, pivoted to crafting household items. As industry revived, they returned to their aerospace roots, producing specialized fitting tools and torque wrenches.

In 1952, Bill Brodey’s son Ian expanded the product line. A 1953 project with GKN introduced the ‘Torshear’ bolting method, incorporating a splined bolt and shear groove. Despite being unsuccessful, North Bar adapted with reaction arms, resulting in products like PneuTorque® and HandTorque®. 

Early Sunnen Tension Wrench from Norbar

Early Sunnen Torque Wrench

Dr. H.E. Merritt’s influence extended to the ‘Slimline’ torque wrench in 1963, a precursor to Norbar’s current torque wrenches. The company’s torque testers evolved from spring balance to hydraulic cell and, eventually, electronic analyzers.

In 1989, Norbar achieved the first UK torque laboratory accreditation by ‘NAMAS.’ In 1995, UKAS took over accreditation. Since 1996, Norbar expanded globally, establishing overseas offices, starting with Norbar Torque Tools Pty. Ltd in Australia, followed by the United States, Singapore, and China. Each office has a calibration laboratory with local accreditation.

Norbar in the current day

Norbar is now a member of the Snap-on Incorporated family of companies and is proud to be part of a business which has beliefs, values and a vision closely aligned with those that Norbar was founded on. We still strive to be “The best torque tool company in the world. Respected, profitable and a great place to work.

Does torque tool accuracy matter to you?
Call the Norbar team on +61 (08) 8292 9777