PHPI heads to Folkestone to visit Barry Bartley, a plumbing and heating engineer experiencing a busy time installing oil fired heating.

When we meet Barry and his son Matthew in their native Folkestone, business is busier than ever. In fact, Barry’s collecting a new oil boiler from his local merchant when we arrive. Operating in all the Kent postcodes and East Sussex, Barry carries out work on oil boiler and heating installations.

“Oil heating is currently a cheap option and is very popular in off-gas areas in Kent,” Barry says. “I am a Grant G-One installer and that means I can offer a five-year warranty on all my installations.”

Business is great and very busy, but away from work, Barry’s passion includes horse racing (his ambition is to visit every racecourse in Britain) and his love of cruises with partner Angela and their children and grandchildren. Talking with Barry about the heating technology available today, there is little doubt that things were a lot different when he started out in the plumbing trade.

“I started in the plumbing business way back in 1965 working for my father, Danzey Bartley, who established his own business, DT Bartley & Son, in 1952,” explains Barry. “When I first started there were no plastic pipes available, soil stacks were made of cast iron and iron pipe work was readily used for heating systems!”

DT Bartley & Son grew to the stage where it employed six plumbers. It provided Barry with a great grounding and education in the business. “At the beginning of my career there were pre-apprenticeship courses available, which I did for a year full time,” he explains. “Subjects I studied included plumbing, bricklaying and carpentry, alongside English, Maths, Geography and History. After this, I passed my plumbing advanced City & Guilds and continued on at night school to achieve my Technology and Technicians Certificate.”

That training and experience stood Barry in good stead and he is still clearly successful. Sadly, Barry’s father passed away in 2005 and Barry became a sole trader and, as an OFTEC registered installer, works alongside his youngest son Mathew, who is OFTEC registered to commission and service oil boilers. Barry mainly installs Grant Vortex models and he has seen advances in the oil heating industry. He’s one of around 1900 G-One accredited installers enrolled who are actively training on, and installing, Grant products.

Barry’s also looking forward to fitting his first VortexBlue, which incorporates a new blue flame Riello compact burner, which epitomises how modern oil-fired burner technologies can deliver and sustain cleaner, reliable heating. “When I started out most boilers were vaporising, with pressure jets being introduced later. The biggest advance in recent years is the move to condensing boilers and as far as I am concerned Grant is the leader in this advancement,” concludes Barry.

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