Albert Edward Gray FRSA 1871-1959
Edward Gray believed that certain of the designs should be established as 'permanent', that is to say customers could be assured that they would be able to obtain replacements over a long period of years, a policy often referred to as a 'matchings' service. It was not possible to carry large stocks and fortunately hand-painted items could be repeated much more easily than those which were mechanically produced. Nevertheless, although it was not really economic to make short runs for this purpose, undoubtedly it made for substantial sales in the long term. Exports were an important element in the company's production, particularly to the United States of America and Canada. It was especially pleasing to be with Edward Gray when he saw a fine display of Gray's Pottery in the Smithsonian Museum in Washington DC in 1954. He formed a close friendship with Sir Ambrose Heal and with Harry Trethowan, Managing Director of Heal's Wholesale and Export Ltd., known to his friends as 'H.T.'. It was a great partnership and years later, in a letter dated 23rd May 1951, the eve of Edward Gray's 80th birthday, Harry was to say:
Other firms with whom Gray's Pottery co-operated in compatible designs included Harrods, John Lewis, Maples, Peter Jones, Thomas Goode, Waring & Gillow and William Whiteley (see the website section Retailers).
In the 1920s, Gray's Pottery was promoted in London at the showrooms of Mr J.W.Stonier, 13 Charterhouse Street, EC1 (More info). In December 1929 Gray opened a London showroom of his own at 29 Hatton Garden: this provided an excellent base for local and overseas sales (More info). John Gray, Edward's nephew, was in charge of this until he joined the Navy in 1940. In October of that year, following the heavy bombing of London, it was decided to close this showroom and it was not re-opened. Gray's Pottery exhibited at all but the last British Industries Fair throughout its existence from 1915 to 1952. The British Royal Family regularly visited the stand and made substantial purchases. King George V ordered outsize cups for his breakfast coffee.
By 1933 the Glebe Works site in Hanley was too small for the volume of production and in that year more modern and spacious works in Whieldon Road, Stoke-upon-Trent, were purchased. At the same time the company adopted the style of Gray's Pottery as its trading name. A new extension (More info) was added to these works in 1952 which provided a dignified entrance and showroom. An imposing blue & white mosaic of the Gray 'Clipper' backstamp, designed by Geoffrey Corn of Johnsons Tiles, was incorporated in the upper section of the north wall (More info).
In order to ensure supplies of pottery for A.E.Gray & Co.Ltd., Edward Gray purchased an interest in the Kirklands Pottery at Etruria, Stoke-on-Trent, in 1936.
I must write you on this day, for it was a rare May 24th that produced you, and you have made your fine contribution by your good life, to Home & Empire.
The Pottery Gazette, 1 March 1938. Company Notes: Kirklands (Etruria) Ltd - Registered No 336,235 - Private company. Registered capital £12,500 in £1 shares. Objects: to acquire the business of an earthenware manufacturer carried on by H.S.Kirkland at Albion Pottery, Etruria, Stoke-on-Trent, as 'Kirkland & Co'.
In addition to its own products, it produced specialised shapes for Gray's Pottery to decorate. The Directors were Harry Kirkland, A.E.Gray and R.E.(Robin) Gray. Robin joined the Merchant Navy in 1940 for the duration of the war. Owing to wartime restrictions, Kirklands was obliged to cease manufacture and was used as a warehouse.