Albert Edward Gray FRSA 1871-1959

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In addition Edward Gray was appointed Chairman of a Committee which established the Stoke-on-Trent Art Gallery. The original Art Gallery was organised by Edward Gray and Dr John Russell, who contributed the original pictures, and it was then known as the 'Russell Gallery' and was based in Pall Mall, Hanley. The family connection continued with Robin Gray becoming a member of the Works of Art Sub-Committee of the Museum and Fine Arts Committee.

A.E.Gray & Co.Ltd. was a member of the British Pottery Manufacturers Federation and Edward Gray, in addition to being Chairman of the Arts and Designs Committee for many years, was the Federation's representative on the Industrial Arts Committee of the Federation of British Industries (now the CBI), working closely with both the Board of Trade and the Department of Overseas Trade. He was invited to be a member of Lord Gorell's Committee which was set-up in 1931 and whose recommendations led to the formation of the Council of Industrial Design in December 1944 (now the Design Council). Gray's interest in and promotion of Art and Industry extended to many organisations: Gray's Pottery was consistently present at the annual British Industries Fairs and he was a member of the Exhibitors Advisory Council; he was a Governor of the Register of Industrial Art Designers; a Committee member of the British Colour Council; a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and a member of the Society's Adjudication Committee on Pottery. As an acknowledged authority in this field, he was in constant demand for lectures and was one of the early broadcasters on the new BBC television service which opened at the Alexandra Palace in 1936.

But Gray's interests were not limited to the pottery industry. Throughout his life he was deeply concerned about the welfare of young people and regarded his appointment as a Justice of the Peace (More info) and Chairman of the Juvenile Court as an opportunity to assist young people who had come into conflict with the Law, to reform their ways and become good citizens. Once they had served their sentences, he invited them into his home and listened to their problems. He then endeavoured, by his undoubted capacity for persuasion, to help them to sort themselves out. He was always delighted with his many successes, but could never understand why he did not succeed in every case.

In the First World War, already well into his forties, he was Chairman of the Longsdon Rifle Club (Longsdon is a village near Leek in Staffordshire). In the Second World War and after, he was Chairman of the Stoke-on-Trent Executive Committee of the National Savings Movement, a member of the War Pensions Committee and Chairman of the Toc H Services Club (More info). He was a moving spirit in the foundation of the Rotary Club of Stoke-on-Trent in 1927 (see the website section Rotary Clubs). Major Frank Wedgwood, a descendant of the famous potter, was its first President, for the year 1927-28 and Edward Gray its second, for the year 1928-29. In 1932 he was appointed one of the Rotary Club representatives to assist the YMCA Unemployed Workshop Scheme. He designed the Club's banner and this was expertly embroidered by the Ladies section in 1938. His daughter Joan was a member of a Rotary Goodwill Mission which visited the United States and Canada in 1938-39.

In 1939, after the sad loss of two wives, Edward married for the third time. He and his new bride, Elsie Mackenzie Lamb, enjoyed twenty years of happy married life until his death in 1959.

In normal times the workforce of Gray's Pottery totalled about eighty, the vast majority being female. Edward Gray knew them all personally and he was very much of a father-figure. He took a personal interest in each one and many went to him with their problems. Concerned at one stage with the number of colds, which he thought might be due to a vitamin deficiency, he purchased a large quantity of malt and cod-liver oil extract, which he distributed. He was much loved for kindly eccentricities such as this and which showed how much he appreciated and cared for those working so conscientiously for the company. Photographs of Works' outings reveal the happy relationship between himself and those who worked with him. It is not surprising they were known as 'Gray's Angels', a name coined by Lady Cripps during a wartime visit to the Works.

Edward Gray was a very 'clubbable' man, with a strong sense of duty to society. He was in the first place an active member of every association connected with the pottery industry. When he had been established in The Potteries for less than ten years, he addressed The Ceramic Society on 'The Encouragement of Art in The Potteries' and proposed that a central art gallery and a central museum should be set up in Stoke-on-Trent, the five museums then existing being 'too small and cramped, and altogether too scattered'. This museum, he maintained, should be directly connected with the Schools of Art, with easy access for students. To have one single museum to visit would be much more convenient for pottery and other designers who lacked the time to visit one small museum after another. This dream was realised in 1956, with the creation of Stoke-on-Trent Museum and Art Gallery, now called The Potteries Museum and Art Gallery, based in Hanley. At the same time, he urged that an Art Section should be formed within The Ceramic Society. The printed record of this lecture and of the discussion which followed, concludes in these terms:
As the result of this discussion an Art Section of The Ceramic Society has been formed, of which Major Frank Wedgwood has accepted the Presidency.

The Transactions of The Ceramic Society, Vol XVII, Session 1917-18, pp159-180.
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