Albert Edward Gray FRSA 1871-1959

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...and it should not be forgotten that when war broke out, Edward Gray was already 68 years old, an age when most men have retired, and 75 at the end of the war. Throughout this period he continued as Chairman and Managing Director. Immediately the restrictions were removed (and completely by 1952), Gray's Pottery resuscitated some of the pre-war designs, and with the aid of Art Director Sam Talbot developed many new ones. Soon his workforce was fully restored to its normal level and once again production was in full swing. As soon as this had been achieved, Edward Gray decided to retire from the arduous post of Managing Director, while remaining Chairman of the Board. Robin Gray and Sam Talbot were appointed Joint Managing Directors in 1947. Edward and Elsie Gray then left The Potteries and settled in West Sussex in a charming oak-beamed cottage virtually unchanged since Tudor times, with its own well and clematis round the door.

The Second World War proved a particularly difficult period for the British pottery industry and Gray's Pottery was no exception. Severe restrictions were placed on the production of decorated pottery...
In 1941, British pottery production was subject to a Concentration Scheme whereby individual firms were classified as: nucleus, concentrated or closed-down. In 1942, maximum retail prices were set and letters such as A, B or C incorporated in the backstamp. The Scheme was revised in 1945 and additional letter groups BY, CY and CZ created. For full details, see Ten Plain Years: The British Pottery Industry 1942-1952, Kathy Niblett, Journal of the Northern Ceramic Society Volume 12 1995, pp175-213.
This cottage in the depths of the country enjoyed dramatic views across the fields to the towering height of Black Down, and was some four miles from Haslemere. Many of Edward's childhood holidays had been spent at a nearby farm and personal friendships had been maintained. He enjoyed to the full the peace of the countryside, but it was within easy reach of London and he remained as active as ever. As Chairman of the Board, he continued to go regularly to Stoke-on-Trent and attended numerous committee meetings in London. He travelled extensively to Egypt, Cyprus and the United States of America. It was only on reaching his 85th birthday that he began to reduce these activities and to resign his membership of the various committees. The replies expressed deepest regret that he was doing so - even at that age - and underlined the very great contribution he had made over the years and the esteem in which he was held. At Easter time 1959, just before his 88th birthday, whilst at West Wittering on the Sussex coast, he appeared in bathing trunks ready to go for a swim! He was finally persuaded that the sea really was cold, and settled for a long paddle instead!

In 1959, Mrs Susan Cooper-Willis, daughter of Sir Clough Williams-Ellis, the founder and architect of Portmeirion and an old friend of Edward Gray, made an offer to purchase the business of A.E.Gray & Co.Ltd. After much anxious deliberation and consultation with his fellow Directors, he agreed.

It was the last decision he was to take. He suffered a severe heart attack and died peacefully a fortnight later on 29th July 1959 at the age of 88. He had kept the spirit of youthful zest to the end and, as his sister remarked at his funeral: "What a pity he died so young!" He is buried in the churchyard at St Laurence's, Lurgashall, West Sussex and, appropriately, a mosaic marks his grave.
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Edward enjoyed the fruits of his labours in the garden as this prize marrow shows!