Records of Gray's Carpets Ltd, carpet manufacturers, Newton-on-Ayr, Scotland

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

Records relating to the management and day to day running of the company and its subsidiaries and records relating to the design process. Includes:  

  • Design Archive:
  • catalogues 1910s-1970s;
  • design photographs 1960s;
  • design lithographs 1960s-1970s.
  • Corporate Archive:
  • memoranda and articles of association 1926-1970;
  • minutes 1896-1973;
  • register of directors 1947-1970;
  • agreements and other legal records 1879-1974;
  • letter book 1876;
  • inventories 1967-1973;
  • order book c1960-1970;
  • trade price list 1972.

This description is part of the main  Stoddard International plc  collection which has been divided into the following sections, each with its own separate description:  

Administrative / Biographical History

In 1876 William C. Gray started producing carpets on two hand looms in a little shop in Carrick Street in Ayr. As production grew the company required larger premises and moved to a site in Newton-on-Ayr in 1877. It was on this site that the new factory would be built by the beginning of the 1880s. It appears that production increased in both amount and variety during the 1880s and 1890s. In 1880 Gray developed the Seamless Kidder Carpet. William C. Gray & Sons were producing such styles of carpet as 'Brussels Loop', 'Wilton Pile', 'Plain Weave Art Squares', and 'Chenille Axminster'. In 1886 Gray patented the Akbar Carpet, which was explained as a square produced with two beams.

In 1918 William C. Gray passed away and left the company to his three sons, Andrew Jardine Gray, Charles Smith Gray, and William Crawford Armstrong Gray. Andrew Gray was made chairman with his two brothers assisting him. The company continued to grow and in 1926 it was decided that William C. Gray & Sons was to trade as a limited firm. By 1928, only 10 years after the founding father of the company William. C. Gray had passed away, his son Charles Smith Gray also died.

The remaining two Gray brothers continued to steer the company towards success. By 1932 William C. Gray & Sons Ltd had flourished with showrooms in Glasgow, Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds, Dublin, and Belfast. There were also carpet representatives in the USA, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, Scandinavia, and Amsterdam.

However, this successful time was interrupted in 1939 by two events. Andrew Gray's death meant that the company was left to the final of William C. Gray's sons, William Crawford Armstrong Gray. William C.A. Gray was also joined on the board of directors by Robert Smith in 1940. Also, 1939 brought the disruption of World War II. It is not clear from the company records exactly what the factory at Newton-on-Ayr was used for between 1939 and1945. However, the records do mention that the sales restriction on carpets had a negative effect on profits during the 1940s and 1950s. The lowest financial point was in 1945 when the company was unable to pay their shareholders. The restrictions on trade also meant that William C. Gray & Sons Ltd were unable to reemploy a large number of their pre-war sales staff. However, the financial difficulties did not stop the company from purchasing £50,000 of shares in Woodward, Grosvenor & Co giving them control of the company.

There were also a number of changes to the board of directors between 1942 and 1946. In 1942 Colin Wilson Martin joined the board of directors and served until 1943. From 1943 until 1945 Robert Smith took over the role of chairman from William C.A. Gray. The board also gained four new members in 1945 including William Duncan C.A., James A. Faulkner, John H. Weir and William Whatmore. William C.A. Gray returned to the role of chairman during this same year.

By 1946 the board of directors entered a less stable phase with some major changes. William Duncan C.A. left and was replaced by Wilfred Clarence Sproson ASAA from Wolverhampton. William C.A. Gray stepped down as chairman and was succeeded by J. H. Weir. Gray also made clear his intention to resign from the company fully and on the 20 August 1947 the last direct descendant of William C. Gray left.

20 August 1947 was a key day for William C. Gray & Sons Ltd because a new group of men joined the board of directors who moved the company into a new era. These men included Major Edward Beddington Behrens, Sir Colin McVean Gubbins, John Stephenson, and Joseph Edward Oliver Arnold. Over the next few years the annual meeting that had always been held at the factory in Newton-on-Ayr was moved to a privately owned flat in London. The board of directors also set up a new company under the name Gray's Carpets and Textiles. This company consisted of a number of British and Irish manufacturers specialising in carpets and textiles. It appears that around this time William C. Gray & Sons Ltd began to be closely tied into Gray's Carpets and Textiles, although it still traded as a separate company.

William C. Gray & Sons Ltd continued to trade under the same name until the purchase of Norman Shaw & Co Ltd in Elland for £94,500 in 1947. It was at this point of owning a third carpet manufacturer that the company changed its name to the Gray Group. Production continued and the board underwent further changes through the 1950s and early 1960s. It appears that during these years that the Gray Group had shares in a German carpet manufacturer because they sold the shares to their parent company Gray's Carpets and Textiles.

In 1967 the Gray Group became Gray's Carpets Ltd and there was another new intake of board members. The list included W.D. Reeve, A.N. Stephenson, J.B.G. Gilchrist, R.L. Smith, G.I. Crowther, R.N.V. Tomkinson, and G.T. Morris. Two years later both W.D. Reeve and Sir Colin McVean Gubbins retired. In 1968,  James Templeton & Co Ltd acquired the entire share issue of Gray's Carpets and Textiles, which Gray's Carpets Ltd belonged to. Gray's Carpets Ltd continued to trade until 1971 when the factory was closed.

Arrangement

The records have been arranged within two main series: the design associated records and the corporate archive. Records are arranged chronologically in series within these two main headings.

Conditions Governing Access

Open

Conditions Governing Use

Applications for permission to quote should be sent to the Archivist.

Reproduction subject to usual conditions: educational use and condition of documents

Bibliography

No known publications using this material

Additional Information

Description compiled in line with the following international standards: International Council on Archives, ISAD(G) Second Edition, September 1999 and National Council on Archives, Rules for the construction of personal, place and corporate names

Scotland is the location of all place names in the administrative/biographical history element, unless otherwise stated.

Design associated records descriptions compiled by Sam Maddra, Project Archivist (Stoddard-Templeton Design Archive), June 2011. Corporate archive descriptions compiled by Kimberly Sommerville, Project Archivist (Stoddard-Templeton Corporate Archive), May 2011.

Geographical Names