Gray & Sons Ltd

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The brewery c1984. Courtesy Ian Peaty
The brewery c1984. Courtesy Ian Peaty
Grays sign aa.jpg
Gray letterhead chelmsfords.jpg
Gray Chelmsford.jpg
Grays Chelmsford label zx.jpg

Gray & Sons (Brewers) Ltd, Springfield Road, Chelmsford, Essex.

Founded 1828 by Charles Stanton Gray. Registered 1957. Name changed to Gray & Sons (Chelmsford) Ltd. 1973.

Chelmsford brewery closed September 1974 and their 49 public houses now operate as free houses.

Brewery buildings remain, converted to commercial and retail use.

Gray & Sons Ltd, Maldon Brewery, Gate Street, Maldon, Essex.

The Maldon brewery was acquired in about 1896 and brewing ceased there in 1952. Site for auction 1954.

From ESSEX BREWERS - The Malting and Hop Industries of the County by Ian P Peaty 1992 now out of print ISBN 978 1 873966 02 4

W. Gray and Sons, Springfield Road.

Charles Stanton Gray founded the Springfield Road brewery in 1828 alongside the Black Boy Inn and Brewery, partly on the site of the Black Boy (Chelmsford), judging by the sale description of 1818, although this has not been confirmed by any sale documents to Mr Gray. Charles S. Gray died in 1878, his son Walter continued the business until his death in 1879. In 1859 C.S. Gray had built the Halsted Brewery in Tidings Hill, Halsted, and sold it to Thomas F. Adams on 5th July, 1876. The business at Chelmsford later traded as Walter Gray and Sons up until 1958, when the name changed to Gray and Sons (Brewers) Ltd., trading as such for fifteen years. Mr G. Herbert Gray, Great Uncle to the present Managing Director Mr R. Michael Gray, died in 1952 and Michael Gray's Grandfather, Percy Harrison Gray, died in 1958. On the death in 1969 of Thomas Raymond Gray, the son of Percy, crippling death duties necessitated the closure of the brewing operation and the sale of the brewery premises. This took place in September, 1974, bottling having ceased the previous year.

The company did not have a registered trade mark, although there is a statue of a Phoenix still intact in a circular plaque on the wall of the malthouse kiln, facing the River Chelmer. There is the date 1801 on this emblem also on a much larger Phoenix statue recovered from the river in the 1930's, this is now situated outside the entrance to the firms offices and depot at Galleywood, Chelmsford. It is understood that the Phoenix Insurance Company used part of these Black Boy premises. In 1966 the River Chelmer was partly diverted beside the Brewery House but by so doing evidently the Elm raft foundations dried out and the house in which Herbert Gray had once lived had to be demolished. A well on the site was 136 feet deep, bored by C.J. Cowell, with two further wells in the earliest of the two malthouses which backed onto the Black Boy. This is a three storeyed building which still has its kiln roof, with a cast iron derrick fixed to the front wall over the public footpath. On the opposite side of the "U" shaped complex is the second and largest malthouse of four storeys, complete with a central lucarne.

In 1903 a fire caused damage, including to the Cornish boiler installed in 1870 - after repairs it lasted in use up until replaced in 1966. Part of the site was demolished, but most of its has been sympathetically converted into retail shops. In 1889 a new copper mash tun was installed by Llewellins and James of Bristol and a steam engine built by E.S. Hindley of Bourton, Dorset, was approved by the Local Board in 1860 and was still in-situ in 1974.

Walter Gray and Sons, Maldon Brewery, Gate Street.

The address was also variously known as Back lane and Coach Office Lane. The brewery was first advertised for sale in the Morning Chronicle on 18th May, 1808. The trade at that time was 3,000 barrels per annum but evidently "capable of great improvement". The sale description indicated that "The brewery comprised a compact and very complete brew house with malt and hop chambers, store cellars and stabling, excellent and well constructed utensils for the dispatch of the business, the whole newly erected, also a malting and a great dwelling house with offices, garden and rich pastures containing about 13 acres and 6 public houses in full trade". Application for viewing was to be made to Mr Wells at the brew house.

Ten years later it was up for sale again in January, 1818, when details included two 4" pumps, a 3/4" barrel engine pump, with one horse power capable of raising 20 hogshead of liquor per hour from the 100 ft deep well; a malt mill, mash tun of 3 1/2 quarters; a 280 gallon copper. A John Pitcairn and his family lived in an adjacent house in 1855 which eventually became the brewery Tap House , called The Carpenter's Arms, this building dating back to at least 1684. The Whites Directory for 1863 lists along with John Pitcairn, also his son David, as Brewers. Walter Gray and Sons of Chelmsford purchased the brewery and some of the tied estate of public houses in 1896, when it was known as the Maldon Brewery (previously Malden).

A trade advertisement of 1910 gave prominance to the towns Coat of Arms, with a list of spirits and cordials supplied, with the following range of beers available in cask sizes from barrel (36 gals) to Pins ( 4 1/2 gals ). Stock Ale :- XXXO. Bitter Ale:- B.A. Mild Ales :- XXX and XX; Stout and Porter. During the period c.1886, a Mr Edmund Hyland was the brewery manager. The production finally ceased in 1952 with the premises put up for sale in London on 3rd June, 1954.

Despite the closure, licenses were granted in 1955 to Percy Harrison Gray and Thomas Raymond Gray, for The Brewery, Gate Street. The site of the brewery premises has been redeveloped

The brewery in 1980:

The brewery in 1985:

An assortment of images of the brewery

Labels etc