Gray's of Edinburgh

89 George Street

Gang of Labourers

Around 1880

A Gang of Workers from James Gray & Son, Edinburgh  -  Photo taken around 1880

  Reproduced with acknowledgement to Allan Dodds, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, England


Gray's of Edinburgh

Thank you to Allan Dodds for allowing me to reproduce the photograph above.

Allan wrote:

Gang of Labourers

"I've just unearthed this photo of my Great Grandfather. He was Foreman of a gang of labourers who made wrought iron railings and garden furniture at Gray's of George Street.

He is the one third from the right in the front row with his sleeves rolled up.

The photo was taken somewhere around 1880 or thereabouts. The two Apprentices sitting at the front were probably only fourteen years of age."

Allan Dodds, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, England:  October 12, 2012

Brief History

Gray's of Edinburgh (also known as James Gray & Son) has certainly changed over the years.

For most of the time that I have been in Edinburgh (since 1963) it has been a large old fashioned hardware store selling  a range of kitchen appliances and a wide variety of cooking and household utensils.  The shop had a fireplace department and a kitchen design department on the upper floors and a small diy and gardening department in the basement.

Unfortunately, after 190 years' trading, the company closed recently.  The company:

-  opened in Leith Wynd in 1818.

-  moved to 85 George Street in 1850.

-  moved again to 89 George Street in 1903.

-  closed in March  2010.

Peter Stubbs:  October 18, 2012

Early Years

I don't know where the photograph above would have been taken, or where these labourers would have been based around 1880, but a browse through editions of the Edinburgh & Leith Post Office Directory would no doubt provide the answer.

The earliest edition of the directory that I have at home is the 1903 edition.  It includes an entry for

GRAY, JAMES & SON,  furnishing ironmongers, stove and grate makers to the Late Queen Victoria, 85 George Street;  Telegraph 'Grates Edinburgh'; Telephone 2018.  See Adv. Index.

Here is an extract from the advert referred to above:

The Leading Establishment out of London

Established 1818


(Sole Partner - R A DOUGLAS)

With whom is incorporated


Purveyors of Lamps and Oils to the King

-      -      -

Furnishing Ironmongers, Kitchen Range Makers, Safe Makers, Locksmiths, Gas, Hot Water, and Electrical Engineers,  Plumbers,  and Bellhangers

89 George Street, Edinburgh

-      -      -


The great success and High Reputation acquired by JAMES GRAY & SON is largely due to the Special Care and Substantial Manner in which they carry out the whole work.


Estimates furnished to include ALL CHARGES at the Lowest Possible Cost



Highest Standard of Quality                                                 Prices most Moderate

Peter Stubbs:  October 18, 2012




Allan Dodds

Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, England

Allan Dodds, who sent the photo at the top of this page, emailed me again today to say:

Grays' Workers

    A Gang of Workers from James Gray & Son, Edinburgh  -  Photo taken around 1880

"I've been doing some digging and have ascertained from the records that my Great Grandfather was born in 1842 and was employed as Foreman Blacksmith at Gray's of Edinburgh.

The workers in the picture would have included time-served tradesmen as well as labourers and apprentices.

My Great Grandfather's family lived in Colville Place which is in the Colonies at Stockbridge.

The Colonies, Stockbridge

    Reid Terrace, Stockbridge, Edinburgh  -  an engraving based on a photograph by Ross & Pringle

The Colonies was a working class district then but is quite trendy now.  A house there costs around 300,000 nowadays."

Allan Dodds, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, England:  October 20, 2012


Groups of Workers

Around Edinburgh