|H.J. Gray, Founder|
|Products||Field hockey equipment, Rackets racquets, Real Tennis racquets, Cricket equipment, Rugby Equipment, Netball equipment, Teamwear, Footwear|
Grays International (Grays) is a sporting goods manufacturing company, based in Cambridge, England. The company was founded in 1855 by rackets champion H. J. Gray, producing equipment for hockey, rackets and cricket.
The Grays brand was founded in Cambridge by the world champion racquets professional, H J (Harry) Gray in 1855 and remains a family business to this day. Harry learnt his racquets at the University Arms Tavern and was later racquets professional at the St Johns College courts from 1858 - 1895. He was the eldest of 5 brothers who all became racquets professionals; 3 of whom became world champions (Harry, William and Joseph).
He was joined in the business by his sons Horace George; setting up a factory in Searle Street, Cambridge; and William Henry in the London office in Hatton Garden. The firm soon became renowned for a wide range of sporting equipment crafted from wood, most notably racquets. It continues to manufacture wooden frames for rackets and real tennis in the firm's former sawmill in Coton Cambridge today.
Then known as H J Gray and sons, the firm expanded during the 20th Century from its new site in Benson Street Cambridge, which operated until its closure in 1986. Horace's sons, Harold Douglas and Leslie Gray, joined the firm - only for Leslie to be killed in a motorbike accident in 1914. Douglas served in the First World War, with distinction, before setting up a factory in Portarlington, Ireland with the Russell family and overseeing further expansion in Cambridge. He sadly died prematurely in 1937.
His wife, Alison (Bobby) took over and proceeded to steer the firm through the difficult war years by securing contracts for war work; merging with a number of other brands and securing the services of many of the leading players of the day, thus establishing firm foundations for the future. The cricket side of the business merged with L. J. Nicolls in the 1940s to form Gray-Nicolls, which continues to be one of the most prominent brands in world cricket.
She also died prematurely in 1950 and was succeeded by her children William, John and Valerie. Under their leadership, Grays acquired a variety of companies including Wisden (famous for the Cricketers Almanack), Sams Snooker, Edwards Fishing tackle, Viscourt Bamdinton, Dukes, British Cricket Balls and a chain of 13 sports shops. Grays also set up factories in Pakistan (hockey) and Australia (cricket).
More recently, Grays became primarily associated with (field) hockey, having also acquired the then leading hockey brand Hazells in 1941. Grays later established its own factory in Sialkot, Pakistan in 1964 to supply the new mulberry-headed sticks, that had become popular at the time. It was here that the famous Karachi King Stick was created, with its characteristic orange flash. The stick was used by the Pakistan Team at the inaugural Hockey World Cup in 1971. This design soon came to symbolise the Grays brand on hockey pitches around the world.
The 5th generation, Nick, Neil, Paul, Jason and Richard joined the business in the latter part of the 20th Century. Grays acquired the famous rugby and netball brand Gilbert in 2002. The Steeden rugby league brand had been acquired by Grays-Nicolls Sports, Australia some years before. The firm has now moved its Head Office to Gray-Nicolls site in Robertsbridge England.
Grays hockey equipment is used today by many of the world's international players such as: England's Ashley Jackson and Georgie Twigg, Australia's Mark Knowles and Anna Flanagan and Holland's Robbert van Der Horst and Roost Drost. Grays is also the official supplier of the FIH