5 JUNE 2013

20 NOVEMBER 2016


page 2



Henry Gay II and his brother George Edward set up Gay Brothers, an engineering firm, in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey, later East Molesey, Surrey, and then Hampton, Middx – it is unknown when the firm was founded – in the 1911 census, Henry was still living in Bath, Somerset, profession tool fitter, and George in Earlswood, Surrey, profession engineer’s toolmaker – family sources say that at one time they worked for the Gramophone Company (HMV), but that company’s HQ was in Hayes, Middx, so what the brothers did, and where they were, in the period 1911-1922 is unclear – the firm first appears in the phone book in 1922 – George was already living in Hanwell, Middx by 1913, and Henry by 1921, although probably earlier – the 2 brothers later settled in Ealing, Middx, next to Hanwell, which became their permanent home, and “seat” of the Gay family


http://edithsstreets.blogspot.it/2009/09/londonsurrey-border-east-moseleyhampton.html says:

A house was built on land belonging to the mill, fronting onto Creek Road [East Molesey, Surrey], named "Creek House". In 1914 the Zenith Motor Company [presumably hence the “Zenith Works, Creek Road” address in the 1937 phone book], who manufactured motor cycles in Weybridge, moved to the mill and remained until they were bankrupted in 1930. The mill was sold to C. Nielson and Son, as a factory for the production of sails and tents and the firm developed into what was at one time one of the largest tenting contractors in the country [and was still there in the 1950-60’s, the author lived not far away]. in 1938 a part of the mill premises were taken over by Messrs Gays (Hampton) Ltd., toolmakers and precision engineers. for the manufacture of parts for Bristol "Blenheim" bomber aircraft. The company was the first to manufacture bomb carriers for eight thousand pound "block busters".

http://www.moleseyhistory.co.uk/books/molesey/mill/ says:

Warwork Again

The run up to the Second World War created a crash rearmament programme, and in 1938 a part of the mill premises were taken over by Messrs Gays (Hampton) Ltd., toolmakers and precision engineers. Who employed about seventy people, mostly skilled hands, producing tools, jigs and fixtures for the manufacture of Bristol "Blenheim" bomber aircraft. During the war itself the personnel was increased and reached a maximum of two hundred. The company was the first to manufacture bomb carriers for eight thousand pound "block busters", when these massive engines of destruction were introduced by the R.A.F.

After the conclusion of the war the workforce was reduced to about sixty, and a few years later the company closed the works altogether and concentrated manufacture of all products at their Hampton factory (Information kindly supplied by Messrs. Gays (Hampton) Ltd.).


So it looks as though the move to East Molesey was made in the run up to the war

The author had always assumed, perhaps wrongly, that they sold the firm after the war, when they retired – they were born in 1882 and 1884 respectively, so would have reached 60 during the war - especially as they had no surviving sons to inherit the business - but a granddaughter of their elder sister, DH, says “I was told that they sold it [before WW2] as, being Christians, they had a conscience about manufacturing munitions for the war” so perhaps they sold it before the war - unfortunately, no one thought to ask George’s 4 daughters when they were alive

Online sources say “Gay's (Hampton) Limited, a private limited company incorporated on 2nd December 1940”, so perhaps this was when the new owners took over and changed the name - certainly the change of address and company name would point to a change in ownership in that period


Apart from one brief mention online of the firm working for the government during the war, the only available evidence is the phone books, see below:

1939 Oldfield Road, Hampton, Middx, plus the Creek Road, East Molesey, address, but without the Bridge Road, East Molesey, address

1943 now called Gay’s (Hampton) Ltd, still at Oldfield Road, also at Pembroke House, Broad Lane, Hampton, Middx, plus the Creek Road address

So it looks as though had definitely sold the firm by 1943, when its name had changed and the "Bros" disappeared - whether they'd already sold it by 1939, when the Oldfield Road address appeared, is not clear - the new owners might have been the ones who opened the works in Oldfield Road

There was another Gay Bros Ltd in Birmingham, Warks, dealing in sheet metal goods, but there is nothing to suggest there was any connection - the name is the same, the field they worked is related - but why would they have another firm in Birmingham?

On http://www.gracesguide.co.uk/Gay_Brothers, the 2 Kingston and Birmingham firms are linked, but whether the site’s owner has just linked 2 firms with the same name, or whether there was really a link, is not clear

It hasn’t been possible to get any photos of the various premises, even if they still exist - Union Street is right in the centre of Kingston and is full of trendy shops, so the premises must have been quite small – the East Molesey ones might have been a bit bigger, that’s possibly why they needed them – Oldfield Road must have been the first decent sized premises

A correspondent has kindly sent this: “I was searching for “Gay Bros (Hampton) Ltd”, looking to see if there were any references to it provided by Google and came upon your family tree site as one of only two. I don’t suppose it is of any interest to you but I worked there for a year as an apprentice Toolmaker in 1970-71. There were about 8 of us I think, in a dedicated, non-productive apprentice school led by an experienced foreman called ‘Snakey’ Chambers. Several of the apprentices came from a factory in Harrow, which I think was related in some way. Altogether I think there were about 200 toolmakers then at Gays, including a small high-precision toolmaking concern called Halliwell Gauges (they worked to millionths of an inch, not thousandths like the rest). Other sections  included Heat-treatment, Milling, Boring, Turning, Grinding, Welding, and Fitting. The factory was busy making guidance systems for Polaris submarines and can–testing machines as well as custom drilling machines and similar. They must have had a drawing office, but I didn’t get to see it.

I am still an Engineer, working now as a product Design Consultant in Hampshire, UK

The other reference to Gay Bros (Hampton) Ltd, said this.....

Reply by Bryan Alderson B.E.M. on March 15, 2012 at 12:57

As things are very quiet I will write a bit more about old Hampton. You will have to forgive me when I repeat myself, This is a problem with all old boys!!! The main entrance to the old Grammar School was on the Upper Sunbury Road. But we all used the Oldfield Road entrance. The school had an enormous field. At the bottom of the field opposite the factories were some underground air raid shelters. In the early part of the war, until we got our own 'Anderson' shelter, my mother, us kids and other Hampton folk would spend the nights in the factory shelters. This involved my mother carrying all our blankets to the shelter to enable us to get some sleep. I don't think there was any electric lighting. What I do remember, the toilet was a very large tin bucket at one end of the shelter and there was no sound proofing!!! We would go home for our breakfast, then it would be off to school. There were two factories at the west end of Oldfield Road, ie. Hall and Hall and Gay Brothers. Gay Brothers was an engineering factory. They had their wooden patterns in a very large shed in the school grounds. One night during the 'Blitz' Gerry dropped hundreds of incendiary bombs most of which landed in the school grounds. Gay's pattern shed was burnt to the ground. It was still smouldering when we went to school. The field was littered with dozens of intact incendiary bombs. The kids were pulling them out of the ground and taking them home. My elder brother (years later he became the Chief Inspector at the Police Traffic Garage in Station Road), managed to bring home two of the bombs, which stood on our Mantelpiece. It was OK they did not explode, otherwise I would not be writing this now. Towards the end of the War Gerry started sending over 'Flying Bombs' (Doodle Bugs) one landed in the reservoir opposite the school on the Upper Sunbury Road and blew all the windows out. We then had a very extended summer holiday. Thanks to Adolf Hitler I could never spell!!! I will tell you about the YWCA Club next time. Yours aye. Bryan”


“The Polaris Submarine items I remember seeing were 18” stainless steel cubes with internal dividers, welded from 3/4” plate then heat treated and then machined all over. They had removable covers on most or all faces. They contained bronze cylinders with precision pistons and neat piping. I think they worked as some kind of hydraulic servo system, amplifying or duplicating control commands. There were also some large cylindrical items machined from solid stainless round bar, which I suppose were possibly submarine periscope or torpedo parts. They also made what are called UNIT machines, which could be used in clusters on automatic production machining lines for things like milling, drilling and boring engine and gearbox casings. The Can Testing machines were of a ‘Ferris Wheel’ design about 3 metres in diameter, able to pick up unfilled cans from a line, apply perhaps proof test pressure and presumably hold it for the last 2/3rds of the orbit to monitor leakage, and eject duds. I think the wheels had about 80 stations and clamped the cans with rubber pads on swinging arms. The ring-valve was about 35cm in diameter, one half being hardened steel, the other bronze - I know that because I had to ‘lap’ of them - a very physically demanding and boring job. Frankly, knowing what I know now, I doubt they would have been reliable.

Gay Bros (as I understood) had a very good reputation for precision and ‘doing things properly’ and was considered an excellent start in engineering. The only other person I knew who worked there  maybe 10 years before was my brother-in-law, Philip Mulholland, a fine engineer with a manner of holding and working with hand tools that was dazzlingly dextrous and precise. Unfortunately he died last year so I cannot ask him”


“This is about transfer lines, like the ones for which Gay’s made unit type machines (aka Unit Machines)....” http://www.austinmemories.com/page165/page165.html


Gay Bros Ltd, Tool Makers, Engineers


Empire Works, Richmond Road, Kingston upon Thames, Surrey


variously at 8, 10 and 22 Union Street, Kingston upon Thames, Surrey


also at Zenith Works, Creek Road, East Molesey, Surrey (from 1938 referred to as Branch Factory)


also at 35 Bridge Road, East Molesey, Surrey


Oldfield Road, Hampton, Middx, plus Creek Road address, but without the Bridge Road address

1943 onwards

now called Gay’s (Hampton) Ltd, still at Oldfield Road, also at Pembroke House, Broad Lane, Hampton, Middx (possibly offices, the new owners’), plus the Creek Road address


still at Oldfield Road, plus the Creek Road branch


Gay Bros Ltd still in the Birmingham directory


Gays (Hampton) Ltd (now without an apostrophe, although modern online sites show it as both with and without an apostrophe), still at Oldfield Road


at 2a Winterstoke Road, London SE2


Empire Works, Richmond Road, Kingston upon Thames: see map below - still shown on  a post WW2 map, behind the Empire Theatre, the latter building being still there, whereas the Works would appear to be no longer there

Union Street, Kingston upon Thames: the east side, where nos. 8, 10 and 22 will have been, has been completely redeveloped in recent years, so it is not possible to even get an idea of what kind of building will have housed the firm – it was possibly a small old building, perhaps containing only offices

Zenith Works, Creek Road, East Molesey: see notes and photo below – there is housing on the site now

35 Bridge Road, East Molesey: see photo below – the building is still there - again, a small old building, perhaps containing only offices


● The company still exists, although inactive, and is a subsidiary of the The 600 Group PLC, Leeds, Yorks, a “diversified engineering group with a world class reputation in the manufacture and distribution of machine tools, precision engineered components and laser marking systems” www.600group.com

● One online “directory” states: Gay's (Hampton) Limited is an active private limited company incorporated on 2nd December 1940. Nature of business of Gay's (Hampton) Limited is "Manufacture of other general-purpose machinery n.e.c.". This company resides in Leeds, England. Country of origin is United Kingdom.

● Another online “directory” still shows:

Gays (Hampton) Ltd

122 Oldfield Rd



TW12 2AD

● One of George Edward Gay’s grandsons drove by the site some about the 1960-70’s and saw that the firm was still there - so sooner or later, someone will have to drive past again and see if it’s really still there!


Descrizione: Gay%20G145-Gay%20Bros%20(3)

Descrizione: Gay-G146-Gay%20Bros%20(1)

Descrizione: Gay-G147-Gay%20Bros%20(2)




late 1920’s/1930’s? the East Molesey factory was in the phone book from 1937 as Zenith Works, Creek Road, East Molesey, Surrey (from 1938 referred to as Branch Factory)

· photos supplied by a grandson of George Edward Gay

GAY BROS – management?

the 2 men sitting in the middle may be Henry and George Edward

main factory, Kingston upon Thames?

East Molesey factory




Empire Works, Richmond Road, Kingston upon Thames, Surrey

Zenith Works, Creek Road, East Molesey, Surrey

● the “Engineering Works” may be the factory

35 Bridge Road, East Molesey, Surrey

● Ordnance Survey maps, 1955

● Google 2016

Descrizione: AAA-GAY BROS The Oldfield Works, Hampton, 1932 redo

Descrizione: AAA-GAY%20BROS%20Birmingham

Descrizione: AAA-GAY BROS The Oldfield Works, Hampton, today




The Oldfield Works, Hampton, 1932 (not necessarily the Gay Bros works)

· from http://www.britainfromabove.org.uk/image/


an advertisement for the Birmingham firm, labelled 1945

(by this time the main firm was called Gay’s (Hampton) Ltd – the “Bros” had disappeared)

· from http://www.gracesguide.co.uk/Gay_Brothers

the works today

From our correspondent, who says:

“bearing in mind I was 17 and only there for a year 43 years ago”

A = Offices

B = Drawing office?

C = Grinding

D = Milling and Jig Boring

E = Apprentice School

      (all machines and

   benches, no class area)

F = Milling

G = Press Shop

J = Fitting

K = Toilets & Washroom

L = Stores

M = Welding

N = Fitting and Final


O = Fitting

P = Heat Treatment

Q = Toilets

R = Halliwell Gauges

S = Additional buildings?

     don’t remember clearly

T = Material Stores and

      Cutting section?


I hope this is of some interest and not too inaccurate!