7 February 2013

John Bolding & Sons

Last week we were lucky enough to get some photos of Grays from above.  You can immediately appreciate the beauty of the Edwardian red brick building and how much it stands out from it's surroundings.  We thought we would share a little of this majestic building's history before it became Grays antique centre.

The building Grays currently occupies at 58 Davies Street (pictured above) was built for well known sanitary manufacturers John Bolding & Sons in 1889-91.  Boldings already had a number of premises in neighbouring streets, including South Molton Street and a workshop in Davies Mews. As the company expanded, they needed a building large enough to gather together all their activities in one place.  In 1880 they aquired the unusual triangular shaped plot with the intention to provide space for retail showrooms and a factory where parts and fittings could be manufactured. Plans were approved by the Duke of Westminster who thought that 'the elevation would be a great ornament to Davies Street'. Ref: www.british-history.ac.uk.

Perspective drawing published in 1890. Image source: British History Online.
Image source: Grace's Guide www.gracesguide.co.uk
Numbers 1-7 Davies Mews also have an interesting history.  This section of Davies Mews was originally stables with the oldest pub in Mayfair, The Running Horse, on the corner where Davies Mews joins Davies Street.  Architect Reginald Blomfield designed workshop premises with space for garages for John Bolding & Sons and furniture remover Henry Rosoman in 1889-91.  In 1932 Bolding took over Rosomon's section taking full control of the southern part of the building.
Grays Mews viewed from South Molton Lane.

In 1977 Bennie Gray took over both sections and renovated the interior to make Grays and Grays Mews, as we know it today.  In Davies Mews builders were faced with continuous damp and flooding to the lower ground floor level.  Surveyors found all this water was due to the subterranian river Tyburn, which flows from Hampstead (under Buckingham Palace) and down to the Thames.  The only way was to channel the water though the building, which you can still see running through the building today (image below)! 

The River Tyburn in Grays Mews, 1-7 Davies Mews

Find out more about the history of the local area at British History Online.

1 comment:

  1. I do not believe that the John Boldings factory was ever installed at Davies St where my father worked for many years. If was there it must have been for quite a short time. However it certainly existed in Brittania St,Kings Cross in 1958. This was where at the age of 16yrs I started my working life. Firstly in the warehouse and later the tool room. I had to enrol at Hackney Technical College and study production engineering. There was a large number of 'capstan lathes',operated mostly by women on piece work rates. It was they who machined the taps, valves and waste fitting etc for all the sanitary products. Upstairs was the 'polishing' shop where everything was prepared for the eletro- plating dept. The factory also produced/built large autoclaves for hospitals as well as mortuary tables. A lot of the machinery was old and belt driven from overhead shafts.


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