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Gray & Glass

March 19, 1886 – August 6, 1886

The reasons for S. Frank Glass’s move to Tilsonburg are not known, but his marriage to Josephine Dickens, daughter of Rev. Dickens of Tilsonburg, may have been a contributing factor.  He was open for business in “Gray & Betts Old Stand” by early July 1884 and throughout that month. In August, he placed an impressive advertisement in the Tilsonburg News informing the citizens of his new ownership.  He would operate the "Montreal Grocery House - Groceries, Crockery, &C. Teas A Specialty" on


Broadway (4 doors North of the Queen's Hotel). He ran the company until January of 1886 when a full page advertisement appeared in the paper for a "Grand Clearing Sale by Public Auction" of all his merchandise, as he was going out of business.  The auction and the ad ran daily until the announcement of his new partnership with Mr. Gray in the pottery works.

The spring and early summer of 1886 was something of a boom time for the Pottery Works.  Articles appeared in the paper in May, June, and July about the vast orders the pottery was receiving from the west. 

One article appearing on May 7 reported the following “The Tilsonburg Stone, Rockingham and Bristol Ware Works shipped a carload of their wares to Montreal and a carload to Kingston yesterday (Thursday).  Orders are crowding in so rapidly the proprietors Messrs. Gray & Glass, have been compelled to largely increase the force of workmen and to run day and night.  An order from Portage-la-Prarie, Manitoba, for 30,000 beer bottles now to hand, will tax their resources pretty well for a while.” 

All this activity resulted in the idea of expansion. In mid June of 1886, "The Tilsonburg Crockery Ware Manufacturing Company", as it was now called, applied to the Town of Tilsonburg for a $5,000 loan to aid in their planned expansion. Special ratepayers meetings were held, petitions signed and editorials written, all in favor of granting the bonus, but by a narrow margin the request was turned down. 

This was not well received by Gray & Glass and plans were put in motion to move the business to London.  However, before the business could be moved, the pottery works caught fire.  The August 6th edition of the Tilsonburg Observer reported the burning of the pottery works and brickyard on Wednesday morning with loses to Messrs' Gray & Glass valued at $8,000 and insurance covering $4,000. 

In the same edition was the announcement of the purchase of land in London for the London Crockery Manufacturing Company.  The article further states "The new company is composed of Sheriff Glass, C.S. Hyman, and other London capitalists, together with "Messrs Gray & Glass of Tilsonburg."

In mid August Gray & Glass moved to London and the burnt and crumbling pottery works was closed.  James Wooton, potter, moved to London with Gray & Glass, however his father Joseph would remain in the area trying his best to establish another pottery works until ill health forced his return to Trenton, New Jersey.  It was an idea that Joseph Wooton seemed reluctant to give up, as a letter written to the St. Thomas Times in March of 1888, states that he would gladly return if only he could find an investor willing to form a partnership.  Unfortunately, no investor could be found and pottery production, on a commercial scale, was never undertaken in Tillsonburg again.

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