Gray Thomas, nestling in the shadows of the Castle, has been an integral part of the town of Caernarfon since 1924.
Hugh and Annie Gray-Thomas opened their shop at 9 and 10 Castle Ditch in 1924, making and selling furniture and the family later purchased number 11 Castle Ditch enabling Annie’s cousin William Griffiths to move his picture framing business from 4 Bridge Street.
Hugh’s interest in painting and music led to the introduction of sheet music, gramophones and records (78’s in those days!). 9 and 10 Castle Ditch became a music shop and 11 Castle Ditch sold artists’ materials, postcards, greeting cards and pottery as well as picture frames.
Hugh died in 1932, aged 35, leaving Annie to carry on the business and raise three children – Eric, John, and Wyn. She worked hard to keep the shop going, and raise her children through what must have been very difficult times for a young widow.
Eric joined his Uncle in the picture framing business, eventually taking over on Uncle William’s death in 1963 while John and Wyn joined their mother in the music business. Souvenirs, books and crafts were added to the stock in the art shop which was enlarged in the 1960’s with the purchase of a yard at the back of the shop. Additional premises purchased in Palace Street led to the opening in 1968 of an art gallery, Oriel Arfon, highlighting the work of local artists. The music shop became an important part of the town’s social history selling LP’s and singles, musical instruments and record players and with the introduction of booths and headphones to listen to the latest releases in both Welsh and English.
Both businesses thrived next door to each other and the wives and children of the three brothers helped the shops to develop. John and his family moved to Conwy and set up in business in Llandudno, and Wyn retired early, to enjoy family life and follow Caernarfon Town FC!
Annie Gray-Thomas enjoyed travelling after retiring, and died in 1990, aged 93.
The shops became one in the 1990’s, with the focus on Welsh gifts and crafts and the addition of quality jewellery, china and glassware, clothing and accessories as well as the Gallery.
February 28th 2014 marked an exciting development in the shop’s history, with the opening of our new Coffee Shop and Tea Room, which has already been very well received by our regular customers and visitors alike.
As we celebrate the shop’s 9th decade as a family business we would like to assure our customers of our continuing commitment to offering the best in service and products and thank everyone who has been part of our history for their support.
The Gray-Thomas family