Wray Optical Works Ltd. 1850 - 1971

Bromley, Greater London, England, United Kingdom

Wray Optical Works Ltd was established in 1850 by William Wray, a solicitor and amateur astronomer. He began making his own telescopes and the company became known for producing good quality astronomical refracting telescopes and lenses. At the beginning of the 20th century, the company was in decline but in 1908 merged with Aitcheson, a manufacturer of prism binoculars. This saw the company's name change from W. Wray to Wray Ltd, it was in 1950 that the name became Wray Optical Works Ltd. After this merger, the company started to produce binoculars as well as its other lenses.

During the First World War, Wray Ltd produced binoculars and photographic lenses for the Royal Flying Corps, and during the Second World War similarly produced prism binoculars and reflector gunsights for the Royal Air Force.

Following the Second World War, the company had to turn to the civilian market however, this meant having to produce cheaper options which many of the British optical companies struggled to do. In the 1960s, Japanese manufacturers took advantage of this by producing high quality consumer goods for low prices. This started a decline in the British companies. In 1968, the Rank Organisation created Rank Precision Instruments that saw the coming together of Taylor, Taylor & Hobson, Pullin & Aldis, and Hilger & Watts. It is assumed that it was around this time that Wray Optical Works Ltd was also taken over by the Rank Organisation. In June 1971, the Bromley-based Wray optical works was closed down with all operations moving to Kershaw's in Leeds.