Back to Top

Login

The Gilbert Story

Picture

Gilbert

William Gilbert (1799-1877) was the boot and shoe maker to Rugby School. He operated from a small shop in the town at 19, High Street which was later acquired by Grays as a sports shop. By 1823, Gilbert already supplying balls to Rugby School when William Webb Ellis first picked up and ran with the ball and the game of Rugby Football began. These early balls were larger and rounder than today's.~Gilbert's first Trademark

History

Charles Macintosh patents the waterproof material later used to make Mackintosh coats

1823
Picture

Gilbert

Gilbert moves to St. Matthews Street, Rugby.

History

Mines Act prohibits women and children under ten from working in mines.

1842
Picture

Gilbert

The fame and reputation of Gilbert balls grows - they won medals at the Great Exhibitions in London in 1851 and  1862. The official catalogue states "Footballs of leather dressed expressly for the purpose." By now, James Gilbert (1831-1906). The oval shape and size originated from the pig's bladder.

1851
Picture

Gilbert

Grays founded in Cambridge by racket champion, H J Gray.

History

The first pillar boxes are installed in London, at the suggestion of Rowland Hill.

1855
Picture

Gilbert

Prize Medal awarded at the London International Exhibition London to James Gilbert for Rugby School footballs and boots

Rugby

Blackheath formed. ‘The Club’, as it came to be known, had existed previously as the Old Blackheathen club, whose members had been scholars at Blackheath Proprietary School.

History

Charles Dodgson ('Lewis Carroll') tells the story that becomes Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.

1862
Picture

Gilbert

Death of 'Old Jim' Gilbert makes the boots and is famous for his footballs at Rugby School.

Rugby

‘Hacking’ controversy lead to withdrawal of Blackheath from an association of clubs formed in London to draw up a generally recognised code of football rules. From this may be dated the final split between the two codes of Football-Association and Rugby.

Richmond and Civil Service Clubs formed.

First match (on record) between Blackheath and Richmond.

History

The first section of the London Underground opens to the public .

1863
Picture

Gilbert

Joseph Gray was appointed as the first of 3 generations of Grays to act as rackets professionals at Rugby School.

History

Last public hanging in Britain.

1868
Picture

Gilbert

Gilbert Balls being exported to New Zealand.

Rugby

The Rugby Football Union formed in London on January 26th by the following 20 clubs: Blackheath, Richmond, Wellington College, Guy's Hospital, Harlequins, King's College, St. Paul's, Civil Service, Marlborough Nomads, Queen's House, West Kent, Wimbledon Hornets, Gipsies, Clapham Rovers, Flamingoes, Law, Lausanne, Addison, Mohicans, and Belsize Park.

First match between England and Scotland. Scotland won, in Edinburgh, by 1 goal, 1 try to 1 try (at this date only goals could decide a match. Tries did not count unless converted into a goal). Teams were 20-a-side-13 forwards, 3 half-backs, I three-quarter back, 3 full backs. F. Stokes (Blackheath) captained England and the Hon. F. J. Moncrieff (Edinburgh Academicals) Scotland.

First University Match. Oxford won, at Oxford, by 1 goal, 1 try to 0.

Streatham-Croydon, Neath RFC’s formed.

History

Welsh-born journalist Henry Morton Stanley locates missing Scottish explorer and missionary, Dr. David Livingstone in Ujiji, near Lake Tanganyika, and allegedly greets him saying "Dr. Livingstone, I presume?"

1871
Picture

Gilbert

Rubber bladders were invented by Richard Lindop in Rugby and the modern rugby ball shape evolved to improve handling and passing, following the abolition of the rule that a Goal had to be kicked to win a game.

Rugby

Newport, Twickenham and Weston-Super-Mare RFC's formed.

History

Captain Matthew Webb becomes the first person to swim the English Channel.

1875
Picture

Gilbert

When William Gilbert died in 1877, his nephew James succeeded him and Gilberts were stitching 2,800 balls a year. As the game grew in stature so did Gilberts business.  Gilbert started exporting balls to Australia and their export business grew rapidly.

Rugby

Rugby first established in France.

The number of players in Internationals was reduced from 20 to 15 a side.

Saracens RFC Formed.

History

All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club stages its first lawn tennis tournament at Wimbledon.

1877
Picture

Gilbert

In Cambridge, Grays also produced rugby balls - primarily for the university who had taken up the game in 1839 on Parkers Piece.

Rugby

International Board formed by four Home Unions (1) to ensure one code of laws for international matches, (2) to settle all disputes arising from such matches on a majority vote, and (3) to amend, alter, cancel any law in or add new laws to the international code by a majority of 3 to 1.

History

The longest bridge in Britain, the Forth Bridge (1,710 ft) in Scotland, is opened.

1890
Picture

Gilbert

Death of James Gilbert aged 75, his son, James John Gilbert, an enthusiastic rugby player takes over.

Rugby

First international rugby match. England defeats France 25-8.

First springboks tour to Britain and France

Modern system of points scoring established.

History

HMS Dreadnought is launched and sparks the naval race between Britain and Germany.

1906
Picture

Gilbert

Following the death of his father the last Gilbert to be involved in the company, James, returned from the war to run the firm. James Gilbert was meticulous in everything he did, checking and stamping every Gilbert match ball to maintain the companies reputation for excellence. He wrote countless letters to keep the Gilbert name at the forefront of the game at the highest level around the world. By now, each nation had its own preferences with Australia and New Zealand favouring the pointed (Torpedo) shape and South Africa the 8 panel which offered better grip. In Britain Ireland and France, most Balls were by now of 4 panel construction but 6 panels were still in use including in the England vs France game of 1922.  Player pressure resulted in the ball being  reduced by ½ inch by Gilbert which led to a change in the rules in 1932.

History

Germany announces its U-boats will resume unrestricted submarine warfare.

1917
Picture

Gilbert

The earliest Gilbert Catalogue on record celebrating 100 years for football.

Rugby

Centenary Match at Rugby School. England and Wales beat Scotland and Ireland, 2 goals, 2 dropped goals, 1 try (21 pts.) to 2 goals, 2 tries (16 pts.).

History

The BBC receives a licence to broadcast.

1923
Picture

Gilbert

These balls were signed by New Zealand teams of the day in 1920 and the All Black team in 1925 and were part of the extensive Gilbert ball collection.

Rugby

Murrayfield Stadium opened. Scotland beat England by 2 goals, 1 dropped goal to 1 goal, 1 penalty goal, 1 try.

1925
Picture

Gilbert

Gilbert catalogue states that "For many years Gilbert balls have been used in all the great international matches and testimonials from all over the world  have been received".  Gilbert balls being exported around the world including to Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Japan.~The Gilbert Match represented the ‘gold standard’ in Rugby for over 100 years.

Rugby

Scotland and Ireland, after first opposing it, agreed to general abolition of ‘loose head’ in scrummage. International Board previously had approved another addition to ‘Law 15, Scrummage’, which declared that the ball was not fairly in the scrummage until it had been put in straight, had touched the ground between the opposing players and had passed both feet of a player of each team.

New South Wales ‘Waratahs’ toured British Isles and France. Wales first beaten by France in Paris.

- First live sports broadcast on the BBC. The rugby union international England v Wales is commented on by Teddy Wakelam

History

At Pendine Sands, Sir Malcolm Campbell sets a new world land speed record covering the Flying Kilometre in a mean average of 174.883 mph (281.44 km/h) and the Flying Mile in 174.224 m.p.h. driving the Napier-Campbell Blue Bird, the last time this record will be attained on British soil.

Joe Davis wins the first World Snooker Championship final held in Birmingham,[3] an event he will continue to win each year until 1940.

1927
Picture

Gilbert

Gilbert catalogue features the history of the game and the part played by Gilbert.

Rugby

F. D. Prentice's Team in New Zealand and Australia.

History

The first British Empire Games are held in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.

Yorkshire-born Amy Johnson becomes the first woman to fly solo from England to Australia (11,000 miles to landing at Darwin).

1930
Picture

Gilbert

Gilbert formed a joint venture with the Glasgow based soccer ball brand Thomlinsons who were responsible for much of the distribution and marketing of the brand until the 1970s. The Gilbert Match remained the ball of choice.

1946
Picture

Gilbert

A History of the sport and the firm is published in 1955 by James Gilbert, Great Grandson of the founder.

Rugby

British Isles Team tour South Africa.

History

Stirling Moss becomes the first English winner of the British Grand Prix.

Cardiff becomes the official capital of Wales.

1955
Picture

Gilbert

Peter Jackson makes a run with the Gilbert MATCH ball used in the majority of international matches at the time.

1964
Picture

Gilbert

By 1970 balls were available in white as well as the traditional tan.

Rugby

Introduction of Mini Rugby for Children.

History

A Boeing 747 landed at Heathrow Airport, the first jumbo jet to land in Britain.

1970
Picture

Gilbert

One of many Gilbert Catalogues promoting the link with the Rugby School pitches where the sport was first played.

1970
Picture

Gilbert

With the advent of new materials and brands challenging Gilberts traditional leather business, the brand experienced difficult times and the Gilbert family decided to sell the business in 1978.  Grays registered an interest at the time but decided against the purchase.

1978
Picture

Gilbert

Ireland's Jon Robbie plays for the Lions with a Gilbert Match.

1980
Picture

Gilbert

During this time, the brand embraced and perfected the use of new synthetic technologies in its new Barbarian ball and expanded into wider areas of rugby equipment, footwear and clothing.

History

Peter Sutcliffe is charged with being the notorious mass murderer known as the "Yorkshire Ripper".

1981
Picture

Gilbert

The 1981 range features the new synthetic Barbarian ball alongside the traditional leather balls.

1981
Picture

Gilbert

Gilbert's first catalogue following the sale of the Company by the Gilbert family.

1981
Picture

Gilbert

During this time, the brand embraced and perfected the use of new synthetic technologies in its new Barbarian ball and expanded into wider areas of rugby equipment, footwear and clothing.

1985
Picture

Gilbert

Gilbert introduce coloured trims on rugby balls for the first time as a registered trademark.

1994
Picture

Gilbert

Joost Van Der Westhuizen - 1995 World Cup winner and one of South Africa's greatest ever players. Gilbert were first appointed as the official ball (The Barbarian)  to the Rugby World Cup - in South Africa.

Rugby

South Africa win the Rugby World Cup in their home country and receive the trophy from Nelson Mandela.

The Heineken Cup was formed in 1995 as a competition for 12 European clubs.

History

Barings Bank collapses.

1995
Picture

Gilbert

Gilbert Revolution the official ball at Rugby World Cup 1999.

Rugby

Australia win the Rugby World Cup for the second time.

History

The Millennium Stadium, is opened in Cardiff.

1999
Picture

Gilbert

Frankie Sheahan in action for Munster using Gilbert boots.

2000
Picture

Gilbert

Grays of Cambridge Int Ltd acquires the Gilbert brand which continued to lead the way in ball technology and design, and quality. ~The launch of the new Xact ball delivers the best ever performance from a rugby ball and was used successfully throughout the 2003 Rugby World Cup.

Rugby

The biggest lead in the history of the International Rugby Union was taken by Argentina over Paraguay. They won 152-0.

History

The Commonwealth Games are hosted by Manchester UK

2002
Picture

Gilbert

England's hero Johnny Wilkinson kicks the winning drop goal with the Gilbert Xact, the official ball at Rugby World Cup 2003

History

Supersonic aircraft Concorde makes its final commercial flights after 27 years.

2003
Picture

Gilbert

Gilbert Ambassador Simon Danieli is Scotland's leading try scorer of the 2003 Rugby World Cup

2003
Picture

Gilbert

Steve Thompson - 2003 World Cup winner, using Gilbert gloves and protective equipment.

2003
Picture

Gilbert

Lewis Moody - 2003 World Cup winner uses Gilbert shoulder pads.

2003
Picture

Gilbert

New Zealand switch to using the Gilbert ball.

History

Thousands of people are killed by a Tsunami in the Indian Ocean.

2004
Picture

Gilbert

The 2005 British and Irish Lions switch to the Gilbert ball.~Gilbert Ambassador Michael Owen Captains Wales to Grand Slam success.~A specific Sevens ball is introduced for the first time.

History

The Hunting Act, the ban on hunting with dogs in England and Wales, comes into force.

2005
Picture

Gilbert

Gilbert Synergie is the official Rugby World Cup  Ball.~The Wallabies select Gilbert balls as their official ball.

Rugby

South Africa win the Rugby World Cup in France.

History

The final edition of Grandstand, the flagship BBC sports programme, was aired after nearly 50 years on television screens.

2007
Picture

Gilbert

The 2009 Lions series in SA was played with a Gilbert Synergie Ball. Gilbert official supplier to 3 super Rugby teams in SA, Gilbert Ambassador  Rocky Elsom  named Man of the match in the Heineken Cup Final as Captain of Leinster.

History

Great Britain's Jenson Button wins the 2009 Formula One Drivers' Championship.

2009
Picture

Gilbert

Scotland's Dan Parks breaks kicking records galore in Gilbert boots. Gilbert appointed official teamwear supplier to Newport Gwent Dragons and to Oxford and Cambridge Universities. Gilbert ambassador Lewis Moody becomes England Captain.

History

A cloud of volcanic ash caused the closure of airspace over Europe.

2010
Picture

Gilbert

The Virtuo Ball chosen as the official ball for RWC 2011 in New Zealand. Gilbert ambassadors play prominent role - Berrick Barnes scores in the semi final and French captained by Thiery Dusautoir endorsing Gilbert heaguards also IRB player of the year.

History

An energy firm which had been test drilling for controversial "shale gas" in Lancashire said it had found vast gas resources underground.

2011
Picture

Gilbert

The Welsh Rugby Union appoints Gilbert as its official ball.

History

The 158th University Boat Race between Oxford and Cambridge is stopped mid-race due to a swimmer in the water.

2012
Picture

Gilbert

The 2013 Lions series matches in Australia were played with a Gilbert ball; the first to feature the colours of both teams.~RFU referees all wear Gilbert Branded kit. Gilbert are the official ball for the 7s Rugby World Cup.~Gilbert the official ball for the Sevens world cup is staged in Moscow.~Gilbert France is established from Grays head office.

History

The last living British person to be born in the 1800s, Grace Jones, dies at the age of 113.

2013
Picture

Gilbert

Gilbert appointed as the official ball for the 2015 Rugby World Cup in England - for the 6th consecutive tournament.

2015