Gray, Dawes & Co. were shipping agents, insurance brokers and general merchants, founded in London in 1865 by Scottish entrepreneur Archibald Gray and his partner Edwin Sandys Dawes.
The company handled the passenger and cargo traffic of the British India Steam Navigation Co. in London. From 1873 the firm represented the British India Underwriters’ Association, which had been formed to insure British India Steam Navigation Co. vessels and those of the associated Netherlands Steam Navigation Co. Gray, Dawes & Co. acted as a confirming house for Smith, Mackenzie & Co. and Binny & Co., and purchased stores for them. During the 1920s the company also acted as buying and selling agent for the Mesopotamia Persia Corporation Ltd.
In 1927 Gray, Dawes & Co. became a travel agency when, in conjunction with Imperial Airways, it sold the first tickets on the commercial route from London to Cairo and Karachi.
In 1958 the company became a subsidiary of the Inchcape Group. The firm’s shipping business was lost and in 1967 the mercantile department was transferred to Inchcape Export Ltd.
A management buyout in 1988 transformed Gray Dawes into one of the UK’s leading independent corporate travel agencies.
Today Gray Dawes is owned by Inchcape Family Estates and is headquartered in Colchester, Essex.