Since October is family history month, we decided it was time to share the story of the man behind the spectacles case that inspired his grandson Mark to create the Ayres& Co glasses case, which proudly bears his name.
Ernest Ayres was born in Manchester in 1889. At the outbreak of the First World War, aged 25, he joined the 11th Battalion of the Manchester Regiment. He fought in the Battle of Thiepval Ridge, and although the battle resulted in a British victory, there is estimated to have been 12,500 casualties.
Either during this Battle or soon after, Ernest was wounded by an artillery shell explosion and as a result, was invalided out of the war. The exploding shell caused damage to his eyesight which may have been why he needed to wear his spectacles.
Ernest was awarded the Pip, Squeak and Wilfred medals for his part in the war effort and helping secure a British victory. Along with these, a favourite passed down was his Manchester Regiment Cap Badge, of which Ernest Ayres wore with pride. These badges have remained within the Ayres family ever since.
In 1930, Ernest, his pregnant wife Lily and their 5 children moved into a ‘Home for Heroes’ in Manchester where he lived until his passing in 1962.
Ernest Ayres’ grandson, Mark, grew up in the same home as he did but years apart; they never had the chance to meet. The house was decorated head to toe with pictures of the Ayres family, and of artefacts from their lifetimes. Mark was fascinated by all the stories he was told, both good and bad, of the proud military history of his family.
Among the various artefacts that were passed down through his family were Ernest’s spectacles case. The case came into the possession of Mark, who discovered that the case had been able to keep his grandfather’s glasses intact after all this time. Thus sparking the idea behind the Ayres & Co. brand.
To learn more about the inspiration behind the Ayres & Co glasses case take a look at our blog An iconic aeroplane, a WWI veteran and a pair of specs -The story of Ayres& Co