Giddings & Lewis-Fraser Ltd

Scope and Content

Company files 1959-1987; memoranda and articles of association and register of directors 1903-1961; minute and memoranda books 1905-1964; letter books 1880-1905 and 1905-1916; private ledgers 1878-1965; journals 1878-1968; papers relating to establishment and subsequent affairs of Douglas Fraser Trust 1863-1890; letters and paper relating to financial affairs, particularly payments to Catherine and Forbes Fraser 1872-1897; tenders and miscellaneous papers and correspondence 1857, 1874-1900; letters from Robert Fraser in South America 1889-1893; legal, financial and business papers and correspondence, 1857-1959; papers of Fabrica Argentina de Alpargatas S.A.I.C. 1950-1956; Photographs c.1920-1963.

Administrative / Biographical History

In 1832, Douglas Fraser of Arbroath established a business specialising in the manufacture of flax and canvas. By the 1870s steam was becoming the predominant means of propelling ships at sea and Douglas Fraser & Sons, as the firm was now known, found their business in serious decline and the rest of the century saw Douglas Fraser & Sons heavily in debt.In 1881 Norman Fraser designed and patented a braiding machine which proved to be an advance on what was currently available in the textile industry. The development of this machine led to greater concentration on machine manufacturing, a step which ultimately was to be the salvation of the company: an engineering works was established during the 1890s.

During the latter decades of the nineteenth century Douglas Fraser & Sons began business in Argentina, manufacturing jute-soled shoes called alpargatas or espadrilles. This part of the company's manufacturing interests soon became its most profitable and led to other factories being established in Uruguay and Brazil and Europe. Many of the parts for the machinery required were made and supplied by Frasers in Arbroath, where small-scale production of shoes was also undertaken. Over the first half of the twentieth century Douglas Fraser & Sons become major partners in a number of Indian enterprises, mainly concerned with processing jute.

For long a family-run business, Douglas Fraser & Sons was incorporated as a private company in 1905 and by the 1950s was almost exclusively an engineering firm. In 1959 Frasers was taken over by Giddings & Lewis, a machine tool company from Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, USA. The new company was named Giddings & Lewis-Fraser, with its head office at Wellgate Works, Arbroath. In 1968 Giddings & Lewis-Fraser became a public company, but reverted to being a private company in 1981. In 1982 a controlling share interest was bought by AMCA Netherland BV, which meant that the parent company of Giddings & Lewis-Fraser became AMCA Holdings (UK) Ltd, itself a subsidiary of AMCA International Ltd, incorporated in Canada.

Giddings & Lewis-Fraser maintain a major interest in Douglas Fraser (India) Ltd and Galfra-Habib Ltd of Pakistan, and as well as their continuing production of machine tools in Arbroath, are still involved in production of textiles at Friockheim.


Records are arranged chronologically within series.

Access Information

Open for consultation subject to preservation requirements. Access must also conform to the restrictions of the Data Protection Act and any other appropriate legislation.

Acquisition Information

The records deposited by Giddings & Lewis-Fraser Ltd, Arbroath


Fonds level description compiled by Sarah Chubb, Archives Hub Project Archivist, October 2001.

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Related Material

MS 43 Alexander Shanks & Sons Ltd