Laidlaw and Fairgrieve Ltd., Woollen Manufacturers, Galashiels

Scope and Content

Records of Directors 1887-1955; Internal Administration 19th century; Financial Records 1873-1966; Records of Production 1865-1966; Staff Records 1949; Property Records 1886-1950; Photographs 1928; Relations with External Bodies 1920-1949

Administrative / Biographical History

William Laidlaw originally learned weaving at J & W Cochrane in Galashiels and Thomas Fairgrieve was the manager of Ladhope Mill. In 1864 they began renting it, and in 1868 bought it from Mr Sanderson. William Laidlaw subsequently became the provost of Galashiels from 1873-75 and Deacon of the Galashiels Manufacturers Corporation from 1874-5 but died in 1880. Thomas Fairgrieve carried on the business and Laidlaw and Fairgrieve became well known for high quality woven woollen fabric especially Saxony cloth.

The company was at the forefront of technical developments. In 1881 they installed a 250 HP steam engine and in 1912 they were the first company in Galashiels in install a water turbine to allow electricity to be used to power the engines. In 1917 the Company bought out Brown Allen and Company, Selkirk which specialised in hosiery yarns and provided cashmere for Hawick firms. The company became incorporated in 1920 becoming Laidlaw and Farigrieve Ltd. The Galashiels mill was burnt down in 1928, but the new mill erected in 1930 was completely electric with air conditioning and 15 carding sets and new more powerful water turbines. After 1930 when the weaving industry was in a slump they became fully engaged in spinning cashmere, lambswool, camel hair and other machine knitting yarns.

In 1950 the firm became associated with Messrs William Baird and Company Ltd. of Glasgow who took a substantial block of shares. In 1961 the firm then became part of Messrs. Joseph Dawson (Holdings) Ltd, now Dawson International, and after Alex Fairgrieve retired in 1965 Alan Smith became chairman. A new dyehouse had been opened at Selkirk in 1962 and in 1964 a new factory was built in Dalkeith. This finally closed in the 1990s.


Chronologically in accordance with the classification scheme

Access Information

By appointment at the Scottish Borders Campus, Heriot-Watt University, Netherdale, Galashiels.

Acquisition Information

The collection was donated in 2000 as Accession 2000.6

Other Finding Aids

A printed list is available in the search room.

Archivist's Note

Description compiled by Helen Taylor, Archivist, Heriot-Watt University Archive, Records Management and Museum Service.

Conditions Governing Use

Photocopies and photographic copies can be supplied for educational use and private study purposes only, depending on the condition of the documents. Permission to publish material from the Archive must be sought in advance from the University Archivist. Responsibility for obtaining copyright clearance rests with the applicant.


Not expected

Location of Originals

The collection is original.


Galashiels: A Modern History. Galashiels History Committee and Ettrick and Lauderdale District Council. 1983