In 1868 Archibald Fulton Craig started in business as a manufacturer of cropping machines at the Caledonia Engine Works, Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland. Two years later, in 1870, he was joined in the business by his uncle, James, and the company became known as A F Craig & Co . From then, until James retired in 1875 , they concentrated on improving the cropping machine. In 1880 , Archibald's brother, Robert F Craig, who was also an engineer, joined him as a partner and acted as works manager. During this partnership, which lasted until Robert's death in 1894 , the company prospered and expanded. Iron-founding and boiler making were added to the general engineering being carried out, but the most important product was the cropping machine which gained a prize at the Paris Exhibition in 1878. Agents were resident in France and Belgium and in 1885 a small shop manned by experienced engineers from the Caledonia Engine Works was set up in Armentieres, France. By 1900, the cropping machines were being used by textile firms in the United Kingdom, France and Belgium. Other textile machinery was being produced including thread-polishers; spool-making, bleaching and dyeing machines; and carpet looms.
The development of the shale oil trade in Scotland in the 1850s and 1860s opened up a new line of business for the firm which gained both experience and recognition for the erection of shale distillery and refining plant. Plants were erected in both France and Spain.
In 1894 , following Robert's death, the business was incorporated as a limited company as A F Craig & Co Ltd . Between 1899 and 1914 a policy of modernisation of plant and machinery was pursued with electric lighting being installed, electric motors added to cranes, hydraulic plant and new tools being purchased. The new plant allowed for the production of boilers, steam engines, cranes and hoists, condensers, hydro-extractors, filter presses, knitting machines, sugar mills and pumps.
In 1930 , the company amalgamated with H W Aitken & Co Ltd , sugar machinery manufacturers, Paisley, and then, in the 1950s , an association was formed with D Crabtree & Son Ltd (incorporated 1923), textile machinery manufacturers, Sheffield, England, which led to the creation of Craig-Crabtree (Contracts) Ltd in 1968 . In 1982 A F Craig & Co Ltd went into receivership, but part of the business was acquired by a management buy-out to trade as A F Craig (Ironfounders) Ltd. In 2002 the company no longer traded.
Source: Anthony Slaven & Sydney Checkland, vol. 1Dictionary of Scottish Business Biography 1860-1960(Aberdeen, 1986)