LevelFonds
Ref NoBUFRA
TitleRecords of Fraser and Chalmers (incorporating GEC), Engineers - Erith
Date1890-1987
DescriptionThis collection covers the period 1890 to 1987. The majority of the business's administrative records such as Board Minute Book and Order books span the period 1890 to 1919. The collection includes catalogues and photographs illustrating the range of machinery manufactured by the company. References to company departments and names of staff can be found in telephone directories dating 1964 to 1987. Useful notes on the history and organisational structure of the company can be found in the file containing company notices ands press cuttings. Also contains a collection of Fraser and Chalmers in house magazine.
FormatManuscript
Extent3 Linear Metres
Access StatusOpen
AdminHistoryIn the late 1880s the gold and diamond mining regions of South Africa were being rapidly developed, with the aid of a great deal of machinery - hoists, pumps, ore crushers and winders etc, manufactured by Fraser and Chalmers American company based in Chicago. Fraser's company was 'taxed to the utmost' with so many orders that they decided to set up a factory in England and to this end promoted an English affiliate company with aid of The Exploration Company. In January 1890 Fraser's issued £525, 000 worth of equity and a further £250,000 worth in debentures to finance the new company. Amongst the first directors of the newly formed English Fraser's and Chalmers were leading financiers of the gold and diamond mining industries, including Julius Charles Wernher (Wernher, Beit and Co.), Edward Gerrard De Crano (The Exploration Company) and Robert English (De Beers Consolidated Mines Ltd.)

In 1901 Fraser & Chalmers (Chicago) merged with the American engineering firm E P Allis to form Allis Chalmers. Fraser and Chalmers, Erith terminated their financial interest in the American firm in February 1913. Fraser & Chalmers were purchased by GEC in 1918 and developed alongside their mining equipment business a major turbine manufacturing plant. In 1955 new heavy turbine production facilities were opened to produce turbines for the power generating industry.

In 1961 the Erith factory became a part of GEC Engineering Ltd. Which also included GEC's electro mechanical works at Witton, Birmingham. From the 1960s to the late 1980s GEC at Erith underwent a number of organisational restructuring exercises. In 1965 GEC's Mechanical Engineering factory at Erith included the following departments: General and Assistant Managers; Admiralty and Special Projects Division; General Engineering Division; Power Plant Division; Works Manufacturing; Buying Department; Inspection; Outside Erection, Metallurgical; Personnel; Accounts; Publicity and Computer unit. By 1968 the company employed around 2,300 employees at Erith.As a result of a merger of GEC with the English Electric Company in 1969 the firm became GEC- Elliot Mechanical Handling Ltd. Reflecting the downturn in business which can be dated from the 1960s, GEC sold off 25 acres from its 31 acre site to Centrovinical States who developed what was to become known as the Europa Trading Estate on land once occupied by various GEC workshops.

In 1976 the company changed its name again to GEC Mechanical Handling Ltd. After a severe drop in orders and profitability GEC announced the closure of their Erith factory in 1987, with the loss of around 300 jobs.
Persons
CodePersonNameDates
DS/UK/3Fraser and Chalmers Ltd.; 1890-1987; Engineering Company1890-1987
Places
CodeSet
NA5Fraser and Chalmers Factory/Fraser Road/Erith/London Borough of Bexley/Kent/England
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