Glasgow University business archive: the story of House of Fraser

It may currently be difficult times for House of Fraser, but it wasn’t always the case.

In 1959, when its academics noticed the closing down of shipbuilders and other firms, Glasgow University set up a national archive of Scottish business. In 1979, the history of one of Britain's leading department stores, House of Fraser, was added.

The archive is an extensive resource, and worthwhile if you’re looking to find out more about the history of British design, fashion, tastes, lifestyles, consumerism and consumption from the early nineteenth to the end of the twentieth century.

House of Fraser was founded as a small drapery shop in Glasgow in 1849 by Hugh Fraser and James Arthur, before expanding and opening branches internationally. The wholesale business became separated from the retail side and was named Arthur & Co.

In 1865, Fraser and Arthur dissolved the partnership (Gazette issue 7595), and Fraser assumed control of the retail business, while Arthur took control of the wholesale business. From 1865, Fraser managed the store in partnership with Alexander McLaren, and the business was renamed Fraser & McLaren.

Hugh Fraser died in February 1873 (Gazette issue 8347) and under the terms of his will, his five sons could buy a share in the business for £8,000 each. By 1891, the company was renamed Fraser and Sons.

By late 1941, Fraser, Sons & Co Ltd, drapers, of Glasgow, formed a new company as a vehicle for future acquisitions, House of Fraser Ltd, incorporated in December 1941.

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