Collection MS 89 - James F Low & Co Ltd

Identity area

Reference code

MS 89


James F Low & Co Ltd


  • 1850-1984 (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

5 linear metres

Context area

Name of creator

Biographical history

James F Low & Co Ltd was set up around the beginning of the nineteenth century by James Low and Robert Fairweather at Monifieth, then 'a primitive village of turf huts'. The firm, which produced the first locally made carding machine for flax tow in 1815, grew as machine spinning spread throughout Tayside. On the death of William Low in 1840, James Kennedy managed the works until James Fairweather Low (1825-1901) assumed control in 1849. Under James F Low, who was later assisted by his brother Samuel Miller Low (1835-1921), the firm continued to expand. By the 1880s there were 300 workers employed at the Monifieth Foundry, producing a range of machines for the processing and spinning of jute, flax, hemp and other similar fibres, not only for local textile spinning concerns but for customers throughout the world. James F Low's son William took over in 1892 and in 1902 the firm was incorporated as a limited company under his chairmanship. In 1924, the Low family sold their interest to John Shaw & Sons (Wolverhampton) Ltd, manufacturers and merchants. By the early 1930s the company was in serious financial trouble and in 1933 was taken over by a Dundee syndicate headed by Joseph Johnstone Barrie of Charles Barrie & Sons, shipowners and insurance brokers. The company's fortunes were restored during the Second World War when the foundry was almost completely turned over to the production of bombs, machine tools and aircraft components. In 1948, McLeod & Co Ltd of Calcutta, whose interests included jute mills, tea estates, engineering and light railways, acquired the company. Actual ownership was subsequently vested in James F Low & Co (India) Ltd, established as a limited company in 1949. One consequence of the change of ownership was the manufacture of Low's machinery by the Britannia Engineering Co Ltd, of Calcutta. From about 1955 Low & Co (India) Ltd, were faced with contracting markets for their textile machinery and consequently diversified into sub-contract work and the manufacture of a range of building equipment, including cement mixers, dumpers, fork-lift trucks, concrete pumps and vibrating pokers. This latter development led to the establishment of Rob Roy (Contractors Plant) Ltd, (c.1959) and Angus Concrete Pumping Services Ltd (formerly Angus Winding Ltd) and in 1966 Low & Co, acquired The Silent Ballcock Co Ltd, which had been incorporated in 1957. The name of The Silent Ballcock Co Ltd was changed to James F Low (Engineers) Ltd, in whom all the fixed assets of James F Low & Co Ltd, including Monifieth Foundry, were vested. James F Low & Co Ltd, thus became merely a holding company with three wholly owned subsidiaries. Control remained with James F Low & Co (India) Ltd, although between 1970 and 1973 a large stake was acquired by Mona Agency, Isle of Man, later transferred to Westdean Ltd, Jersey. In 1984 the Clydesdale Bank called in the receiver and James F Low (Engineers) Ltd, ceased trading. James F Low & Co Ltd, and its subsidiary, Rob Roy (Contractors Plant) were unaffected by the order.

Archival history


Content and structure area

Scope and content

Minutes 1902 1970; shareholding records 1902 1971; ledgers 1902 1971; purchase books 1918 1940; machinery records and order books 1850 1947; patents book 1924 1960; machinery specification books 1858 1976; bills of material 1946 1955; machinery instructions 1946 1959; inventories; photographs 1928 c.1950; plans and drawings 1857 1968. Also includes company files and other records of subsidiary company James F Low (Engineers) Ltd, manufacturers of contractors' small plant 1902 1984.


Not expected

System of arrangement

Records are arranged chronologically within series.

Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access

Open for consultation subject to preservation requirements. Access must also conform to the restrictions of the Data Protection Act (2018), General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR, 2018) and any other relevant legislation or restrictions. Clinical information is closed for 100 years.

Conditions governing reproduction

Reproduction is available subject to preservation requirements. Charges may be made for this service, and copyright and other restrictions may apply; please check with the Duty Archivist.

Language of material

Script of material

Language and script notes

Physical characteristics and technical requirements

The records are on paper and microfiche, and include photographs and outsize plans.

Finding aids

Descriptive list. Subject source lists and databases are also available.

Allied materials area

Existence and location of originals

Existence and location of copies

The James F Low (Engineers) Ltd company files are available on microfiche from Companies Registration Office, Edinburgh.

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Related descriptions

Notes area

Alternative identifier(s)

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Subject access points

Place access points

Name access points

Genre access points

Description control area

Description identifier

MS 89

Rules and/or conventions used

Description compiled in line with the following standards: International Council on Archives, ISAD(G) General International Standard Archival Description; International Council on Archives, ISAAR(CPF): International Standard Archival Authority Record for Corporate Bodies, Persons, and Families; National Council on Archives, Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997



Dates of creation revision deletion


  • English



Accession area

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