Andrew Fraser (1917-2007) was former librarian of Midlothian County and a remarkable scholar and collector. A native of Bonnyrigg, he amassed a huge amount of material on the Midlothian area, including books, photographs, postcards and ephemera. It was typical of Andrew’s thoughtfulness and generosity that shortly before his death his entire collection was gifted to Midlothian Council Local Studies and Archives.
We are currently creating a full catalogue of the Andrew Fraser Collection and are constantly amazed at Andrew’s level of dedication and commitment. For example, amongst the collection is an unpublished 20 volume history of Cockpen Parish compiled by Andrew Fraser during his lifetime. This includes transcripts of writs, charters and other documents as well as maps, photographs and drawings, truly a labour of love.
During the Second World War, Andrew Fraser served as a Lance Corporal with the King’s Own Scottish Borderers and for five years he was a prisoner of war in Germany. The collection includes three small diaries and also some photographs that he kept during his time as a POW.
The collection also includes a fascinating series of scrapbooks and files of newspaper cuttings. These were collected by Andrew Fraser from the 1930s to the late 1950s. They are a wonderful record of everyday events in Midlothian. It must have taken Andrew Fraser an extraordinary amount of time and dedication to compile them.
The earliest scrapbook covers the period from August 1938 to January 1940. The cuttings are beautifully presented and the book is fully indexed. There are many stories of interest, including local weddings and Gala days, the death of the earl of Rosslyn, evacuation and preparation for air raids.
One of the most interesting entries is a series of newspaper photographs about experimental oil wells at D’Arcy farm, near Dalkeith. An American oil company had sunk several exploratory wells in the area and used explosives in an attempt to increase the flow of oil. The experiment was later abandoned, but perhaps it may be repeated in the future.
We hope to complete a full catalogue of the Andrew Fraser collection this year (2013) and look forward to discovering more of it treasures soon.