- Born 28 July 1819 at Linlithgow, Scotland.
- Married 30 December 1843 to Harriet Hall at St Mary the Virgin, Eccles.
- Died 24 September 1881 at Headingly Leeds
James Fraser was the eldest son of James Fraser (qv), architect and surveyor of Pendleton Manchester, and he was articled to the railway engineer G W Buck. In 1842 on completion of his pupillage he was appointed by Edward Woods to take charge, as resident engineer, of the construction of the Salford Junction Railway, the Act for which was obtained by the Liverpool and Manchester Railway Company, for the purpose of effecting a connection with the Leeds and Manchester Railway; and under his immediate direction all the designs for the viaducts and bridges, including the cast-iron arched bridge over the River Irwell, were prepared. By implication this included the cast iron arched bridge over Great Ducie Street at the western end of Victoria Station, (since erroneously attributed to Robert Stephenson). This section of line opened in May 1844.
In 1846 James Fraser left Manchester for Yorkshire, having been appointed resident engineer under Mr. (later Sir John) Hawkshaw C.E., the engineer-in-chief, on the West Riding Junction and the Huddersfield and Sheffield Railways. In 1851-2 Mr. Fraser, still under Mr. Hawkshaw, (who about this time moved from Yorkshire to London), became resident engineer to the Leeds, Bradford, and Halifax Junction Railway, opened August 1854; and, on the establishment of an independent company for the construction of a line from Leeds to Wakefield, opened 1857 he was again appointed resident engineer, and these lines, together with the Gildersome and Ardsley branches, were completed by him under John Hawkshaw.
When these local lines became part of the Great Northern Railway Fraser was appointed district engineer and during the next twenty-five years he was actively engaged in practice on his own account, as a civil engineer in Leeds. He successfully carried out various works, some of which were of considerable magnitude; such as the construction of numerous extensions for the lines built under Hawkshaw and new lines in Yorkshire including the Ossett, Batley, Adwalton, and Gildersome branch lines; the joint West Riding and Grimsby Railways (from Wakefield to Barnby Don and Doncaster); the joint railway to Methley; the joint Halifax and Ovenden Junction Railway; the branch to the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway at Bradford; the Bradford Eccleshill and Idle, and the Idle and Shipley Railways; the Ossett and Dewsbury, the Batley and Dewsbury, and the Leeds Castleford and Pontefract Junction Railways; the Bradford & Thornton Railway; and the southern section from Thornton to Halifax of the Halifax Thornton & Keighley Railway. He also completed several railways in Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire; such as the line from Newark to Melton and Tilton, about 40 miles in length, and a further section of about 11 miles from Tilton to Leicester, which was nearing completion at the time of his death. The heavy works on the northern section from Thornton to Keighley of the Halifax Thornton and Keighley Railway were commenced and partly carried out by him and were completed by his son following his death.
John Fraser died suddenly on 24 September 1881 at his residence, Grove House, Headingley, Leeds.
1866 18 York Place, Leeds
1880 13 Park Square Leeds
1881 Grove House Headingly Leeds
Obituary Building News 30 September 1881 p445
Obituary ICE Minutes of the Proceedings, Volume 70, January 1882 pp 417 419
Obituary The Engineer 30 September 1881 page 247]
Obituary Institution of Mechanical Engineers, January 1882 page 6-7