THE EVOLUTION OF THE MUNICIPALITY OF GLASGOW.*
WITHIN the past quarter of a century much attention has been paid to the municipal progress of Glasgow, whose population has increased during the second half of the century by such leaps and bounds that its claim to be con- sidered the Second City, not, indeed, of the Empire, but certainly of the United Kingdom, has been placed beyond dispute. Visitors have been lavish in their praise of the energy with which the Corporation of the city—which, when it obtains its due in the shape of annexations, will house within its area almost a million persons—have grappled with the social and other problems which spring from ex- cessively rapid growth. Mr. Albert Shaw, an American journalist who made a tour of the great British cities some years ago, expressed the opinion that Glasgow was the most efficiently managed municipality in the world, Birmingham not excepted. Since Mr. Shaw expressed this opinion the population and the social and sanitary problems of Glasgow have had formidable additions made to them by the annexation of a considerable suburban area. A few weeks ago there took place what has been termed "a General Municipal Election;" in other words, all the old Councillors—and not as in ordinary municipal elections a third of them—retired, and a new Council was chosen to face, if not new difficulties, certainly old questions which have become infinitely more exigent than they were. The chief feature of the " General Municipal Election " was the success of the more ardent social and civic reformers known as " the Progressive party." It remains to be seen whether the new brooms will, through their Committees and " Trusts," do much in the way of sweeping clean, whether in the course of the next three years they will be able to remove the remain- • Glasgow, its 3funicipal Organisat;on and Administration. By Sir James Bell, Bart., Lord-Provost of Glasgow, 189295, 1895.96; and James Paton, F.L.S., President of the Mascaras Association of the United Kingdom, Glasgow ; James Maclehose and Sons.
ing blots upon the municipal escutcheon of their city, and especially the risks to health caused by a malodorous and pre- sumably insanitary river, and the danger to morality as well as health involved in the existence of two-roomed and three- roomed houses.
It is in accordance with the fitness of things that this almost unique municipality should at this stage—if not crisis—in its history have a quite unique volume devoted to the story of its evolution. Such a work we have in Glasgow : its Municipal Organisation and Administration, a large and handsome volume of over four hundred pages, which owes its origin to the late Lord Provost of the city, Sir James Bell, and which has been written by Mr. James Paton, Super- intendent of its Art Galleries,—in other words, custodian of its art treasures. Sir James Bell's idea is admirable in itself, and worthy of one of the most energetic of Glasgow's chief Magistrates. Mr. Paton writes from a full knowledge, lucidly, succinctly, and yet with that civic enthusiasm in the intensity of which Glasgow runs a neck-and-neck race with the energetic capital of the Midlands. We have termed the book a picture of the " evolution " of Glasgow ; the ordinary reader will feel in- clined to substitute " gigantic growth " for " evolution." It is hardly possible for one who is not familiar with the mushroom rise of the greater American cities to believe that within the lifetime of living men the population of Glasgow has increased tenfold, rising from eighty thousand to eight hundred thousand, while its area has risen from seventeen hundred and sixty-eight acres to over twelve thousand. Another extension, according to Sir James Bell and Mr. Paton, is " only a question of time," and when that is effected by the addition of the three police burghs of Govan, Partick, and Kinning Park to Glasgow, an addition of one hundred and twenty thousand will be made to this already great popu- lation. The contrast between the past and the present may be illustrated in another way which also exhibits in a striking fashion the efforts which have been made to grapple with the problems that have sprung from the very advance of civilisation :— "Our ancestors were without paved streets, drains, sewers, and sewage purification. Each man had to look after his own lighting, domestic and public, and cleansing, if any, was also the task of the individual. The water-supply came from public pumps and private wells, or from the yet limpid and healthful Molendinar, brought not in pipes but in buckets and stoups. Our modern city has its system of water and gas pipes, its overhead and under- ground wires for telegraphy, telephony, and electric lighting, it has its tramways, subways, and railways, its baths, wash-houses, and sanitary establishments, its museums and art galleries, its music, public parks, and botanic gardens, and further, a host of other adaptations of modern invention and development, all forming part of the municipal organisation and corporate struc- ture, which have no counterpart in the earlier city. And as the primitive city was simple in its organisation, so were the functions of its governing Council limited in amount, and of little complexity in detail. In these days the Councillor is much more the servant than the master of the people, and without any sense of communism ho is called on to discharge many duties, which the individual in days of yore performed for himself, or lived altogether without. The wonderful machine—the modern city—with its delicate adjustments and its innumerable hidden perils, has to be kept in smooth working order and in proper repair; the health, the cleanliness, the food, the recreation, the comfort, the very employment of the people, all have to be looked after ; new devices have to be tried ; new appliances have to be experimented with, and every tested improvement has to be adopted. The masters of the Ceuta are exigent; they demand in their service increasing labour, constant watchfulness, and un- tiring zeal ; and it is but fair to say that, from their unpaid servants, the Councillors, they get a marvellously large share of such self-sacrificing service."
The water-supply of Glasgow, derived from Loch Katrine, is as ample as—if not ampler than—that of any great city. Yet at one time water was obtained from wells, and there was one
well to three thousand persons !-
"We can call up in imagination the faithful Nelly of Captain Paton trudging to the West Port, stoup in hand, to bring one of the constituents of the famous bowl' brewed by Lockhart's hospitable old soldier. Suitability for punch-making appears, indeed, to have been the one fame-giving quality in Old Glasgow wells ; the reputation of the West Port well in this respect stood highest, and it was so greatly run on that hours had sometimes to be spent waiting till those first come were served. Next to the West Port in punch-making qualities came the Deanside well at the foot of Balmano Brae. Probably neither the West Port nor Deanside, however, equalled the famous spring in Lochaber, which the natives esteemed the best in all the Highlands : ' A watter that would stand two glass of whisky to one of watter.' "
The prosperity of Glasgow is due to the introduction of steam navigation and to the Firth of Clyde, one of the most magnificent estuaries for trading purposes in the world. Yet the difficulty of obtaining a harbour was enormous and for a time disheartening :—
" The mercantile spirit of Glasgow demanded outlet in some way, and in their difficulties the citizens in 1658 approached the Town of Dumbarton, seeking there a harbour. But the rulers of that then decaying and spiritless burgh declined to entertain the proposal on the ground that `the influx of mariners and others would raise the price of provisions.' Ten years later the citizens obtained from Charles II. a charter for the estab- lishment of a port and harbour on the south bank of the river, and under that provision Port Glasgow, which has long ceased to be the port of Glasgow, grew up. Port Glasgow was for the city a dismal failure. In the year 1692 a report on the finances, trade, and general condition of the city was prepared, in connection with a general inquisition into the condition of Royal Burghs ordered by the Convention of Burghs in the previous year. The
report on Glasgow is couched in the gloomiest possible terms According to it the annual value of the foreign trade of the city was not more than £205,000 Scots (.217,083 sterling). The shipping consisted of fifteen vessels of, in all, 1,182 tons burden Seven of these were in the harbour, and eight were for the present
abroad, ' uncertain of their home-coming because of the war.' It was quickly discovered that to become a trading city a port at Glasgow was a necessity ; and in 1688 the Town Council spent £1,666 (Scots money : that currency alone was recognised in Scotland before the Union) on the construction of a quay at the Broomielaw, after which the deepening of the river went on slowly but steadily. Even into the nineteenth century it was no uncommon experience for vessels of shallow draught to be stranded in mud banks, requiring both crew and passenger to get out and give the craft a shove off.
Not the least remarkable circumstance in the evolution of Glasgow—testifying to the large aims and many-sided energy of its citizens—is the enormous efforts that have been made to keep the social and moral advance of the citizens abreast of that material progress, of which they sometimes seem to be too proud. The higher intellectual interests of the West of Scotland are represented by one of the handsomest, best situated, and best equipped Universities in the Kingdom. Art flourishes, as is shown by the Continental reputation of a distinctively " Glasgow school" of artists, and by the erection now in progress of a great Art Gallery. Sanitation has become a craze on the banks of the Clyde. So has the municipalisation of industries affecting the whole community—as, indeed, is illustrated by the successful Corporation management of the city tramways. It is understood that the Improvements Trust—the body which represents the city in its war against the evils and horrors of the slums—will make even greater efforts in the next few years than it has done in the past. The titles of some of the chapters in this book—Public Charity, Educative Influences, Gas and Electricity, the Health Depart- ment, Sewers and Sewage, Streets and Bridges, Public Halls and Entertainments, Markets, Clyde Navigation, the Fire Brigade, the Corporation Resources—will help to show the kind of work that is done in, for, and by Glasgow. One aspect of the activity of the city is thus lucidly summed up :- " In the discharge of their duties to the citizens, the Magistrates and Council find it necessary to employ a body of officials and servants numbering upwards of ten thousand ; they administer a revenue which exceeds two million sterling yearly; they hold property worth more than ten millions, and they carry a burden of debt which amounts to the quite respectable total of more than eight millions. The income equals that of a modest kingdom ; it is applied to purposes much more directly bene- ficial to the people, and the servants of Glasgow Corporation certainly earn their pay in a manner far more directly useful than do the armed hosts of the nations."
During his Lord-Provostahip Sir James Bell paid special attention to the important—the all-important—question of the purification of the Clyde. Under his supervision most important experiments have been made in the way of sewage purification. These prove, he holds, that at a reasonable cost the Clyde and its tributaries can again be rendered tolerable, wholesome, and even sightly :- "It is quite obvious that the city has before it a serious and expensive task, but it is equally clear that its accomplishment is within view. But the cleansing of the Clyde basin does not end with the sewage of Glasgow. From Lanark downwards to the sea the valley is thickly populated, and an increasing flood of sewage, of inky coal-washings, and of manufacturing detritus will continue to be poured into the river and its tributaries. There cannot be a doubt that the several communities will be also called on to do what Glasgow is in the way of accomplishing, and within a reasonable time this foul blot on our civilisation will have been removed."
This excellent book, therefore, is valuable as a record of what has been, and still more because it gives an earnest of what
may and ought to be. It not only tells of civic achievements for which the Glasgow citizens of to-day have good reason to take credit to themselves and their fathers, but it tells of civic ideals the realisation of which will give their descendants good reason for being prouder still.