William Mann

William Mann (1854 - 1904)

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wm1William Mann - Businessman, social reformer and philanthropist

William Mann was born in the parish of East Kilbride in 1853.  He was educated in both East Kilbride and Glasgow, eventually working his way up to Managing Partner in the ship-owning company of Messrs Bell Bros. & McLelland.

In 1892 he entered public life when he was returned for one of the divisions of Mearns in the County Council and became well known as a leader in county affairs. He was Vice Chairman of the District Committee of Upper Renfrewshire, Chairman of the Joint Committee on Darnley Hospital and a Justice of the Peace for the county. He was a strong supporter of the temperance movement and  as one of the founders of the Glasgow Citizens’ Vigilance Association, he supported the attempts of the authorities in trying to suppress drunkenness by favouring 10 o’clock closing and extending this practice from the country into large towns.
He was warm hearted and generous man, a social reformer and philanthropist.  He was a Liberal and founder of  the Glasgow and West of Scotland Liberal League. He was also the Honorary Secretary as well as president of the East Renfrewshire Liberal Association.
  
He was an active member of the United Free Church at Giffnock (Orchardhill)where he took a leading part in raising the funds to build the church and was the first captain of Eastwood Golf Club and of Pollok Golf Club.

William Mann built Whitecraigs house on the Ayr Road and although strictly not a “Mearns Man”, he took a keen interest in the welfare of the old village.

In the old village of Newton Mearns he purchased a public house in Main Street, which he then shut down in order to reduce the availability of alcohol. The villagers’ reaction to this is not recorded! Also in support of their well being William Mann initiated, planned and financed the improved water supply to Newton Mearns and was responsible for installing a drainage system in the village.

It was fitting therefore that his daughter Margaret gifted a public drinking fountain to be sited at Mearns Cross in his memory. Also in recognition of his contribution to the village, a street in the village is named William Mann Drive.

Tributes to William Mann at the dedication of the fountain in 1905 included these words:

“He was one of Glasgow’s best citizens’, and because of his ‘clean, upright, straightforward, true life … he was appreciated in the Mearns district as much as in Glasgow’.  Active in business but devoted much time to public affairs.  Did much for the good of the community”.    

“In the County Council of Renfrew he early took a leading place”.  Was astute and trusted.  Of the many schemes he was involved in ‘the one with which he was most identified in Mearns was the water supply.  It was not too much to say that it was Mr Mann’s scheme – initiated, planned, carried out, and financed by him.  He devoted to it his brain, his time, and his means, and he had the satisfaction of seeing it completed and in operation, and adequately meeting the wants of the village.’  

The fountain was originally sited “on the piece of ground at the junction of Kilmarnock and Newton Roads”. Although now dry, it stands today in front of the Mearns Shopping Centre.

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William Mann died on 29th May 1904 after taking ill in the church which he supported so well. He was 50 years old.


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