Andrew Orr


The son of a wholesale stationer, Orr joined and extended the family business. In public life, he served on the Glasgow town council from 1842-1860 and was Lord Provost for three years from 1854. He was knighted in 1858.

From 1857 Orr was active in acquiring land for public parks in Glasgow, in particular Queen's Park, and sat on the committee which shaped the 1859 Glasgow Public Parks Act. He was also involved in the scheme to the supply Glasgow with water from Loch Katrine, the legislation being finalised in 1855, during his provostship.

From 1849-1871 he was chairman of the Glasgow and South-Western Railway Company. In 1859 he bought the estates of Harvieston and Castle Campbell in Clackmannanshire, later adding Aberdona and Sheardale. His later years were spent here, and he died at Bridge of Allan on 19 April 1872.

ANDREW ORR was born in Glasgow in 1801. His father, Francis Orr, was a wholesale stationer, and founder of the well-known firm of Francis Orr & Sons, Glasgow. After finishing his education at the University of his native city, Mr. Orr became connected with his father's business, which he largely extended. His devotion to the interests of his firm, however, did not prevent him from taking an active part in public business. After serving for some time as a member of the Parochial Board he, in November, 1842, entered the Town Council as one of the representatives of the Third Ward. On the termination of his three years of office Mr. Orr was re-elected in 1845, and again in 1848, in 1850, in 1853, and in 1857. In 1846 he was appointed a magistrate of the extended municipality; in 1848 he was elected First Bailie; and in November, 1854, he was elevated to the Lord-Provostship. His term of that office expired in 1857, when he was again returned to the Council. In 1858 he received the honour of knighthood. In 1860 he retired from the Council.

From the time when he entered the Council till he became Lord Provost, Mr. Orr acted as a member of the Clyde Trust, and during the three years of his Chief Magistracy he was ex officio its chairman. During that period the freedom of the city was conferred on two distinguished men, both connected with the West of Scotland, Sir Colin Campbell, afterwards Lord Clyde, and David Livingstone, the great missionary.

Throughout his connection with the Council Mr. Orr took an active part in the discharge of its varied and responsible duties. On entering it in 1842, he was appointed a member of the Finance and Property Committee of the Corporation, sub-convener of the Committee on Mills, Quarries, and Minerals, a member of the Committees on Churches and Law, and a member of a Committee appointed to consider the Glasgow City and Suburban Gas Bill, which received the sanction of Parliament in 1843. In the following year he was elected a member of the Committee for erecting a Court Hall and Justiciary Court Rooms in Glasgow, and also of the Committee on Markets, the Green, and Public Wells. In 1844 he acted as a member of the High School and Education Committee, the duties of which have since been transferred to the School Board. In 1845 he was appointed a Visitor of Prisons and a Court House Commissioner, and also a member of a Committee to negotiate with the Gas Companies for a transfer of their powers to the Corporation. In 1846 he was appointed a member of a Committee to practically establish slaughter houses for the city under the provisions of an Act obtained during the previous year. In 1853 he was appointed a member of the Committee on Water Supply, which was then exciting a great deal of attention. During his Lord-Provostship he was ex officio a member of all the committees of the Council. On his retirement from that office in 1857 he took an active part in the business of the Committee of Public Parks and Feuing, in the acquisition of the lands of Pathhead and Camphill, and in the formation of the Queen's Park; and in the following year he was a member of the Committee on Galleries of Art and Corporation Halls, through whose instrumentality the Glasgow Public Parks Act of 1859 was obtained.

Thus as a Councillor, as a Magistrate, and as Lord Provost, Mr. Orr rendered valuable service to the city. He warmly supported Lord Provost Stewart in his efforts to secure for Glasgow the benefits of the supply of water from Loch Katrine. From 1804 to 1852 various schemes to provide the city with an abundant and pure supply had been projected but had been abandoned. Among these were proposals to bring a supply from the North Calder, the Avon, the Earn, the Endrick, the Allender, Loch Lomond, and Loch Lubnaig.

Previous to 1804 the inhabitants of Glasgow had been supplied exclusively from wells. The inadequacy of this supply had induced the Town Council in 1799 to institute an inquiry as to how it could be remedied, and in the following year their engineer recommended a scheme for pumping water from the Clyde at five different points, but this proposal was not prosecuted. In 1806 the Glasgow Water Works Company was established, and two years later the Cranstonhill Water Company was formed. Both Companies were amalgamated in 1838. In 1846 the Gorbals Gravitation Company was formed for supplying the district of Gorbals and adjacent places with water.

So far back, however, as 1834 the Town Council had become impressed with the inexpediency of allowing the water supply of the city to remain in private hands, and in 1852 they adopted a scheme prepared by Mr. John Frederic Bateman, C.E., London, for procuring a supply from Loch Katrine. Mr. Bateman's scheme was actively supported by three Lord Provosts, viz. - Mr. Robert Stewart, Sir Andrew Orr, and Mr. Andrew Galbraith, and was finally completed in 1859. The requisite Act for taking over the undertakings of the two Companies was obtained, however, in 1855, during Mr. Orr's Lord-Provostship.

In 1849 Mr. Orr was elected a director of the Glasgow and South-Western Railway Company, of which in the same year he was appointed chairman. He held the chairmanship till February, 1871, when he retired from that office, and in recognition of the valuable services rendered to the Company he was presented by the shareholders with his portrait painted by Sir Francis Grant. He was entertained at this time also at a public banquet.

In 1859 he acquired the estates of Harvieston and Castle Campbell, to which he added Aberdona in 1860 and Sheardale in 1861. The latter portion of his life was spent on his estate, to the improvement of which he devoted much attention. But he never ceased to take a warm interest in all that concerned Glasgow. Sir Andrew died at Bridge of Allan on 19th April, 1872; he was predeceased by his wife and by his only child, who died in infancy.

Glasgow has in times past been singularly fortunate in having its municipal affairs attended to by leading citizens, men who having by energy, ability, and high character succeeded in achieving wealth and credit, felt themselves constrained to devote an important part of their time and energy to the service of the city. Sir Andrew Orr and the successive Lord Provosts under whom he served were men of this class, and their memory deserves and receives all honour. The extension of the city, and the larger powers which are being from time to time devolved on the Town Council, make it of the highest importance that civic affairs should be directed by men of proved business experience, of enlarged views, and of recognized social position. There never was a time when this was more necessary than the present, and if the duty which every good citizen owes to the community be not recognized by those who are most able to serve the city, the result can only be detrimental.

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