EX-BAILIE W. F. ANDERSON is descended of Lanarkshire stock
on the father's side, and Stirlingshire on the mother's. His father was a
Commissioner of the Burgh of Crosshill, and an elder with the Rev. Dr. Jeffrey
in Caledonia Road U.P. Church, and the Ex-Bailie is the eldest surviving son of
a family of eleven. He was born in York Street in 1855, and was educated at the
once-famous school, Anderson's Academy in Carlton Place, the personality of
whose headmaster he gratefully acknowledges as a lasting influence. For two
years and a half he was in the commercial office of David Geddes & Co., the head
of which firm he also looks back upon with lasting regard. Here his fellow-clerk
was the present minister of St John's Church, Dr. Carroll. After this experience
he went into his father's business in the hat trade, in which he is still
engaged, with his younger brother as partner.
In 1874, at the age of 18, Mr. Anderson became connected with Glasgow Foundry Boys' Society. Eight years later he became chairman of the Mathieson Street branch, and after holding the office for eight years, was asked to succeed Sir Samuel Chisholm us Chairman of the City Hall Foundry Boys' Society, the largest in Scotland. There, during the eight and a half years of his chairmanship the attendance increased from 500 to nearly 900 each Sunday.
In 1882 he joined the Glasgow South-Side Parliamentary Debating Society. At once, after his first speech, he was made a Cabinet Minister, and though he always declined the Premiership for business reasons, he acted for years as second in the Government. He was afterwards invited to lead the Liberal Party in the Glasgow Society in Bothwell Street, and did so for two seasons.
On account of his strong Temperance views he stood for the Town Council in 1892. The contest was the most exciting of the year, and he defeated his opponent, Bailie Bowman, by 800 votes. Since then he has sat continuously for the same ward, being unanimously returned in 1895, 1899, 1901, and 1904. In 1896, when there were five candidates for the three seats of the ward he polled the fourth largest vote in the city among the 120 candidates standing; and in 1907, when he fought Mr. Coutts, understood to be supported by Mr. Scott Gibson, he defeated him by 1400. He was elected River-Bailie in 1896, and Bailie in 1897 and 1900. He has been and is a member of all the important committees of the Council, and has been specially identified with the Health Committee, of which he was Chairman for four years.
He has specially interested himself in the questions of prevention of consumption and of infant mortality. He has attended all the International Conferences upon these subjects, and was the means of forming the National Association (or Preservation of Infant Life, of whose executive he is chairman. He was also the solitary representative for Scotland upon the International Association for this purpose and was one of the most active founders of Bellefield Consumption Sanatorium. As a Member of the Municipal Housing Commission he took a deep interest in the problem of the slum property in the city, and as Chairman of Glasgow Distress Committee in the anxious winter of 1908 he had to deal with the still more serious problems of unemployment. Among many other offices he is Chairman of Hutchesons' Trust, and, always prominent in Temperance work, he is a Director of the Scottish Permissive Bill Association, and was long Chairman of the Band of Hope. He has also taken an active interest in P.S.A. work.
Even his holidays have for many years been spent upon the city's work and interests, and the appreciation of the citizens in return was strikingly proved during his serious four months' illness in 1907, when the deepest public concern was shewn. His work in many spheres has been greatly helped by a valuable memory, and by singular aptitude for narration of anecdote and incident.
In politics he is an advanced Radical, but is an opponent of Socialism, and has been asked - even so lately as in 1906 - to stand for Parliament, but has hitherto refused. He has been three times married - first at the age of 25 to a daughter, who died within eight months, of the well-known architect, "Greek" Thomson; secondly to Margaret, daughter of the late T. C. Fleming of Messrs. Mann, Byars & Co.; and thirdly to Jane Duncan, youngest daughter of James D. Milne, of Macduff Meal Mills; and he has three surviving children.
Index of Glasgow Men (1909)