The Manager of the City Improvement Department was born in 1853 on the south-side of Glasgow, and completed his education in Glasgow High School in John Street. After a time as articled apprentice in the conveyancing office of the late Mr. John Maxton he was forced by ill health to give up sedentary work. He accordingly entered the joiner's workshop in connection with his father's business as a builder, and occasionally helped with the factor work of his father's properties. On his father's retirement about 1877 Mr. Menzies with two partners took over the joiner business, but the first contracts undertaken resulted in a loss, and the failure of the City of Glasgow Bank just then stopped the building trade. He therefore withdrew from the firm, sailed for New Zealand in 1879, and there for a year wrought at his trade and revelled in the climate and country. Certain changes in his family, however, brought him home, and when he went abroad again it was to the United States. Three weeks in New York convinced him that the life as a workman there was less desirable than that of the poorest settler in the southern colony, so he followed Horace Greeley's advice and went west, to Cleveland, Ohio. Within an hour of his arrival he found work there at the erection of a frame house, and he afterwards wrought on one of the W. J. Perkin's blocks on Superior Street. During the five months of the succeeding winter, when trade was shut down in the northern states, he took the mathematical course at the National Normal University. Afterwards he found employment in a surveyor's office, and only left it for the higher wages to be earned at his trade. Next for four years he resided in Chicago, latterly acting as outside superintendent of the W. E. Frost Manufacturing Company, which ran a mill and contracted for the supply of internal wood furnishings on a large scale. The death of his father in 1887 recalled him to Glasgow to manage his estate. This work did not fully occupy his time, and five years later when Glasgow Corporation required a manager for its City Improvement Trust, he applied for the post. His life's experience had peculiarly qualified him for the duties, and he received the appointment.
    Since then Mr. Menzies' life has been identified with the improvement operations of the Corporation. Besides managing their estate, which has over 3,000 tenants and a rent roll of £58,000, he has the duty of advising the committee in the drafting of new plans, and reporting on the rental value of competitive designs for their reconstruction schemes, besides generally supervising the seven model lodging houses and the joiners' workshop belonging to the department. In this way for fifteen years he has played a most important part in the great undertaking which has swept away the slums and rookeries, hotbeds of filth and crime, from the city's heart, and substituted dwellings for the poorest of the population in which there is light and air and the possibility of a decent life.
    Mr. Menzies contributed an instructive article on "City Improvements and Housing in Glasgow" to the issue of Public Works for August, 1903. A further account of the work of his department was furnished by Sir Samuel Chisholm in his brochure on Municipal Enterprises, drawn up for the information of the British Association in its last visit to the city. When Mr. Menzies assumed office the City Improvement operation showed a deficiency on capital account of £155,800 and required a rate of one penny in the pound of the city's rental, but since 1896 no assessment for the purpose has been necessary, and there has been a gradually increasing surplus on the revenue, which in 1902 amounted to £7,000, while the deficiency on capital account has been more than wiped out.

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