Municipal socialism

Municipal socialism can be understood to mean the spending of local authority money in order to benefit the public as a whole.

Public works schemes to improve living conditions and public health had been established in the late 19th century, often set up and run by Liberals. These small, local schemes raised the possibility of similar schemes being a success on a national level.


Following the cholera epidemics of 1842 and 1853, those responsible for running the city and shaping it’s future accepted the link doctors had highlighted between dirt and disease.

There were a number of influencing figures dubbed “Glasgow’s City Fathers."

Flour merchant John Ure was behind the driving force to regulate sanitary conditions and eradicate the city’s filthy environment.

Lord Provost John Blackie was largely responsible for the 1866 City Improvement Act. It introduced the scheme to bring a clean water supply into the city with the opening of the Loch Katrine project. Gas and electricity systems followed.

City Fathers under the management of James Dalrymple, provided public transport including a tramway network.

Wholesale grocer Samuel Chisholm and coal exporter Daniel M. Stevenson, worked towards providing housing provision for the poor.


Under Joseph Chamberlain (Mayor from 1873 to 1875) provision was made for gas and water supplies controlled by the government. They also cleared slums and introduced a city park system.