Anyone visiting Newton Mearns will have noticed a water fountain standing at the Ayr Road entrance to The Avenue shopping centre. This was built as a memorial to William Mann (1853 – 1904) who once played a very active part in the local community.
Born in the parish of East Kilbride in 1853, Mr. William Mann was educated in both East Kilbride and Glasgow, eventually working his way up to Managing Partner in the ship owning company of Messr’s 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. So much so that in Mearns, he purchased a public house in Main Street, which he then shut down in order to reduce the availability of alcohol. One of the founders of the Glasgow Citizen’s 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.
In Eaglesham in 1902 he inaugurated the lighting scheme and supported the village’s proposals for a gravitational water supply and railway. He was notable for his contribution to the improvement of the drainage and water supply of Mearns and sat on the Mearns Water Committee in 1903. He was a staunch supporter of the Liberal cause and worked hard to secure a ‘Liberal’ willing to contest a seat in Parliament.
In memory of his life, and in particular his support of the drainage and water supply to the Mearns, a water fountain was erected in his memory, which after several moves, can be found today at the Ayr Road entrance to The Avenue Shopping Centre at Mearns.