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No Mean City: 1914 to 1950s


Sir Daniel Macaulay Stevenson

By Irene Maver

Highland Light Infantry Sir Daniel Macaulay Stevenson (1851-1944) was a Liberal politician and philanthropist who served as Lord Provost between 1911 and 1914. Glasgow-born, his father was John Stevenson (1822-1913), an engineer, while his maternal grandfather was Daniel Macaulay, a pioneering trade unionist of the 1830s. Educated at the Glasgow Secular School, Stevenson commenced his working career aged sixteen serving an apprenticeship with a city ship-broking firm. In 1879 he set up his own successful coal-exporting business.

Anderston Library A radical Liberal, Stevenson's social conscience was given a practical outlet in Glasgow Corporation where he represented the Woodside ward from 1892. Concerned about the need to extend cultural access to Glaswegians, in 1898 he achieved the Sunday opening of museums and art galleries. The following year he introduced the city's free library service. A dedicated advocate of "municipal socialism", in 1900 he brought Glasgow's fledgling telephone service under civic ownership. Stevenson became Lord Provost at a time when the arms race between Britain and Germany was accelerating. As an internationalist, he attempted to maintain friendly relations between Glasgow and German cities, but this approach provoked criticism after the outbreak of war in August 1914.

Stevenson Building After the conflict Stevenson remained an influential figure in the Liberal Party, but he was no longer active in municipal politics. Instead he directed his energies towards promoting international understanding, especially through the vehicle of education. To this end he became a substantial financial benefactor to Glasgow University. In the early 1920s he endowed a lectureship in citizenship and chairs in Spanish and Italian. He funded overseas exchange scholarships. He also provided £60,000 to expand the University's Engineering Department. Passionate about music, he was instrumental in the creation of the Royal Scottish Academy of Music in 1929. Stevenson received a baronetcy in 1914 and was elected Chancellor of Glasgow University in 1934.

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