From the Book of Eminent Burgesses of Dundee 1513 to 1885.

Hugh Ballingall, Provost - 4th November 1870



HUGH BALLINGALL, Provost of Dundee, was born in the city of Perth, on 26th May, 1840, and came to Dundee at a very early age. He was educated at the High School, and entered into business as a brewer in the Pleasance Brewery Company, of which PROVOST WILLIAM LINDSAY had at one time been the principal partner, but which was afterwards conducted under the firm of BALLINGALL & SON. He became a Councillor at the date of his admission as Burgess (4th November, 1870), and has served in the Council continuously during the intervening seventeen years. In 1872 the Finance of the Water Commission was placed in his charge, and he continued to act as Convener of the Finance Committee till 1884. Whilst in this position it became necessary to provide funds for the very extensive works constructed for the purpose of bringing the water supply from Lintrathen, and for the streets and the improvements of the burgh carried out under the Improvement (1870) Act; and it was at his suggestion that loans were taken in small sums, thus enabling the working classes to obtain such a rate of interest for their savings as had formerly been reserved for capitalists.

This scheme was eminently successful, and funds of large amount were forthcoming without necessitating the borrowing of money at an increased rate. This method has since been adopted by the other local Public Boards, as well as by other burghs, with most beneficial results. Mr BALLINGALL was a Harbour Trustee from 1874 to 1878, and the practical knowledge which he thus obtained of the internal affairs of the Harbour Board enabled him to assist in bringing about the amicable termination of a protracted dispute betwixt the Police Commissioners and the Harbour Trustees, which had lasted over twenty years. From 1879 till 1883 Mr BALLINGALL was Treasurer of the Burgh, and managed the finances with conspicuous success. He was elected to the Provostship in 1884, and his term of office expires in November, 1887. During these three years several important events have occurred, in which he has taken part. The Endowed Schools Commissioners have examined into the Educational Bequests in the burgh, and as one of the Governors of the Morgan Hospital for years, and as Chairman of the Board, PROVOST BALLINGALL has seen that proposal put in form, whereby that institution will be popularized, and its usefulness much increased by the providing of secondary education.

The necessity for providing adequate defences for the Tay had been often pointed out to the Government, and as often postponed; but under his Provostship, and by his persistent efforts at the Admiralty, a system of submarine defences has been introduced which will secure the estuary from invasion. As the Jubilee of HER MAJESTY QUEEN VICTORIA'S Accession occurred in the last year of his office, it was his privilege to arrange for the due celebration of that event in the burgh, and also to initiate the movement for the erection of suitable memorials, which have taken the form of Victoria Art Galleries, and the proposed establishment of a School of Medicine. Through the exertions of the PROVOST and some of his friends, a contribution was sent to the funds of the Imperial Institute in London, without which Dundee would have been almost unrepresented in this national work; and he was present in his official capacity at the Thanksgiving Service in Westminster Abbey, on 22nd June, 1887.

At his suggestion, the representatives of several of the past Provosts of Dundee agreed with himself to provide stained glass windows for the Council Chamber, to be executed by E. BURNE JONES, A.R.A., and WILLIAM MORRIS, M.A., and similar windows are also to be provided for the Guild Hall. The subjects selected for this double series of windows have been chosen from characters connected with the history of Dundee. The preparation of this "Roll of Eminent Burgesses" was also undertaken at his suggestion, and has been carried out under his supervision and with his assistance. The latest work upon which he has been engaged is the extension of the Esplanade from Magdalene Green westward to Will's Braes, by reclaiming land from the river which, when completed, will provide a public park of about 150 acres; and the first section of this work is now to be undertaken.

The great scheme with which PROVOST BALLINGALL'S name will always be identified is that of the Lintrathen water supply. When the rapid increase of the population made it necessary to obtain a larger supply than that drawn from Monikie, the Loch of Lintrathen was unanimously selected as the source. Two methods of bringing the water to Dundee were proposed one taking a circuitous course and bringing several adjacent burghs into the area of supply, and the other following a more direct route from Lintrathen to Dundee. The latter method was advocated by PROVOST BALLINGALL, partly on the score of economy, but principally because it admitted of supplying the upper portions of the town by gravitation, and preserved Monikie as an independent supply. The direct route was ultimately adopted, and is now in operation; and an additional pipe from Lintrathen to Dundee is now being laid, so as to increase the supply still further.

PROVOST BALLINGALL is a Deputy Lieutenant and Justice of the Peace for Forfarshire, and has been on the Commission of Supply for the County since 1873. He was appointed to a similar position as Commissioner of Supply for Perthshire in 1878, as representing the Water Commissioners of Dundee. As one of the Northern Lights Commissioners, he was instrumental in procuring the placing of a lightship at the North Carr Rock, where many disastrous wrecks have occurred in former times.

In the course of the seventeen years that PROVOST BALLINGALL has been in the Town Council, many important changes have been made in the burgh. An adequate system of water supply has been introduced; many spacious streets have been carried through parts of the town formerly covered with dilapidated and overcrowded tenements; the Harbour has been extended; Public Baths have been erected, and extensive accommodation also provided for out door bathing; Public Markets and Slaughter houses have been built to replace the shambles of the olden time; and a network of Tramways now connects the various parts of the town. In all these improvements PROVOST BALLINGALL took an active share as member of the various Public Boards of Dundee.

During his time University College has been endowed, and a Medical School was projected as an addition to the other departments. The Albert Institute, containing Free Lending and Reference Libraries, had a large wing added to it, affording accommodation for a Museum and a Gallery for the permanent collection of works of art belonging to the burgh; and in the last year of his office he had the pleasure of seeing the heavy debt of £10,000, which hampered the operations of this useful institution, cleared off, as a Jubilee gift by a generous and cultured citizen. PROVOST BALLINGALL was also Chairman of the Committee charged with the task of completing the Albert Institute by adding a wing for the purposes of the annual Fine Art Exhibitions to be appropriately named the "Victoria Galleries" and the success of the scheme was largely due to his exertions.