Several honours were conferred upon Sir William Arrol during his lifetime and he officiated at many public events. What comes across very strongly in the speeches he delivered was the modesty of the man. He also took the opportunity to express his thoughts on labour politics at the time. He was very outspoken on the demands of the Trade Unions, for a shorter working week and salary increases. Being such a driven and hard working man himself he was not in favour of working less hours, believing this would lead to a lazy workforce. Also the effect of rising labour costs bringing about price increases for the consumer eg. coal miners, or making it economically non- viable for contractors to take on work as labour costs would be too high.
He was also concerned about the decline in men learning a trade and the effects that would have on the competitive advantage of industry in this country.
1889, 4 December – Freedom of the City of Dundee
1890, 26 February – Freedom of the Burgh of Ayr
1890, 4 March – Knighthood
1890, 10 April – Freedom and livery of The Workshipful Company of Blacksmiths of the City of London
1890 – Honorary degree of LLD (Doctor of Laws) from the University of Glasgow
1893, 21 August – Unveiling of the American Civil War Monument, Edinburgh