Lottery boost for Gemmell’s remarkable statues

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Eaglesham’s celebrated Gemmell Statues collection is to be given pride of place in its own local display space – thanks to a lottery windfall.

Until now the striking life-size 19th century statues have never enjoyed the high public profile many think they deserve.

But a Heritage Lottery Fund grand of £18,800 will pave the way for a brand new local heritage display in the village’s recently refurbished Carswell Centre.

The statues were carved by Eaglesham villager William Gemmell between 1840 and 1845, and depict local and national characters.

These include Robert Burns with Highland Mary (pictured) as well as a blind fiddler thought to be Alexander McDonald, a strong man who was well known in the village.

The project will include Eaglesham Primary School pupils’ artwork and stories based on the items.

Also on show in the new display space will be a hand-sewn quilt created by villagers in the ‘90’s. featuring 74 squares representing personal views of local history, buildings and people.

Environment councillor Alan Lafferty said: “The conservation village of Eaglesham is without a doubt one of the most attractive villages in Scotland and a jewel in East Renfrewshire’s crown.

“The interesting heritage of the village has always attracted visitors and we are sure the statues and quilt will be a pleasant addition to draw even more interest to the trail.

“This is fantastic news for both East Renfrewshire Council and the community itself and thanks to the support from the Heritage Lottery Fund, we can now forge ahead with the project which will be added to the current Eaglesham Heritage Trail when complete.”

Lucy Casot, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) Scotland, said: “Thanks to National Lottery players the heritage and stories of this fascinating community will now contribute to the prosperity of modern day Eaglesham.

This project will get local people of all ages involved to explore and learn more about the history of the place they call home.”

The pictures here show specialist stone conservator Olga Marzantowicz cleaning and restoring one of the statues; and the statue duo of Robert Burns and Mary Campbell (“Highland Mary”).