This afternoon, I had a rare opportunity to visit a collection of statues located in the conservation village of Eaglesham, south of Glasgow. This unusual collection is only available for viewing by special arrangement.

The sculptor, William Gemmell was a somewhat shy and modest man who spent his entire life¬† (1814-1891) in Eaglesham. He was a joiner (carpenter) by trade and took up sculpting as a hobby. During the period 1842-1845 he created a group of 15¬†life-size statuary representing the family circle described in Robert Burns’ poem”The Cottar’s Saturday Night.” However, the whereabouts of this group is not known. The only known surviving statues are located in the Eaglesham collection and comprise:

Street Urchin

Street Urchin By Gemmell

Gypsy Woman Grieving over Dying Child.

Gypsy Woman

Robert Burns and Highland Mary.

The Scottish poet Robert Burns and his partner Mary Campbell. Relationship lasted from April to May 1786. Mary died October 1786.

Robert Burns and Highland Mary

William Hall, a local strongman.

Hall was the Eaglesham Village Blacksmith, born 1798. In addition to his strongman activities he was known for skills with herbal medicines for treatment of minor ailments.

Gemmell: William Hall, Strongman

Hawkie, a beggar.

Real name William Cameron who was born near Stirling. Started work as a tailor but because of deformed foot he became a beggar in Glasgow.

Gemmell: Hawkie the Beggar

The Blind Fiddler.

Reputed to be Alexander McDonald who was born in Penrith, England and moved to Glasgow in 1790 age 19 yrs. McDonald made a successful living as a strolling fiddler.

Gemmell: The Blind Fiddler

Overall, a fascinating and unique collection. Access by special arrangement via Giffnock Library.

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