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US descendant donates portraits to Scots village library - East Renfrewshire Culture and Leisure Trust

US descendant donates portraits to Scots village library

Paintings now take pride of place on wall of local library

McAdam Paintings in Busby Library Displays a larger version of this image in a new browser windowAn American descendant of the man who played a pivotal role in the industrial and social development of Busby in the 19th century has visited the village to see his portrait hung in the local library.

The portraits of John McAdam and his wife, Catherine - painted more than 130 years ago  - were donated to Busby Library by his great-great-granddaughter, Heather Macadam, who had flown in from Hampton, New York for the unveiling. The paintings now take pride of place on the wall of the library after being in the McAdam family home in America for generations.

John McAdam spent 23 years in Busby as print works manager of Inglis and Wakefield. Along with his wife and children, Elizabeth, Catherine, Jane and John, he stayed in the village and immersed himself in the local community. The portraits were commissioned by colleagues and friends from the East Renfrewshire village in December 1884 as a farewell gift after John and Catherine moved to Glasgow when he took a new job as manager of a calico print company in the city. The paintings, by well-known artist, Robert Cree Crawford, along with a gift of 350 sovereigns, were presented to John and Catherine at a special event in The Grand Hotel, in Charing Cross, Glasgow.

John first came to Busby in 1861 and two years later was elected chairman of the Board of Management of Busby United Presbyterian Church - now Busby Parish Church - a position he held for three years.

He was a founder member of Busby Bowling Club in 1875 and served as its President two years later. John was also a founder member of the Busby Horticultural Society in 1881 and was vice-president the following year. This group still exists today, now known as the Busby and Clarkston Horticultural Society. John was also involved in The Busby Penny Savings Bank, the local branch of the Mechanics Institute and Busby Cricket Club.

John oversaw a major expansion of Busby Printworks, which employed more than 860 people, overseeing the installation of the modern machinery of the time. He also played a role in bringing the railway to Busby. His boss at Inglis and Wakefield, Joseph Wakefield had formed the Busby Railway Company and John worked tirelessly to help bring the trains to the village and also dedicated train tracks to the print works.

The portraits were taken to America after John McAdam's son, John emigrated.
Heather, 55, said: "My dad, Richard Macadam, who is 85 years old had moved to an apartment and didn't have room to hang the portraits in his new home.
"When we were deciding what to do with the paintings, my dad had researched about our ancestors staying in Busby, so we thought the portraits would be of more value to the community there than being in storage. That's when we contacted the local library and offered to donate the portraits.

"The library in Busby is the perfect place for the paintings as my family have always loved books - in fact, some of my relatives are extremely fast speed readers - and I'm an author myself."
Heather added: "I'm sure my great-great-grandfather will be looking down approvingly at everyone reading their books in Busby Library."

Anthony McReavy, Chief Executive of East Renfrewshire Culture and Leisure - the organisation that runs sports, leisure and cultural services in the area -said:
"By all accounts John and Catherine McAdam were very well-respected not only by his local community, but throughout the printing industry in the UK.
"He played a major role in expanding an industry that employed hundreds of local people and was involved in many and varied community and social activities.
"We can't thank John's great-great-granddaughter, enough for donating the portraits of such important people to Busby to our local library.
"You could say John and Catherine have come home."

Photograph shows Heather Macadam who flew from the USA to see the portraits of her great-great-grandfather and great-great-grandmother hanging on the wall at Busby Library.


Created 7 March 2016

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