Born: May 29, 1935;

Died: November 1, 2021.

BRIAN Adair, who has died aged 86, was a major figure in Edinburgh’s business community. He founded, and was chief executive of, Ryden Lettings, which he had launched after retiring as senior partner of the leading property company, Ryden. Ryden Lettings became the largest residential property management firm in the capital.

He was often quoted by journalists working on lettings-related stories. In 1999, the Glasgow Herald sought his views on home-owners who were hoping to let their houses to people eager to celebrate the new millennium.

It was, Adair observed, a matter for people whether they paid the prices asked or not. ‘’The problem is that we haven’t got anything to go on. It’s all a matter of conjecture”. He added light-heartedly: “I don’t know what the market was like at the last millennium. I don’t know what caves went for.’’

He was active in many leading organisations in Edinburgh, serving with much distinction as Chairman of the Merchant Company of Edinburgh and as a forward-looking chairman of the Royal Scots Club in Abercromby Place.

His enthusiasm for cricket in Scotland and for his old school, George Watson’s College, knew no bounds. He played some 400 games for Watsonians over many years and was instrumental in their ground being upgraded for regular use by the national side during the late 1980s and early 1990s.

He was President of the Scottish Cricket Union in 1983 and Chair in 1986, and was an influential member of the SCU Committee for many years.

The chair of Cricket Scotland, Tony Brian, told The Herald, “Brian was one of the most respected and well-liked people in Scottish cricket and his love for the game and for its spirit were legendary, as was the hospitality he offered all visitors at Watsonians. When he stopped playing, he helped Scottish cricket through various roles”.

Brian Adair was born in west London in 1935, in Daffodil Street, Hammersmith, west London; it is said that the address always amused him, and Wordsworth’s poem I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud, known as The Daffodils, was read at his funeral.

On the outbreak of war his father was posted to Edinburgh and bought a house in Colinton, close to George Watson’s, which Adair attended between 1940 and 1953. He was a keen athlete, notably at cricket and squash, and was the school champion in the latter.

He did his national service with the RAF, and after training as a land agent he joined, in 1960, Kenneth Ryden and Partners. In 1962 he was made a partner and in 1974 senior partner. As a Crown Estate Receiver, he was also involved in many of their public projects, notably the Nicolson Street Development.

He was particularly active in building up the lettings business but also oversaw an expansion of its domestic division. Bill Duguid, a colleague at Ryden, recalls: “Brian made the lettings side very much his baby and was behind the expansion of the firm in the 1970s and 1980s. Offices were opened in Glasgow then in Aberdeen to become involved in the active property market in the city.

“Brian very successfully set up Rydens Lettings in 1989. He was a calm and shrewd businessman with a canny brain and a can-do attitude; all his staff much respected him. Brian was modest, quietly effective and always excellent company.”

Adair’s contribution to the Merchant Company played a central part in his life. He served as Master from 2003-2005, and as Treasurer for one year when the Master was The Princess Royal. During that year he carried out duties on her behalf with his accustomed grace and flair. With his wide experience in the property business he was an influential member of the Company’s Property Committee.

Along with squash his abiding passion was cricket. He first played for Watsonians in 1951. For many years he was the leading run-scorer (he had a record in 1969 of 833 runs) and was no mean bowler.

He served as captain from 1965-67 and President in 1971. He was instrumental in bringing the Australian Test players, Kim Hughes and Terry Alderman, to the club and played a leading part in the refurbishment of Myreside after the fire last year.

Hughes and Adair became great friends and a photo of the Australian was a treasured possession at the home Brian shared with his wife, Mona. Their son, Robin, remembers: “The photo was signed by Kim and he added ‘the best captain I ever played under’. Kim always called dad ‘Bebo’, an affectionate name used by all dad’s cricketing friends.”

For 28 years Adair was a leading figure in the Royal Scots Club. His service to the Club was outstanding and his foresight ensured it adapted to modern conditions. His stewardship contributed hugely to the development of the Club’s premises and he was the driving force behind the major restoration of the Club in the 1990s. The creation of the Princess Royal Suite, for example, greatly improved the facilities.

The Saturday of the Lords Test Match became something of a ritual for Brian and Mona. They would meet friends behind the Pavilion for lunch and chat while the jazz band played. In the evening they met for a barbecue (delightfully dubbed the Lords’ Supper) and relaxed with endless and glorious chatter. Brian and Mona were the most hospitable hosts and always glorious guests.

Adair, a man of much infectious charm and courtesy, married Mona Lindsay in 1966. She survives him along with Robin, his sister Carolyn, and grandson.