Paisley Daily Express

WAY Ghostly whispers from Peesweep

- The former Peesweep Sanatorium

WE REVISIT DEREK PARKER’S RAMBLES THROUGH RENFREWSHI­RE

Mine of informatio­n

One dark night many years ago I walked homeward through the fir forest at the former Peesweep Sanatorium after a day on the Gleniffer Braes.

There was a crescent moon in the starstudde­d sky when I heard ghostly voices singing a mournful Highland lament.

The music came from a ‘tinker’ camp on the site of the long- demolished Peesweep Inn which stood by the side of the Paisley to Lugton Road.

It evoked mystic memories of days when the sanatorium – now Lapwing Lodge Scout Centre – provided accommodat­ion for Paisley people suffering from tuberculos­is, a lungwastin­g disease.

I knew Peesweep medical staff and patients nursed back to health in the sanatorium which was built around a century ago by the Coats family of Paisley thread- manufactur­ing fame amidst moors and pinewoods on the windswept Gleniffer Braes.

They told me about a poverty-stricken Paisley girl named Cathie whose mother died when the girl was aged just 12. The child looked after her brothers and

Derek Parker knew many of Paisley’s secrets – the grimy and the good.

He wandered every corner in search of the clues that would unlock Renfrewshi­re’s rich history.

These tales were shared with readers in his hugely popular Parker’s Way column.

We’ve opened our vault to handpick our favourites for you.

sisters because their father was addicted to booze.

Sadly, Cathie’s exertions weakened her little frame.

She contracted tuberculos­is and died with sunbeams streaming through the sanatorium window and gilding her broken body with a golden glow.

She was buried in a pauper’s grave in Hawkhead Cemetery.

I told this story when I worked as a countrysid­e ranger and took people on guided walks to Renfrewshi­re places of interest.

I described how Cathie’s ghost was said to haunt the sanatorium where she spent her last few days.

One day I received a poem sent anonymousl­y by someone inspired by Cathie’s story. It read: “Take your head on my shoulder, Daddy, turn your face to the

West. It’s the hour when the sky turns gold, the hour that mother loved best. The day has been long without you, Daddy, you’ve been too long away. Now you’re tired of your work, Daddy, and I’m tired of my play. But I’ve got you and you’ve got me so everything seems just right. I wonder if mother is thinking of us because this is my birthday night.”

The mysterious message was a poignant plea from a little child beyond the grave reminding me of hardships endured by Paisley’s working-class families.

“Remember us” was Cathie’s call.

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