Long gone, this rather odd looking building was the home of George Caldwell, a prosperous Stationer, printer and bookseller on the High Street, and his eccentric wife. This architectural folly of a house, at Sandyford, seems to somehow mirror his wife’s personality characteristics. She was known affectionately as ‘Lady Caldwell’, because of her eccentric behaviours….. one of which was that she sent her children to school, or to play, chained up to each other! An enthusiastic temperance reformer, she loved to entertain the public, and local youngsters loved visiting this house, an amusement centre, exhibition and Garden, devoted to non-alcoholic jollity around 1840. At these gatherings, her husband would often play the fiddle for those who wished to indulge in a penny reel.
A fascinating feature at the House was the camera obscura, an optical device which showed the scenery and happenings of the nearby area – “Visitors mounted a wooden stair to a dark room, and made a circle around a table covered with a white cloth, when by a movement of the lenses there was shown a picture of the surrounding country with carts driving, and men ploughing the fields with horses an inch in height, a moving living wonder” (Blair 1907).
This painting, by an unknown artist, is housed in the Paisley Museum and Art Gallery.
With thanks to Oisin