The County You Live, Work And Play

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Ghosts To Blame


Historic Birkwood Castle was built in 1860 and later turned into a psychiatric hospital and is known as one of UK's most haunted places.

Former owners, residents and staff say the Gothic castle is stalked by ghosts including a cigar-smoking spook, a boy on a bike and the spirit of a man stabbed through the throat.

The castle was amid a multi-million pound renovation to turn it into a hotel and luxury apartments - but the plans have been rocked after a large part of the building fell down.

A sudden structural failure has seen part of its walls collapse with such force that some people in the area reported hearing an explosion.

Local paranormal experts say the partial collapse of the building in Lesmahagow, is linked to the high ghostly activity on the site.

Scotland's only professional ghosthunter Tom Robertson says the ghosts maybe angry - because they were being evicted.

He said: "It might have been the ghosts reputedly haunting the building taking a hand in matters to prevent the  going ahead or being angry at being disturbed.

Past incidents at the castle have included strange smells, lights turning themselves off and the sound of mysterious footsteps tramping up and down the empty corridors.

According to local folklore, a boy called Michael is said to stalk the grand spiral staircase where he fell and died.

A young girl's voice has also been heard crying and singing from within empty rooms in other parts of the castle.

And it has even been claimed the figure of a doctor who suffered a heart attack and died while working at the hospital has been seen at windows.

The castle is a Gothic mansion and ex-family home, which dates from 1860.

Last year 'Ghosthunters' Glasgow Paranormal Investigations filmed an episode of their series Haunted Planet TV there and said it was one of the most active locations in which they had filmed.

It was previously a children's hospital before closing in 2002 but plans were announced last year to bring it back to life as part of a £50million project by property tycoons Chris Naylor and Jo Lloyd.

The developers want to regenerate the 86-acre Birkwood estate with the castle as a focal point and they had hoped to finish the work by April 2016.

Following the recent collapse, several local politicians, including Clydesdale MSP Aileen Campbell and her Westminster counterpart for the Lesmahagow area, Lisa Cameron MP, have visited the site to call for work to be carried out to secure the remainder of the building to prevent further collapses.

Alex McInnes, a Labour councillor for South Lanarkshire, said Birkwood Castle had been neglected for a number of years.

He said: "The west wing collapsed on the castle a couple of weeks ago.

"The council and the owners are surveying the full damage to the building and are picking up the rubble to ascertain what exactly happened.

"Birkwood castle has been hugely neglected by the last two or three owners since the late 1990s and has collapsed because no one can afford to maintain it.

"There hasn't been any real investment into it - there's been great ideas and plans but no real investment."

Michael McGlynn, head of planning and building standards services at South Lanarkshire Council, added: "Building standards surveyors were called out to the site on July 21 following reports of the collapse of one of the wings of the building.

"An initial inspection showed that the building was structurally stable and the site was secured to prevent public access.

"The council has been liaising with the owner of the building to determine what led to the recent incident and ensure the structural integrity of the rest of the building.

"Discussions will also take place about the future of the building including the reinstatement of the area that has collapsed.

"The council has also been in contact with Historic Scotland and their advice and guidance will be drawn upon in terms of developing a solution for this situation."

A spokesman for owners Envestco Ltd was unavailable for comment.