Who was Peter Brough?    

When Peter Brough (PB) died in July 1883 he was one of the wealthiest men in Paisley and the effect of his wealth continues today with an active charity in his name that focuses on what is now Paisley University.

PB was born on 25th September1797, not in Paisley but at Old Scone near Perth where he was later apprenticed to a draper. Later he moved to a drapers business in Glasgow, part of which was a small shop in Paisley High Street and a young PB was sent to operate it. It was not doing very well and the owner persuaded PB to buy it. While he was reluctant, he worked hard at the business and it expanded and developed so well he had to move to a bigger shop at 96 High Street. Within a few years he had six shops, three in Paisley.

While the shop did well PB made most of his money from shrewd investments, for example in the private railway companies that abounded at that time. He was also a strong believer in God, became involved in local politics, became a Justice of the Peace and a Director of Paisley Water Company.

PB lived in a mansion in Oakshaw until he died in 1883. After his will was published his trustees arranged for it to be demolished and the Peter Brough Nurses Home to be built. Thomas Graham (TG) Abercrombie was retained and he designed the four storey building in the Scottish Baronial style using red stone from Dumfriesshire. And it was powered by electricity!

The main feature of the front elevation is the tower, with its gated entrance. Inside there was a small office and matrons sitting room and at the end of the passage there was a dining room and drawing room, really one room split by a collapsible partition. This opened out onto a small balcony where the nurses could take the air! On the floors above there were 6 rooms where the nurses stayed and on the floor below were the servants quarters and kitchen. Perhaps there were two nurses in each room as otherwise it would have been very expensive. Where did they work, presumably at the Paisley Infirmary?

The home was opened by Princess Louise, one of Queen Victoria’s daughters who had married Marquess of Lorne, eldest son of the Duke of Argyll in 1871, on 30th November 1897. On the same day she went on to lay the foundation stone of the Paisley Technical School, (also designed by T G Abercrombie) a project promulgated by PB’s trustees. The school evolved into a College and later into Paisley University.

Once Brough Hall was no longer needed as a nurses home it was used as student halls before being sold for redevelopment into flats/apartments.

PB is buried at Woodside Cemetary, his grave marked by a statuary (carved) angel.


 
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