A long-lost book has been returned to a Renfrewshire library more than 50 years late...along with an apology and a £20 note as payment for it being so overdue.

Staff at Paisley Central Library were stunned when they opened a large white padded bag delivered by a postman and found it contained a copy of Mrs Balbir Singh’s Indian Cookery.

The book is thought to have been loaned out from the library, in Paisley’s High Street, around 1968 but, since this was so long ago and before records were digitised, there is now no way of knowing who borrowed it.

The letter accompanying the returned book, published by Mills and Boon in 1965, stated: “Please accept my apologies for the late return of this book.

“Enclosed is a token payment in recognition of this oversight. Thank you.”

The £20 will now be donated to charity, as Renfrewshire Libraries is currently not charging a fine for the return of overdue books.

Balbir Singh was born in the Punjab in 1912 and became an internationally renowned chef, cookery teacher and cookbook author.

Her Indian cookery book was met with much acclaim when it was first published in London in 1961 and went on to inspire future generations of Indian chefs and home cooks.

The book sold hundreds of thousands of copies worldwide and several editions with revisions and recipe additions were printed in the following years.

Mrs Singh died in 1994.

Linda Flynn, Paisley Central Library team supervisor, said: “I was more than a little surprised when I opened the padded envelope and saw what was inside.

“It’s rare to have a book returned after being overdue for so many years. I suspect the book had been lying in a cupboard or a drawer for some time and was only recently discovered.

“It was a lovely gesture from whoever found the book to take the time to send it back with a £20 note as a token gesture for it being so long overdue.

"We’ll make sure the money goes to a good cause.”

Linda also revealed that the book had been “well used."

"Some of the marks on the pages suggested someone had followed the recipes to make a good few dinners," she added.

“Unfortunately, the book isn’t in a condition to put back on our shelves for people to borrow but, since it’s become a talking point among library staff, we’ll keep it in a safe place.”