Paisley Mansions


Many thanks to one of our visitors Eric who runs the Paisley Mansions and Old Railways of Paisley, Renfrewshire and surrounding areas website. The website is well worth a visit and is on my favourites list. click here for link

Here are three examples from the Paisley Mansions website

which is based on the many old Paisley photographs now avaliable
online and two books from Paisley Central library, Millar A H
(1889) The castles and mansions of Renfrewshire and Buteshire

and Ramsay Philip (1839) Views in Renfrewshire, with
historical and descriptive notices.
The houses were built at
a time when the population of Paisley was much smaller than today
and most were crammed into the town centre while the rest of the
area was owned by a small number of wealthy landowners.
Unfortunately most were demolished before the days of listed
buildings, but some are still standing.

The full website is here


The Glen

The Glen - click for larger version

This beautiful house in a spectacular setting
in what is now Glen Park on Glenfield Road was built around 1859
by William Fulton, Laird of Glenfield. who owned the nearby
dyeing and finishing Works. The factory was called Glenfield
Scouring Works and was founded in the 1820s as a bleachworks, and
largely rebuilt in 1879 . It was latterly owned by William Fulton
& Sons Ltd, scourers, dyers and finishers, who used soft
water from the Gleniffer Braes in their processing. It closed in
March 1966. In 1985 , William Fulton & Sons Ltd became F
Miller (Textiles) Ltd. In 1989, the company again changed its
names to CV Childrenswear Ltd, with registered offices in
Glasgow, Scotland. In 2002, CV Childrenswear Ltd was a dormant

Glenfield  Dyeing and Finishing Works  click for larger version

They made the household name ‘Glenfield Starch’
which became so popular that another manufacturer moved to
Glenfield in order to also call his starch by the same name
resulting in a famous ruling from the House of Lords. That’s why
the advert below says “When you ask for Glenfield starch,
see that you get it”. They claimed it was the only starch
used in Queen Victoria’s laundry.

advert  click for larger version

Here is some information
about owner William Fulton and the glen concerts..

Rising from humble beginnings as a weaver he
eventually became a rich industrialist – but never forgot his
roots. When he first took over the estate he expressed a wish
that “all the people of Paisley would be at liberty to come
and walk by the braes and glens, as if it were their own.”
In the same public spirited way he declined to charge the
organisers for the use of the land – all the more surprising
when you consider the scale of the concerts, which were without
parallel in their day and were as impressive as modern pop

glen concert glen concert 1888

In their heyday, the choir numbered around 700 voices, composed
mainly of mill girls and other working class women of the town,
and the concerts, consisting of a mainly Scottish repertoire,
were performed to astonishingly large audiences of around 30,000.
At the time of the Burns statue series however the choir numbered
around 400 and their audience peaked at over 20,000. The
concerts successfully raised money for good causes from 1874
until 1936, when they were discontinued due to lack of support.
One of their first gifts to the town was the fine statue of
Robert Tannahill mentioned earlier, but as they embarked on the
Burns series they were setting a much more ambitious target.

The Glen - click for larger versionThe Glen - click for larger version

The site can be found in Glen Park today beside the children’s
play area.

site of house - click for larger versionView from ground level of house - click for larger version

To see the location (green arrow) on Google Map,
click here


Hawkhead House - click for larger version

Hawkhead was a large mansion house situated a few yards from what
is now Ben Lawers Drive in the modern housing estate of the same
name to the south east of Paisley.

Hawkhead (Halkhead) estate was
originally owned by the Royal Stewarts and  acquired
in 1367  from the future King Robert lI, then Earl of
Strathern  by Sir John Ross for an annual payment of a pair
of gloves, or two pennies of silver, to the King. The original
name of the family was the  ‘de Ros ‘ (from Normandy) which
was changed to the Scottish ‘Ross’ in 1489 when Sir
John Ros was inserted among the Barons of Parliament as
Lord Ross of Hawkhead .

This was the famous  John ‘Palm My
Arm’ Ross  who lies at Renfrew Parish Church with his
wife Marjory Mure.

renfrew effigy of John Ross

The name ‘Palm My Arm’ comes from
wrestling. Ross was said to have been granted the King of
Scotland’s  favourite land after winning a fight to the
death against a giant Englishman with a moat on one side and a
raging fire on the other. Even though the honour of Scotland had
been saved, the King was reluctant to let the land go, but
Ross insisted. It was King’s Inch in Renfrew !!  There must
be some truth to the tale because the Ross family
was granted
King’s Inch and owned it until 1760. The full story is

The family held the estate unbroken
until the 13th Lord Ross who had no sons. He did have a daughter,
who married the third Earl of Glasgow. Their son succeeded to the
Earldom of Glasgow and was raised to the peerage  as Lord
Ross of Hawkhead, that line having died out in the male
line. The estate therefore went to the Earls
of Glasgow. Hawkhead had a very old tower, but the main part
of the building was built in 1634 including orchards and large
gardens  with alterations in 1750 to 1780 by Robert Adam,
the famous Scottish architect. It was visited in 1681 by the Duke
of York, afterwards King James VII.

The title ‘Lord Ross expired with the fourteenth
Lord in 1754. and the estate passed first
to his eldest sister, Mrs Ross Mackye, and next to a younger
sister, Elizabeth, widow of the third Earl of Glasgow. Her son,
the fourth Earl, succeeded her in 1791, and in 1815 was created
Baron Ross of Hawkhead in the peerage of the United Kingdom. The Earls
of Glasgow are the
Boyle family
who’s seat is (still) at
Kelburne Castle
near Largs.

The 1881 census showed a
gamekeeper called James Dunlop with his wife, mother and son, a
head servant called Margaret Wilson and another servant by the
name of Catherine Methven living in the house. In 1886 the estate
was sold to William Stevenson, a Glasgow Quarrymaster including
the mansion house and three farms to the south. Lime was quarried
on the estate and there is a disused quarry still marked on the
current Ordnance Survey map. Later occupants included John Lye,
who owned a drapery warehouse in Glasgow

In 1914 it became part of a
mental hospital called Hawkhead Asylum (now Leverndale
Hospital). The house itself was eventually demolished in 1953.
There were two entrances to the estate, one near the Hurlet at
the curve of the road and is still clearly a track and the other
near the river Cart on the current cycle track at the bottom of
the hill going up to the former hospital and tower. A road also
ran from the hospital farm to the house.There is a 1923 map below
with a reservoir (formerly a quarry) showing and the various
tracks. A
water pipe ran
the two miles from there to the Saucel whisky distillery at

hawkhead House 1923 map click for bigger version

The nearby farm, a ‘B’
listed building (called Hawkhead House farm) was built in 1769
and was the residence of the head coachman. Horses were also kept
for hunting. On the map, it is marked as ‘offices’.

Below are two recent
pictures. Firstly the remains of what are probably the cellars at
the back of the house just a few yards from the Hawkhead estate.
Secondly, the strange sight of metal traffic barriers in the
trees just a hundred or so yards from the cycle track which must
have been a road up to the hospital farm (now demolished). There
was also a patient’s golf course near there until a few years

Remains of Hawkhead Houseroad to patient's farm (now demolished)

The Ross family also gave
their name to Ross
maternity hospital
which was in Hawkhead Road and became Ross House, the health
board headquarters and the Ross Hall estate including Ross Hall
House, now a private hospital Ross Hall Park in Crookston
was originally part of the larger Hawkhead Estate. Ross Hall Mains Farm is the farm with the
horses on Scott’s Road across the river from the cycle track.

Hawkhead House - click for larger version

To see the location (green arrow) on Google Map, click here

Stanely Castle

Stanely Castle engraved by wh lizars - click for larger version

Stanely Castle is a well known Paisley landmark, saved from
demolition by the fact it is in the middle of a reservoir. Many
local legends are attached to it including a tunnel from the
castle to the abbey and Mary Queen of Scots being imprisoned
there. Both untrue.

The exact date of the construction of tyhe castle is unknown,
but it may have been built in the early fifteenth century when
the land passed by marriage from the Dennistouns to the Maxwells
of Calderwood. In 1629 the Maxwells sold their Stanely property
to Lady Ross of Hawhead. It passed by marriage to the Boyle
family in the middle of the 18th century. David Boyle had been
made the first Earl of Glasgow in 1703 and the family’s main
estate was centred around Kelburn Castle at Largs. In the 18th
century, part of it was being used as a schoolroom where local
children were taught reading, writing and arithmetic.By the 19th
century the family found themselves in serious debt and Stanely
Castle was abandoned and fell into ruin. In 1838 the Earl of
Glasgow sold the castle and surrounding land to the Paisley Water
Company for the construction of the reservoir in which it now
sits which supplied the people of Paisley and its surrounding
areas with fresh water. Over the years, the reservoir level was
raised. It now submerges the lower portion of the castle.


The castle is constructed in local freestone, which shows very
little sign of weathering. It has been constructed of large,
roughly squared and hammer dressed blocks, which have been laid
in rough courses. Corbels and window margins are dressed. A high
proportion of masonry is cut and dressed stone, especially in the

Stanely Castle  - click for larger version


The castle is an L-shaped tower house of four stories, which
originally would have included a garret, but it is clear that the
castle was constructed in two phases. The original castle being a
rectangular tower aligned NNE-SSW. To this block was added a
square extension or jamb. When the jamb was added it was
necessary to add new openings into the new rooms. The castle was
entered by its only door which is on the east side.

The first floor, and all upper floors were reached by a spiral
staircase in the northeast corner. The ground floor was occupied
by 2 compartments or cellars. There was a private staircase in
the south gable which gave private access to the Hall above. The
first floor was occupied by the Kitchen in the Jamb, and the
great hall and a private cabinet in the main block. The second
and third floors each contained two bedrooms in the main block
and an additional room in the Jamb. Each of these rooms contained
a privy and fireplaces.

Stanely has two storeys over the hall, with no indication of
rooms in the roof space. However it is possible that one attic
room or a pair of small rooms could have been created. The Hearth
Tax return for 1691 lists eleven hearths. Since the floors up to
parapet level only account for nine hearths, this strengthens the
case for attic rooms in the main block.

Stanely Castle  - click for larger version

To see the location (green arrow) on Google Map, click here