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Scottish Labour leader backs Paisley 2021 bid


Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale has publicly backed Paisley’s bid for UK City of Culture 2021, in the latest show of cross-party political support for the town’s ambitions.


Photos courtesy of Hannah Thomson for Paisley.org.uk


The Scottish Labour leader gave her backing during a visit to Paisley Museum where she met young people involved in an award winning creative youth project being funded by the bid.

The bid has received cross-party support, with local politicians hosting events in both the UK and Scottish Parliaments.

The growing support follows on from recent high-profile backers of the campaign, with musician Paolo Nutini and artist John Byrne – who both hail from the town – having done so in recent weeks.

While visiting the town, she was met by Renfrewshire Council Leader Mark Macmillan, Paisley 2021 Bid Manager Stuart McMillan and by participants in Project Z – which will see young people from the town’s Ferguslie Park area trained to write and create their own graphic novels.


The project was part-funded by the area’s Culture, Heritage and Events Fund, a £500,000 five-year scheme which aims to boost the capacity of the local creative scene during the Paisley 2021 bid.

It also received funding from Renfrewshire Council’s ground-breaking Tackling Poverty Programme, which covers a wide range of projects aimed at taking on long-term deprivation issues in the area.

The Paisley 2021 bid aims to use the town’s outstanding collection of heritage and cultural assets to improve the area’s prospects and transform its future.

Kezia’s visit to Paisley Museum comes in the week a fundraising strategy was unveiled for a £49m redevelopment of the Victorian-era building which aims to turn it into a visitor experience of international quality, telling the inspirational stories of Paisley, its heritage and its pattern.

Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale said:

“I am delighted to back Paisley’s bid for UK City of Culture in 2021. A successful bid can support the work Renfrewshire Council is already doing to transform Paisley and would leave a legacy that could improve the lives of people in the town.

“Culture can change the lives of young people living in poverty. Supporting people to develop new skills means they can grow their confidence and compete for the jobs of the future. I had the privilege of meeting with some very talented and engaging young people. All they need is the right support to have a fair chance in life. Paisley’s bid for City of Culture 2021 can be part of that.

“The Glasgow City Deal also provides an opportunity to regenerate Renfrewshire. The UK and Scottish governments should deliver the necessary funding as soon as possible, so people in Renfrewshire can start to feel the benefit of this investment.”

Councillor Mark Macmillan said:

“It was great to welcome Kezia to Paisley today and talk her through the ambitious and hugely exciting vision we have for the town over the years ahead.

“It was also good to meet some of the young people taking part in one of our innovative tackling poverty projects – ultimately the Paisley 2021 bid is about the power of culture to change people’s lives for the better.

“Paisley Museum was a fitting venue for the visit given its status as the anchor project in our plans – the proposed revamp is expected to attract hundreds of thousands of visitors each year into the town centre, creating a boost to the local economy and attracting new jobs.

“Running alongside the major infrastructure improvements being delivered through the Glasgow City Region City Deal – including our plans for a tram-train link between Glasgow Airport and Paisley Gilmour Street Station – major opportunities lie ahead for Renfrewshire and we want to ensure the future for local communities is a bright one.”

Hayden Chivers, aged 18, and a member of Project Z, said:

“This project is a fantastic opportunity that helps improve our life skills and prepare us for the world of work. We’ve been meeting weekly in the local library in Ferguslie Park and we do activities such as creative writing, drama and visual art.

“The project has really benefited many of us and helped us by encouraging us to either stay on at school or go to college, some of us have part-time jobs or volunteer for other organisations. I’m proud to be from Paisley and delighted to be able to show others how great it is to live in this town.”

The team was successful in its application to the Culture, Heritage and Events Fund as part of Paisley’s City of Culture bid and will involve them working on a social history project based on the punk movement in Paisley and other subcultures popular in the town and the legacy left today. The end product will be an exhibition of film, photography and a graphic novel.

For more information, visit www.paisley2021.co.uk

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“Star” Paisley Museum Burns manuscript to go on show every January


An original Burns manuscript that has been in Paisley Museum and Art Gallery’s collection for almost 100 years, but was only recently rediscovered and authenticated, is to go on display in the museum every January when light levels are low enough to protect the delicate ink on paper artifact, and to coincide with Burns Night.


Announcing the month-long exhibit in 2017 (January 17 – February 19) for St. Andrew’s Day (November 30), Renfrewshire Leisure chair, Councillor Jim Harte, said, “I am absolutely delighted that the only existing manuscript of a lovely piece of Burns social verse will be on display in Paisley Museum in the New Year for a limited period and each subsequent January thereafter.

“We are proud to possess this charming piece and thrilled to share it with visitors during what is an extremely important time for Scotland’s largest town. We will be finalising Paisley’s bid for the title UK City of Culture 2021 during the early part of 2017 and this fantastic exhibit reveals yet another layer to our fascinating culture.”

The short verse, written in reply to a party invitation, is in typical Burns style  including wordplay – he combines the tradition for indicating the day of writing with something that suggests he is worse for wear, in “Foorsday”; highlights his joy at the invite, and pledges his attendance whether by horse, or by cart.

The artifact was verified in a letter to the Museum last year by Professor Gerard Carruthers of the Centre for Robert Burns Studies at the University of Glasgow. He said:

“The manuscript is clearly in the handwriting of Robert Burns. The ink and paper are a good match to other authentic Burns manuscript productions. 

“The poem dates from 1785 – 1786. The first publication to give an indication of its origins, and how it came to be in the collection of Paisley Library is ‘The Works of Robert Burns Volumes 1 – 5’ edited by The Ettrick Shepherd and William Motherwell. Motherwell was Secretary of the Paisley Burns Club in 1819 and became President in 1821. This puts him at the centre of Paisley literary life when the poem first surfaces. Motherwell noted that, ‘We are informed it was presented to the library by the late Mr. John Clarkson, of McGavin and Clarkson, threadmakers, Paisley’.”

The manuscript will be displayed alongside a portrait of Burns by James Tannock (1784 – 1862) also in Paisley Museum’s collection. Born in Kilmarnock, Tannock was originally a house painter, but after lessons from Alexander Nasmyth – who was a friend of Burns – became a successful portrait painter.


The manuscript reads:


Yours this moment I unseal,

And faith I’m gay and hearty!

To tell the truth and shame the deil,

I am as fou as Bartie:

But Foorsday, sir, my promise leal,

Expect me o’ your partie,

If on a beastie I can speel

Or hurl in a cartie.


Robert Burns



Monday Night, 10 o’clock

For more information on Paisley Museum visit www.renfrewshireleisure.com

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Ambitious Paisley Museum revamp plans revealed

Cllr Mark Macmillan at Paisley Museum with a Paisley shawl

Plans for a new Paisley Museum which could bring hundreds of thousands of visitors into the town have taken a leap forward after new funding plans were unveiled.

Cllr Mark Macmillan at Paisley Museum with a Paisley shawl

Cllr Mark Macmillan at Paisley Museum with a Paisley shawl

The museum revamp is central to Renfrewshire Council’s ambitious plans to use Paisley’s unique heritage and cultural assets to transform its future, including a bid for UK City of Culture 2021.

And councillors will this week run the rule over a refreshed funding strategy aimed at turning the museum into an international-class visitor destination.

It is predicted the museum will triple current visitor numbers to 125,000 a year, be worth £75m to the local economy over the next 30 years and create 160 new jobs.

Under the new plans, the overall project cost has been reduced from the initial £56.7m to £49m – achieved by working with the architects to reduce the scale of the proposed building work, in a way which still delivers the original aims.

That total is made up by:
– Renfrewshire Council increasing its contribution to £26m from the initial £15m. The bulk of this will come from money already set aside for town centre regeneration;
– an application to the Heritage Lottery Fund for £10m, with councilors being asked to authorise that approach;
– applications for £4m funding from Scotland-wide funding sources;
– an ask of a further £4m of direct funding from UK and Scottish Government;

That would leave a gap of £5m, to be raised through a major fundraising campaign, and which has been assessed as a realistic target over a five-year period.

The new project plans were developed after extensive discussion with experts in museum and major infrastructure projects, and feedback from likely funders.

An initial application to HLF for £15m earlier this year was unsuccessful – with them advising the project needed a greater degree of guaranteed funding to have a better chance of lottery money at a later date.

Renfrewshire Council Leader Mark Macmillan said: “We have already made huge steps forward in recent years with our ambitious plans to use Paisley’s unique heritage assets to drive a transformation of Renfrewshire’s future.

“The proposals to revamp Paisley Museum are the signature project of that and will create a lasting legacy for the town and wider area.

“That will include major tourist footfall to the High Street, and a multi-million-pound boost to the local economy, supporting new jobs and opportunities for local people.

“The project will also retell the inspirational stories of Paisley’s heritage and Pattern by involving local people, provide an outstanding learning resource, and help change perceptions of the town at home and abroad.

“But transformation of that scale and ambition cannot be achieved without major investment and there is no option but for to the council to find its share of that.

“Major projects of this scale are rarely funded on the first ask, but the application process saw us receive some positive feedback about the ambition and viability of the project from funders.

“We also learned what we need to do to have a better chance of being funded next time – and that was to have a greater proportion of the project cost in place.

“The near-£7m reduction in cost and increased contribution from council resources will bridge that gap, while we now have a more robust fundraising strategy in place to bring in the rest of the investment needed from government and other sources.

“We remain excited by what this project will mean for Renfrewshire and believe the plans we are putting in place today will make it a reality.”

The proposals would see an extension to the existing museum, which is operated by Renfrewshire Leisure, to contain a reception, café, shop and weaving studio.

There would also be an extensive refurbishment of the current Victorian-era building, doubling the amount of the town’s collection which could go on view and fixing current issues with disabled access.

If the funding is secured, the museum would close to the public in 2018 and fully reopen in 2022, with development of the project playing a key part in the programme for UK City of Culture 2021, should Paisley win the title.

Related work includes the new publicly-accessible museum store currently being constructed on Paisley’s High Street and due to open in 2017, as well as the plans to move Paisley Central Library from its current home in the museum building to a new facility on the High Street.

The proposals will be considered by members of the council’s Leadership Board on Wednesday 30 November.

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Strawberry Fields Forever: Birding in New York’s Central Park


Paisley Natural History Society is continuing its winter programme of evening talks with an illustrated talk by Tom Byars on Thursday 1 December at 7.30pm at Paisley Museum.

Covering 843 acres, two and a half miles long by half a mile wide, Central Park is an oasis for migrating birds travelling the east coast during spring and autumn. Central Park is considered one of the best birding spots in the United States, attracting birders from all over the world. More than 280 species have been recorded here in iconic bird-watching sites, such as the Ramble, Cherry Hill, Azalea Pond and Strawberry Fields.

This talk is free of charge and open to everyone, just come along.

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Good Old Paisley..A Town We Can be Proud of..!


St Andrew’s Day Film Premieres!

Wed Nov 30th from 6 til 7.30pm at Paisley Museum

To mark St Andrews Day, a night of films that celebrate Paisley!  The main attraction will be the premiere of Paul Mothersole’s new film My Paisley.  The film is a heartwarming story of a schoolgirl’s discovery of the story of her hometown. It is accompanied by premiere’s of We Wore it Well by the Paisley Camcorder Club and Lochwinnoch ‘s Gillian Steel, a film about local fashion…as well as Family Album by  Claire McGinley.  The evening opens with the premiere of Dan Cattigan- Paisley’s Film Man – the story of the fun loving projectionist at Paisley’s La Scala cinema.  There is also a rare chance to see new and previously unseen footage as well as  Threadbare by Jack Wardrop and Falconer Houston’s 1960’s film Tannahill as a live 16mm projection..!


All the films have been locally produced and show that Paisley’s film culture is ready for 2021!

Free tickets available from Paisley Museum front desk during opening hours

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Paisley painter and ceramicist Falconer Houston


Falconer Houston DA HPAI is a long serving Artist Member of the PAI who first exhibited in the Paisley Art Galleries in 1954.




He exhibits his work regularly at the PAI annual exhibitions and even helps with the hanging.  He was a well known teacher in Paisley and is a versatile artist, painter ceramicist and filmmaker.


The “Made in Paisley” exhibition, running in Paisley Museum and Art Galleries from 11th October until 15th January, is showing a retrospective 12 week season of films about Paisley as seen through the eyes of local filmmakers, celebrating 50 years of filmmaking in the town, focusing on the work of local talent including Falconer Houston.

Falconer Houston made films in Paisley from the 1960s to the 1990s. In the ‘Paisley on Film’ Retrospective three of the best of Falconer’s films will be shown from November 8th-November 15th: ‘Tannahill’ recounts the life and times of Paisley’s most famous poet, ‘The Blue Potter’ is about the renowned potter Alex Sharpe, and ‘Cry of the Peewee’ won the coveted Scottish Amateur Film Award in 1970.

An unfinished film by Falconer from the 1960s, ‘My Paisley’, traced the history of Paisley from St Mirin right up to the flourishing Rootes factory in Linwood.  Paul Mothersole, working with local talent, has re-imagined Falconer’s film and brought the history of the town to a new generation.  It will be shown from December 6th-December 11th.

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Interactive Exhibition Celebrating Paisley’s Past, Present and Future Opens at Paisley Museum


Part exhibition, part workshop and part digital studio, the new Made in Paisley exhibition at Paisley Museum is an experiment in creativity and collaboration. Drawing on the rich creative talents of individuals and communities across Renfrewshire, this is the first ever exhibition that is inspired and shaped by our visitors, with hands-on activities for all the family, film screenings and artist-led workshops including free Minecraft workshops. Made in Paisley will open on Tuesday 11 October and close on Sunday 15 January. Admission is FREE.


Neil Bristow, Creative Learning Co-Ordinator at Renfrewshire Leisure and organiser of the exhibition states ‘Made In Paisley draws on a strong authentic tradition of making which exists within the communities of Renfrewshire. We are really excited about drawing on this heritage in fun and exciting ways to reconnect people with their past, and inspire them for the future.’

This constantly evolving exhibition will encourage visitors to explore and celebrate what makes Paisley and Renfrewshire unique. Taking place across 4 art galleries at Paisley Museum, Made in Paisley will feature a Story Wall; a large scale installation made up of hundreds of individual squares, each featuring people’s individual stories. The squares will comprise a variety of different materials and mediums, some created through facilitated workshops others will be created onsite throughout the exhibition.

The ‘Future makers’ part of the exhibition will comprise a digital maker space, featuring computer editing facilities and a specially created ‘Paisley in Minecraft’. There will also be tutor-led drop-in Minecraft workshops during the October week for visitors to learn how to use Minecraft to create their own version/story of Paisley.

A series of films will be screened at our ‘Made in Paisley’ cinema, with a programme of films all about Paisley as seen through the eyes of local filmmakers, celebrating 50 years of filmmaking in the town.

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Renfrewshire remembers Willie Gallacher with cairn on Paisley High Street

(l-r): Stewart MacLennan (Scottish Labour History Society), Councillor Michael Holmes (Renfrewshire Council Depute Leader), John Foster (Morning Star), Audrey and Eric Canning (Custodians of the Willie Gallacher Memorial Library)

One of Paisley’s most famous political sons has been remembered with the unveiling of a new cairn on the town’s High Street.

(l-r): Stewart MacLennan (Scottish Labour History Society), Councillor Michael Holmes (Renfrewshire Council Depute Leader), John Foster (Morning Star), Audrey and Eric Canning (Custodians of the Willie Gallacher Memorial Library)

(l-r): Stewart MacLennan (Scottish Labour History Society), Councillor Michael Holmes (Renfrewshire Council Depute Leader), John Foster (Morning Star), Audrey and Eric Canning (Custodians of the Willie Gallacher Memorial Library)

Willie Gallacher was born in Paisley on 25 December 1881 and went on to become the UK’s last Communist Member of Parliament, serving two terms in the House of Commons for his West Fife constituency. Gallacher died, aged 83, in Paisley on 12 August 1965, with an estimated 40,000 people lining the town’s streets as his funeral cortege passed.

The one time President of the Communist Party of Great Britain was well thought of both within and out with his own party, gaining respect for his commitment to his principles. Throughout his life, Gallacher worked tirelessly for workers’ rights, often falling foul of the powers that be and law while remaining true to his beliefs.

He was an active member of the ‘Red Clydeside’ movement and campaigned throughout the First World War and afterwards for the establishment and protection of workers’ rights, including a maximum 40 hour working week. In 1916, Gallacher was sentenced to six months in prison under the Defence of the Realm Act for his involvement in the publication of an article criticising Great Britain’s involvement in the war.

Renfrewshire Council’s Depute Leader, Councillor Michael Holmes, said: “Willie Gallacher should be a reminder to us all.  History records his burning ambition to improve the lives of the working class.

“I have had the privilege of speaking to those who knew him and they talk of his self-modesty, his respect for political opponents and his passion for peace and social justice.

“He truly was a giant of the working class – a great parliamentarian and a man who sacrificed his own personal freedom for the causes and philosophy in which he believed.”

Audrey Canning, Custodian of the Willie Gallacher Memorial Library, said: “We are pleased that there is now a lasting memorial to Willie in his hometown. Willie was known and highly regarded for his unwavering adherence to his beliefs throughout his life.

“He was a modest man who did not seek acclaim and lived his life simply and this cairn is a fitting memorial to Willie as it captures how he lived his life and how he’d wish to be remembered.”


A simple stone cairn was chosen to commemorate Gallacher in light of the extremely modest way in which he chose to live his life, despite his relatively high profile.

A mini-exhibition celebrating Gallacher’s life and his political achievements is also on display at Paisley Museum. The collection of artefacts, books, newspaper articles and archive videos is open to the public and available to view, for free, until November 12.

The exhibition includes a bronze bust of Gallacher by renowned Russian sculptor Evgeny Vuchetich. Reputed to be Josef Stalin’s favourite sculptor, Vuchetich is best known for the famous Swords to Ploughshares sculpture which sits outside the United Nations’ headquarters in New York.

The unveiling of the memorial cairn was attended by local politicians, members of the Communist Party, relatives and associates of Gallacher.

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Older People’s Comunity Art workshop at Paisley Museum


At part of the Paisley Digital Art Commission by UWS, the two artists, Vicky Isley and Paul Smith, will be running a workshop at Paisley Museum from 10 am on Friday 28 October.


This workshop will be a crafts workshop, dealing with memory and reminiscence, and how we represent memories. The artwork made at the workshop will form part of the exhibition, which will also include the commissioned ‘Paisley Pearl’ digital loom that will generate a unique paisley pattern for everyone in Paisley.

The workshop is free, and you don’t need any digital or craftmaking skills to take part. Registration is via Eventbrite: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/paisley-pearl-art-commission-community-workshop-tickets-27729302089 or e-mail belle.doyle@uws.ac.uk if you would like to come.

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Forestry Commission speaks at next Natural History meeting


Paisley Natural History Society is continuing its autumn programme of evening talks with an illustrated talk by Derek Shannan, Community Ranger, Forestry Commission Scotland on Thursday 6 October at 7.30pm in Paisley Museum.


Forestry Commission Scotland manages the National Forest Estate, some of Scotland’s greatest natural assets. They are responsible for harvesting trees, planting new ones and play a fundamental role in wildlife, environment and heritage conservation.

Forests form part of the unique character of our countryside and Forestry Commission Scotland undertakes research to ensure sustainable forest management, supporting a wealth of biodiversity as well as providing places for people to work and visit.

The talk is free to attend and open to all.