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Celebrating the life and achievements of Alexander Wilson


Across the Pond from Paisley; celebrating the life and achievements of Alexander Wilson.

A new exhibition, entitled Alexander Wilson – Paisley’s Poet, America’s Ornithologist, opens at Paisley Museum on Friday 14 June. The exhibition will run until Sunday 1 September and admission is free.

One of Paisley’s most famous sons, Alexander Wilson was a weaver and a poet, but is best known for his illustrations of North American birds. This exhibition commemorates the bicentenary of Alexander Wilson’s death, looking at his life both in Scotland and America and highlighting his outstanding contribution to the science of ornithology.

Born in 1766, Wilson first found employment as a cow-herder before being apprenticed at the age of 13 as a weaver. It was during this time that he first turned his hand to poetry, a pastime which was almost a tradition amongst Paisley weavers. Some of his work however, was deemed to be libelous by the authorities of that time, and in 1794, after a couple of brushes with the law, Wilson made the decision to immigrate to America.

His interest in nature, in particular bird life, was further enhanced by his exposure to the wilds of the American countryside, vast areas of which were still unexplored at that time.

His first epic journey took him to Niagara, where he travelled all 1200 miles on foot, and provided the catalyst for what would become his life work – to describe and record all the birds of North America.

His publication ‘American Ornithology’ ran to nine volumes and illustrated all North American birds for the first time. This led Wilson to become known as the ‘Father of American Ornithology’.

This exhibition will celebrate the life and times of one of Paisley’s most famous sons, and the legacy he left to the science of ornithology.

For more information on Alexander Wilson, future exhibitions or events please visit or follow us on Facebook


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Baker Street legend gets ‘own’ Drive

Martha and Mark Rafferty

Baker Street legend gets ‘own’ Drive
Daughter Martha’s delight at home town tribute to Gerry Rafferty

The daughter of legendary singer-songwriter Gerry Rafferty today (Thu) told of her pride after a street bearing his name was officially opened in his home town.

Martha Rafferty joined her singer-songwriter cousin Mark Rafferty in Shortroods, Paisley, to mark the formal unveiling of Gerry Rafferty Drive.

The new street is situated within the second phase of Sanctuary Scotland Housing Association’s regeneration of Shortroods. Both Sanctuary Scotland and Renfrewshire Council were inundated with suggestions after it emerged the street would need to be named.

Martha and Mark Rafferty

Martha, 41, said: “Being recognised in this way in his home town would have made dad incredibly proud. Pride’s definitely what I feel when I see his name on the street signs.

“Many residents have been telling me they love their new homes through dad’s fan page on Facebook. Many of my family still live in and around Paisley, so that’s obviously nice for us to hear.

“Dad grew up in the old tenements in Underwood Lane about a mile from Shortroods but those buildings were demolished years ago.

“The new homes by Sanctuary Scotland are a fitting and lasting tribute to dad’s memory and musical legacy. He would have been delighted to have his name associated with quality social housing built for local people”.

Today’s event takes place exactly one year after Sanctuary Scotland honoured Gerry’s fellow ‘Humblebum’ Billy Connolly. On 22nd November 2011, the housing association unveiled a mural of the comedian at its £50 million regeneration of Anderston, Glasgow, near to where Connolly was born.

Gordon Laurie, director – Sanctuary in Scotland, said: “This occasion effectively completes the latest phase of our regeneration of Shortroods and it’s a wonderful way to sign off.

“The name was ultimately a decision for Renfrewshire Council but they could not have made a better choice. It’s a fitting tribute to a brilliant musician who lives on through his music.

“We are delighted Martha was able to attend and see the warmth of feeling for her father. I never knew we’d get the opportunity to honour both ‘Humblebums’ but I’m delighted our development bears Gerry’s name”.

Sanctuary Scotland has now built 223 affordable homes for local families in Shortroods. Of the 83 houses built in Phase 2, 62 are for rent with 21 being sold on a shared equity basis. Gerry Rafferty Drive’s 34 homes are a mix of two and three-bedroom properties, plus two wheelchair-accessible bungalows. Plans for a third phase of houses are being worked up in partnership with Renfrewshire Council.

Councillor Tommy Williams, Convener of Renfrewshire Council’s Housing and Community Safety Policy Board, said: “The council is committed to providing our community with high quality, affordable housing. We’re delighted to be working with Sanctuary Scotland on the regeneration of Shortroods and in particular the provision of much-needed family homes. It’s also great that Martha Rafferty has leant her support to the initiative in her father’s name”.

To find out more about Sanctuary Housing please click here.