Gathering Threads – A Celebration
‘Paisley was the mills and the mills were Paisley’ *
Thanks to the generosity of Mr Marcus Dean, the Anchor Mill Atrium appropriately hosted 200 enthusiastic Renfrewshire school children – a credit to their schools – to celebrate the publication of their ‘Gathering Threads’ anthology.
The school children have been working with local poets: Mo Blake, Kathryn Daly and Tracy Patrick, learning about their local mill heritage, increasing their writing skills, visiting the Paisley Thread Mill Museum, interviewing past mill workers and recording their impressions in poetry, drama and art. Their wonderful writing is published in the ‘Gathering Threads’ anthology. The cover images and internal artwork are the winning pieces from the project’s art competition, judged by the Convenor of Education, Cllr Jacqueline Henry, Margaret Burleigh of the Paisley Thread Mill Museum committee and Caroline Watson, local artist and committee member of Weaving Musical Threads. The ‘Gathering Threads’ project was supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, All Our Stories fund, Renfrewshire Council Education Department and the arts association, Weaving Musical Threads. The All Our Stories fund was launched last year to support and enable people to explore, share and celebrate their local heritage and the Gathering Threads project was one of the first in the UK to receive a Heritage Lottery Fund All Our Stories grant.
At the start of the ‘Gathering Threads’ project, local poet and workshop leader, Tracy Patrick said; “It’s a fabulous opportunity to explore the history of Paisley’s Thread Mills. There are so many stories to discover, spanning generations of people who worked in the mills and we’re especially thrilled that young people in Renfrewshire will now have the opportunity to engage creatively with that history and preserve it for future generations.”
The celebration in the historic Anchor Mill was a joy to be part of. A selection of the pupils from the Renfrewshire schools that took part in the project: Gallowhill Primary, Glencoats Primary, St. John Ogilvie Primary, St. Mary’s Primary, West Primary, Williamsburgh Primary and Paisley Grammar School, recited their poetry and drama in the Atrium. Margaret Muir spoke on behalf of the Thread Mill Museum and Cllr Jacqueline Henry – whose own mother worked in the mills, in fact in Anchor Mill itself, and clearly remembers those busy days of Paisley’s industrial heritage – spoke on behalf of Renfrewshire Council Education Department. Every child was presented with a copy of their ‘Gathering Threads’ anthology and a Certificate of Achievement for participation in this very valuable and most enjoyable project.
Further copies of the ‘Gathering Threads’ anthology will be available from the Paisley Thread Mill Museum – which, with added volunteer assistance, for the first time will be able to be open during the winter months every Wednesday and Saturday from 12noon to 4pm.
Photographs are thanks to Weaving Musical Threads and to Brian McGuire and Ian McDonald of paisley.org.uk
*Margaret McFadden in ‘Mill Memories’ by Evelyn Hood
Old Paisley’s women working hard
Making Paisley Proud.
The men getting the easier jobs
And getting more money than the lassies.
The lassies only getting 65 pence a week.
“Nae mare!” they all said.
Thousands of Paisley Mill lassies marching
Oot the gates of old Paisley Mills shouting,
“Come on ladies let’s get a fair pay equal to the lads!”
Then old Paisley’s mills
were working once again in Old Paisley.
by Mirren Porteous
formerly of West Primary School, now S1 pupil at Castlehead Secondary School