PART of Paisley’s horticultural past is being dug up and brought into the 21st century.
Books of minutes from meetings of the Paisley Florists’ Society dating back to 1797 have been digitised and can now be seen on the paisley.is website.


Claiming to be the oldest horticultural society in the UK, the Paisley Florists was founded in 1782 by the town’s weavers.

David Weir, Heritage Co-ordinator with Renfrewshire Leisure explains: “When the Paisley Florists’ Society was formed, the weavers were at the high point of their trade with stable employment and earnings. This income allowed them to have free time to spend on hobbies.


“Farm produce being sold in towns during the industrial revolution and the weavers spending power also meant they did not have to grow food in their gardens.

“This combination of factors meant they could grow flowers in the weavers’ cottage gardens and the Paisley Florists Society was born.”

Members met every week in a local hotel, exhibiting babs – an old Scots word for a posy – of seasonal flowers to be judged by the society. The florists grew eight show flowers – Auricula, Tulip, Polyanthus, Carnation, Anemone, Hyacinth, Ranunculus and Pink.

In the first minute book, 1797-1833, rule XVII states: “The two flower judges shall be chosen by open vote at a quarter before nine and they are to be ordered down to judge the flowers exactly at nine o’clock.

“It is requested that the landlord will provide a candle and a separate apartment if convenient for the better deliberation of the judges”

And a minute from a meeting in November, 1804 reads: “This night came on the discussion of the important notion of the changing of the place of the meeting. After some discussion, it was unanimously agreed that, as the ale was considerably improved, they remain in the house for some time longer.”
The digitisation project was funded by Arts and Business Scotland and the work carried out by Paisley digital scanning and archiving specialist company, Abergower.

Carl Watt, Head of Programmes at Arts and Business Scotland, said: “We are very pleased to support this partnership between Renfrewshire Leisure and Abergower Ltd through the Culture and Business Fund Scotland.
“Abergower Ltd’s sponsorship of this significant local project to digitise The Paisley Floral Society minute book will help make this unique resource more widely available to the public and raise the profile of the project.
“By matching their sponsorship pound for pound, the Culture & Business Fund Scotland aims to encourage many more businesses in Scotland to sponsor cultural projects in their local community.”
Robin Prior, managing director of Abergower added: “This project was an ideal demonstration of the skill, capability and expertise we have to produce an output of something very delicate and precious. It has allowed the amazing contents of the book to be accessed to a wide community of people interested in this very precious material.

“Each page was physically turned by hand by one of our skilled staff and captured to a very high resolution. The images were then processed through our quality control systems to achieve exact colour matching and crispness of resolution”

Councillor Lisa-Marie Hughes, chair of Renfrewshire Leisure’s board said: “This project allows people to easily access information about an important part of Paisley’s culture and heritage.
“I’m sure people and especially the many local gardening enthusiasts, will find the digitised minutes of great interest.”