With work almost complete on the multi-million pound refurbishment of Paisley Town Hall, attention has turned to bringing new life to the sounds of its clock tower.

OneRen, the culture and leisure charity that will operate the Town Hall, is leading on The Chimes Project, a transformative initiative that will restore Paisley Town Hall’s historic carillon, a unique keyboard instrument consisting of a range of bells housed within the tallest of the two towers. This ambitious project, funded by The National Lottery Heritage Fund and Historic Environment Scotland, aims to not only restore the iconic instrument to its former glory but also foster community engagement through a series of workshops led by renowned artists.

The Chimes Project will be a celebration of Paisley’s rich history and vibrant culture, offering an opportunity for residents to reconnect with their heritage and play a significant role in shaping the carillon’s new musical playlist. The project runs from July 2023 with a showcase event scheduled for September 2023.

Deborah Shaw, a highly esteemed composer, harpist, and pianist based in Edinburgh, has been commissioned by OneRen to facilitate creative music workshops for The Chimes Project. Deborah said: “My artistic vision is to fuse real instruments, voice, and progressive electronica to create captivating and evocative soundscapes. We will have workshops, where participants will explore significant moments in Paisley’s historical and contemporary life, which will serve as inspiration for new melodies composed specifically for the carillon.”

Once complete, the project aims to introduce a minimum of six original melodies that resonate with the community’s shared experiences.

Renowned local visual artist and social historian, Lil Brookes of Gatekeeper Art, has also been commissioned to lead a series of community engagement workshops focused on Paisley Town Hall and the “carillon” musical device. These workshops will serve as a platform for participants to share stories and reminisce about the Town Hall while exploring the intricacies of the carillon. Lil will encourage participants to suggest a new playlist with a distinct Paisley/Renfrewshire “slant” for this unique musical instrument.

To ensure a comprehensive collection of stories and memories, Lil Brookes will utilise social media to appeal for personal accounts related to Paisley Town Hall and the carillon. The responses gathered will be used during the showcase event in September 2023, making it a truly collaborative and community-driven celebration.

OneRen’s Arts Producer for Music, Marie Collins, said: “It’s wonderful to have Lil and Deborah on board as we look to breathe new musical life into this historic building. But we need the help of the people of Paisley, Renfrewshire and beyond. We need them to tell us their memories of the carillon and the music that makes memories and inspires. That way, they can be part of the chimes that make our incredible town hall resonate with the local community.”

The Chimes Project has several key aims, including raising awareness of the historical significance and architectural brilliance of Paisley Town Hall, highlighting its role in shaping local life, and creating a calendar of notable moments in Paisley’s history to be commemorated through the new clock chimes. The project also intends to identify popular songs and melodies that align with the historical milestones, further deepening the connection between the town and its cherished carillon.

OneRen is eager to see The Chimes Project inspire unity, creativity, and pride within the Paisley community as the town hall’s carillon resonates once again. The project promises to be a testament to the power of heritage restoration and community engagement through the universal language of music.

If you have a musical memory you want to share, then contact gatekeeperart@gmail.com


Founder of Paisley.org.uk in 1998 and constantly strives to change peoples attitudes to the town, Brian is a self described Paisley Digital Champion who promotes Paisley via any means necessary. You can also follow me on X