Doors Open Days 2019

From medieval underground structures and buildings steeped in history, to allotments, fire stations and music schools, there will be plenty to celebrate about Renfrewshire at Doors Open Days (link is to 2012 photos enjoy) 2019.

Doors Open Days 2019

On Saturday 7 and Sunday 8 September, venues all over Renfrewshire – many of which do not normally allow access to what’s going on behind the scenes – will throw open their doors and invite people to delve deeper into their history.

Doors Open Days is Scotland’s largest free festival that celebrates heritage and the built environment, old and new. This year marks the 30th anniversary of Doors Open Day nationally, with more than 1000 buildings set to open across the country.

This year in Renfrewshire, more than 50 venues will welcome people of all ages across the weekend.

Many of the old Doors Open Days favourites – including Sma’ Shot Cottages and Paisley Abbey – are getting involved again this year, and a few new venues have stepped up to share their stories.

There will also be the opportunity to see inside Paisley’s medieval Abbey Drain. Look out for more detail on that in the coming weeks.

Renfrewshire Provost Lorraine Cameron is encouraging people of all ages to get involved across the weekend.

Provost Cameron said: “We’re so lucky here in Renfrewshire to have such a fantastic array of beautiful, historic buildings, but we don’t often get the chance to see what goes on behind the scenes.

“Doors Open Days is a great opportunity for people of all ages to find out more about these buildings and to hear stories about our culture and heritage which will help inform our future.

“Venues have organised a brilliant range of activities across the weekend and learning will definitely be fun.

“Major events like this are great for the local economy as they get people out and about and spending money with local traders.

“We should be very proud of our history and heritage here in Renfrewshire and I hope that people of all ages take time out to get involved.”

Activities will be taking place in Paisley, Renfrew, Linwood, Johnstone, Lochwinnoch, Kilbarchan, Bridge of Weir, Houston, Erskine and Inchinnan.

Doors Open Days is coordinated nationally by the Scottish Civic Trust and is part of European Heritage Days supported by Historic Environment Scotland.

A full list of venues can be viewed online at www.paisley.is

For a look forward to what’s coming up across Renfrewshire visit www.renfrewshire.gov.uk/events or www.paisley.is

We already knew Scotland’s finest and best-preserved medieval tunnel lies buried beneath Paisley town centre – but the centuries-old mystery of where it ended had never been solved…until now.

A team of experts spent the summer excavating at Paisley’s Abbey Drain – and painstakingly uncovered a well-preserved 14th-century stone archway marking the exact point the drain and its contents once flowed into the River Cart.

They found the tunnel – believed to be around 100m long – ends around 3m from the banks of the present-day river, which would have been wider and shallower at the time the drain was built.

And while the find is now being covered up again, the discovery could help lead to a more permanent visitor attraction opening up access to the drain in the future.

The eight-week Abbey Drain Big Dig was co-ordinated by Renfrewshire Council and led by Guard Archaeology Ltd, funded by National Lottery Heritage Fund, Historic Environment Scotland and Renfrewshire Local History Forum.

More than 6,500 people visited the dig over the eight weeks, which also saw a strong community element, with volunteers from the local history forum taking part, and a series of events and seminars for residents and visitors.

Dig leader Bob Will of Guard Archaeology has described the condition of what the team found as ‘incredible’. He said: “We found more than I was expecting and it is really exciting.

“We found the end of the drain and what was the boundary wall of the monastery. The river was wider and shallower in those days – much more than in the last couple of hundred years, as the walls now surrounding it are artificial.

“The main parts of the drain date back to the mid-14th-century and are incredibly well preserved. It goes as least as far as the road in front of Renfrewshire House.

“Often these types of drains are in rural areas not urban ones where there will have been pressure on the land above it – but considering the amount of buildings on that site over the centuries, the condition of the drain is quite incredible.”

The Abbey Drain has lain hidden for centuries until it was unexpectedly rediscovered in the 19th century, and in recent years, it has been periodically opened up for visitors.

There will be an opportunity for the public to put their names forward for a ballot to go inside it during this year’s Doors Open Day in September.

And Bob believes the finds of the past few weeks could help the development of a more permanent attraction opening up a greater degree of public access to the drain.

He said: “What we have uncovered has helped us see what could be done with any future excavation. We now know much more about the medieval ground levels and have a good idea where some of the monastery buildings were.

“Ideally there would be more permanent access to the drain at some point in the future and what we’ve uncovered here makes that much more feasible.”

Renfrewshire Council leader Iain Nicolson added: “Paisley is already on the map as a key visitor destination within Scotland and we are already delivering on ambitious plans to use our unique heritage to drive new footfall to the town centre.

“We would be keen to explore any opportunities to build on that by opening up more permanent access to the Abbey Drain at some point in the future – and the findings of the Big Dig mean we now know more than ever about this incredible feature beneath the town centre.

“The Big Dig was a really great community project which has created a lot of interest in Paisley town centre and its history over the past couple of months.

“We would like to thank our funders for helping make it happen, and all who have been involved in the projects – particularly the local volunteers who came out in all weathers to take part.”

Over the course of the Big Dig, the following community benefits were delivered:

– 120 Primary school children from across Renfrewshire visited the Big Dig to learn about their local heritage and archaeology;

– 1,200 hours of volunteer time, and 18 new members for Renfrewshire Local History Forum

– 12 archaeology students gained vocational training as part of their degree, and four Masters students from UWS produced video content;

Renfrewshire community groups are being invited to take centre stage at Paisley’s Halloween Festival…by joining the spooktacular parade.

The award-winning festival – the biggest of its kind in Scotland and one of the UK’s must-see Halloween events – will take over Paisley town centre on Friday 25 and Saturday 26 October.

The event – run by Renfrewshire Council – is being supported by EventScotland as part of their National Programme funding, which will allow an extended programme of outdoor performances.

Last year’s festival was the biggest yet – with 34,000 visitors to Paisley and worth more than £1.9m to the local economy.

This year’s event will have a theme of ‘dark circus’ – with the parade co-ordinated by internationally-acclaimed performance specialists Cirque Bijou, who want school and community groups to work with them in the run-up to the event and take part in the parade on the day.

They are looking for people to take part in carnival workshops and street theatre, dance and musical performances. Any interested groups should contact events@renfrewshire.gov.uk

Julian Bracey, artistic director of Cirque Bijou, said: “We are really excited to be part of this year’s celebrations. We have some amazing workshop leaders and are looking for local schools, groups and individuals to work with to make this years festival the spookiest yet.”

Louisa Mahon, Renfrewshire Council’s head of marketing, communications and events, said: “We are proud of how our Halloween Festival has grown to become the biggest of its kind in Scotland and an event with UK-wide profile.

“But we are also proud of the way it allows the many talented community and youth groups in Renfrewshire to work with and be inspired by artists of national standing. Our local groups will love working with the talented team at Cirque Bijou and help make this year’s parade as colourful and lively a spectacle as ever.”

The full programme for this year’s festival is currently being finalised and will be announced in August – along with changes to the event site for this year.

The Halloween Festival is one of the top dates within Renfrewshire’s major events programme, which brought 160,000 attendees and a £4.7m economic impact into the area in 2018 alone.

For more information on Halloween and all local events, see www.paisley.is

Andy Campbell has received an Honorary Doctorate from University of the West of Scotland (UWS) at its Paisley graduation ceremony (Wednesday 3rd July 2019) held at Paisley Abbey.

The Paisley born businessman has a wealth of experience in business start-ups and scale-ups spanning his 20-plus year career during which time he has concluded over £25m in international contracts, secured £2m in venture capital, and been responsible for the strategic vision, creation and management of several creative IT businesses, specifically within the Video Games sector.

Presently, Andy heads up the Accelerator Division for Elevator, a social enterprise at the heart of Scotland’s entrepreneurial ecosystem which supports start-ups, scale-ups and entrepreneurs. He has been instrumental in the creation of a Centre for Entrepreneurship in both Aberdeen and Dundee, as well as the formation of a Creative Accelerator Programme in Perth, a new programme in the Highlands & Islands and the ‘Global Domination’ Accelerator aimed at internationalisation of Scotland’s digital media and Video Game Sector.

A big ambassador of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), he works tirelessly to inspire future generations of Scientists and Engineers, and also consults as European Commercial Director for the International Space School Educational Trust (ISSET). The UK registered charity uses space to inspire and motivate young people to believe they can become whatever they want to be.

Andy was instrumental in bringing the ISSET Mission Discovery programme for schools to Paisley, which UWS hosted last month. Here, school children had the chance to work with astronauts, rocket scientists and NASA leaders to design an experiment to be launched into space and carried out by Astronauts on the International Space Station. As part of this, NASA astronaut, Dr Michael Foale (CBE), the most experienced British-born astronaut in the history of human spaceflight, gave a lecture to UWS staff, students and members of the public.

Andy is also a champion of his hometown and is a Founding Trustee of the Paisley Community Trust which aims to deliver community focused economic regeneration in the town.

Commenting on his Honorary Doctorate from UWS, Andy Campbell said: “The world truly is a wonderful place, filled with beauty, intelligence and opportunity. On spaceship Earth there are no passengers, only crew. As earth hurtles through the universe, I work away each day with the simple hope of assisting my fellow crew. I hope they can discover, explore, pioneer and learn. Fulfilling their potential whilst leaving a positive legacy behind. Allowing the next generation to stand on our and their shoulders to reach even greater heights.

“It is with this principle and ethos that I do what I do. Therefore, I am both honoured and humbled to be recognised and awarded with an Honorary Doctorate from the University of the West of Scotland.”

Andy Campbell – Elevator

Professor Craig Mahoney Principal and Vice-Chancellor, UWS said: “Andy is a hugely inspiring individual with deep roots in Paisley and so it is with great pride we have presented him with an Honorary Doctorate from UWS.”

“His entrepreneurial spirit and business acumen make him an inspiring role model for our students and his efforts to champion STEM aligns closely with our own ambitions as a university.”

UWS Principal Prof Craig Mahoney

Professor Gary McEwan, CEO of Elevator, said: “Having worked with Andy for more than two decades, I couldn’t think of a more deserving individual for this title. Throughout our working relationship we have weathered a few business storms; however, Andy’s entrepreneurial mindset, ambition and drive have played an instrumental role in seeing us come out on top every time.

“Elevator prides itself on creating and nurturing an entrepreneurial society. Andy’s ethos mirrors this and I know that he will work tirelessly alongside our dedicated team to see us achieve our goals. Personally, I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate, not only a hugely respected member of our team, but an old friend too.

Andy received his Honorary Doctorate at a ceremony alongside 189 graduates of UWS’ School of Media, Culture and Society.

The Sma’ Shot celebration always takes place on the first Saturday in July – to mark the time of year when the weavers and their families would traditionally take their holidays.

This year will be no different – everyone is invited to join the annual party this Saturday 6 July from 12 noon to 5pm. And with almost 50 events taking place across 20 different venues, this year’s celebration promises to be the best yet!

Festivities will get underway at noon as the colourful parade leaves Brodie Park, heading for Paisley Arts Centre led by the tuck of the Charleston Drum. The parade this year will feature local groups, performers, spectacular floats and giant puppets, all co-ordinated by parade specialists Bridgeman Arts.

2019 will also see Sma’ Shot Day return to its roots, quite literally, by moving to the streets around the historic Sma’ Shot Cottages in Paisley’s town centre; with Shuttle Street, New Street, Witherspoon Street and Brown’s Lane all set to come alive with music, theatre, poetry, crafts and lots of family-friendly activities.

Amongst these activities there will of course be the Burning of the Cork (1.20pm within the grounds of Paisley Arts Centre) which sees the ‘Corks’ – the middlemen between the owners and the weavers – meet their fate at the hands of the working weavers in spectacular fashion. Right2Dance will deliver a short pre-Burning of the Cork performance with live music in front of Paisley Arts Centre at 1.15pm.

Plus, there will be lots of opportunities to learn a new craft at a series of artists workshops taking place all over Paisley. Follow the Creative Craft Trail for mural painting, jewellery making, embroidery and loads more.

The Sma’ Shot Cottages will also be open 12 noon til 5pm for your chance to see what life was really like for the weavers in the 19th century. Catch a guided tour and watch live weaving demonstrations with Paisley Museum’s textiles expert, Dan Coughlan. We also recommend a trip to Paisley Thread Mill Museum to complete your weaving experience on the industry’s most celebrated day of the year.

Download the Paisley.is handy event map and start planning your day!

 

One of Scotland’s best-known Gaelic singers has signed up to help promote the town’s hosting of the world’s largest celebration of Gaelic culture – the Royal National Mòd – in 2022.

Award-winning singer, dancer, journalist and TV presenter Joy Dunlop has joined the Mòd Phàislig Local Organising Committee, which is planning the nine-day festival, due to return to Paisley three years from now in October.

And Joy is already helping develop Renfrewshire’s next generation of traditional music talent – by tutoring some of the young people involved with Gaelic music group Fèis Phàislig

Fèis runs a year-round programme of activity giving young people a chance to get involved in the Gaelic arts – and will be showcasing their talents with an interactive performance called Stramash as part of the programme for Sma’ Shot Day, this coming Saturday.

Joy took a break from rehearsals with Fèis to look ahead to the Mòd 2022. The event – run by An Comunn Gàidhealach – will be in Paisley for the second time, having debuted here in 2013.

The previous event was the second-largest in Mòd history, with 8,000 people over nine days, a £1.4m economic impact for the area, and a tremendous festival atmosphere around the town.

Joy said: “I’m really looking forward to Mòd Phàislig in 2022. We had a great Mòd in Paisley last time and I’m sure we will have excellent events again.

“Paisley is a central location which will help take the event to new audiences and there is already some really great Gaelic cultural talent in the town, as I know from working with Fèis Phàislig.”

And any residents looking for a free taster of what is to come should go to The Bungalow in Shuttle Street between 2 and 5pm on Saturday to for Fèis’s first-ever Stramash event.

Some of Scotland’s top traditional musicians will join young up-and-coming talent for a bumper afternoon of music and interactive performances for all ages, with space for dancing.

The Ceilidh Trail group will perform new material ahead of their summer tour and will invite audience members to learn a Gaelic song or two and become part of the band for the afternoon.

Stramash will also return to Paisley later in the year with a free show as part of the Spree festival

Fèis Co-ordinator Grant McFarlane said: “We’re delighted to be part of this year’s Sma’ Shot Day and to bring some traditional music and Gaelic to the event.

“We’ve got a full afternoon of music planned and can’t wait to welcome everyone in for a song, dance or just to enjoy the tunes!”

Sma’ Shot Day is one of the world’s oldest workers festivals and will take place on Saturday between 12pm and 5pm, with around 50 events across 20 different venues in an all-new event site in the area around Shuttle Street, New Street and Brown’s Lane

The parade leaves Brodie Park at noon, led by the tuck of the Charleston drum and throughout the day, the streets around the historic Sma’ Shot Cottages will come alive with music, theatre, poetry, crafts and lots of family friendly activities.

All events are free to attend. More information and full bill – including parade route, road closures, and a detailed FAQ for the event, is at www.paisley.is

It’s an annual celebration which harks back to the time weavers and their families would traditionally take their holidays.

And this year, alongside all the music, dance and theatre on show, local businesses will be getting involved in Sma’ Shot weekend by opening their doors to members of the public who are keen to learn new skills.

Bars, restaurants and businesses on the stretch from Gauze Street, onto Shuttle Street and Brown’s Lane, and up to the High Street, are preparing to host bespoke creative workshops and classes from Friday 5 to Sunday 7 July.

The classes are pit stops on the Creative Craft Trail – an initiative which gives members of the public the chance to meet designers from InCube, Paisley’s creative business incubator.

The Bungalow, The Lane, Bar Pre, and Faction in Shuttle Street; The Cave in New Street; Bianco e Nero, Blend and Brew; Fairfull Café, Helen’s Haberdashery, and TaTa Bella’s Café on the High Street; and The Workshop in the Old Fire Station, will all be hosting activities across the weekend. Sma’ Shot Cottages and Paisley Abbey will also be involved.

The venues in Shuttle Street and The Cave will provide food and drink at their events.

Classes and workshops will include jewellery-making, knitting, weaving, embroidery, sewing, painting and pottery.

Textile artist Katherine Pentney (also known as The Canny Squirrel) will be running classes in free motion embroidery at Helen’s Haberdashery on the High Street on Saturday 6 July.

Katherine said: “It’s great to be involved in what’s going on creatively in Renfrewshire at the moment. People are definitely more interested in crafting now and activities that develop creative skills are really making a resurgence.

“To be hosting these workshops in Paisley, home of the famous pattern, and an area with such a rich textile history, is a fantastic opportunity and I’m really looking forward to meeting the students.”

Lynne McGrady, sales assistant at Helen’s Haberdashery, said: “The Sma’ Shot festival is a massive event for Paisley and these creative activities will help shine a spotlight on local businesses.

“It’s so important for us to raise awareness of what Paisley businesses are providing for the people of Renfrewshire, and to encourage people to buy from local entrepreneurs to keep Renfrewshire’s economy healthy.

“We’re very proud to be involved in this year’s activities and look forward to being at the centre of what’s happening on the High Street.”

The main Sma’ Shot Day party will take place on Saturday 6 July between 12pm and 5pm, with around 50 events taking place across 20 different venues.

Festivities will get underway when the parade leaves Brodie Park at noon, heading for Paisley Arts Centre, led by the tuck of the Charleston drum.

As the fun progresses, the streets around the historic Sma’ Shot Cottages in Paisley’s town centre – Shuttle Street, New Street, Witherspoon Street and Brown’s Lane – will come alive with music, theatre, poetry, crafts and lots of family friendly activities.

The biggest-ever exploration of one of Renfrewshire’s most mysterious historical features is now underway – and hopes to unveil some centuries-old secrets.

An archaeological dig has started at Paisley’s Abbey Drain – a complex underground structure which links the town’s 850-year-old Abbey to the River Cart.

The 100m long underground passageway, thought to be more than 700 years old, was unearthed in the 19th century and rediscovered in the 1990s.

The Big Dig hopes to uncover more about the passageway and to reveal more about life in Paisley hundreds of years ago.

Initial excavations of the site unearthed the earliest polyphonic musical notation and the largest collection of medieval pottery ever found in the west of Scotland – and it is hoped that this two-month long project will uncover many more secrets.

The dig is managed by Renfrewshire Council, run by Guard Archaeology with help from Renfrewshire Local History Forum volunteers, and supported by funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund and Historic Environment Scotland.

Council leader Iain Nicolson joined the team at the start of the dig.  Cllr Nicolson said: “Paisley has such a rich history and heritage, full of stories and mysteries, and the tale of the Abbey Drain has really captured the attention of the public.

“This is a project that’s of both local and national significance. It has really struck a chord with people who live here who have a genuine interest in Renfrewshire’s social and economic history and will provide us with information on a complex underground system which was operating hundreds of years ago.

“This could be the first step towards opening up the Drain as a permanent visitor attraction in the future – which would fit perfectly with the ongoing work to use Paisley’s unique heritage to make it one of Scotland’s key destinations for visitors and events.”

Bob Will, compliance manager at Guard Archaeology, said: “This is such an exciting project for us and for the community, and we’re pleased to be progressing with the next stage.

“Most of the work on the drain so far has been carried out from the inside and has told us a lot about the drain itself.

“What’s going on underneath the surface can also tell us about what once stood on the site, so by excavating the drain, we can find out about the drainage system which served what would have once been a bustling community.

“We’re looking forward to continuing the excavations and to finding out what else the Abbey Drain can tell us about life in Paisley hundreds of years ago.”

The Big Dig also includes an extensive programme of activity to involve the local community.

Students at the University of the West of Scotland will create a series of short films and a documentary on the drain, and there will also be school visits, volunteering opportunities, and free talks and workshops for the public.

Members of the public will not have access to the drain during the Big Dig – but there will be a chance for residents and visitors to go inside it, as in previous years, during the Doors Open Days weekend on 7 and 8 September.

To keep an eye on Big Dig progress, visit www.paisley.is

Visitors will be able to learn valuable cooking tips from the professionals to reduce waste and help protect the environment at this year’s Paisley Food and Drink Festival.

The festival, which is one of Scotland’s largest outdoor food and drink events, will host a range of cookery demonstrations with celebrity chefs in collaboration with Zero Waste Scotland’s Love Food Hate Waste campaign, on Saturday 27 April.

Love Food Hate Waste aims to raise awareness of how doing easy, practical things in the home can reduce food waste, save money and benefit the environment.

Top chefs, including Gary Maclean, winner of MasterChef – The Professionals 2016, Matt Pritchard, star of hit MTV series Dirty Sanchez and BBC TV’s Dirty Vegan, and baking sensations Three Sisters Bake will teach their tricks of the trade and show how making small changes in the kitchen can have a big impact.

Love Food Hate Waste will be on hand to provide advice at the festival to help prevent good food ending up in the bin.

Ylva Haglund, Food Waste Campaigns Manager, Zero Waste Scotland, said: “A massive £1 billion worth of food is binned from our homes in Scotland every year. Most of this is good food that could have been eaten and enjoyed had it been used up in time. Food waste also contributes more to Scotland’s carbon emissions than any other type of waste.

“To make it easier for people at home to tackle this, we’ve teamed up with leading chefs at this year’s Paisley Food and Drink Festival, who will share tips and tricks to show just how simple it can be to save food from the bin.”

Ahead of the Festival, Love Food Hate Waste will also work with local community groups, including The Tannahill Centre, ROAR: Connections for Life, Erskine Music and Media Studios, Our Places Our Families and Active Communities, to host a selection of free to attend workshops across Renfrewshire.

The daily two-hour Love Food Hate Waste workshops aim to provide further advice on how to reduce food waste at home and will take place with the following groups:

  • Young Mums – The Tannahill Centre – Monday 22 April – 10am – 12pm
  • Older Adults – ROAR: Connections for Life – Tuesday 23 April – 2pm – 4pm
  • Erskine Community Hub – Erskine Music and Media Studios – Wednesday 24 April – 3pm – 5pm
  • Our Places Our Families – Our Places Our Families – Thursday 25 April – 1pm – 3pm
  • Feel Good Project – Active Communities – Friday 26 April – 10am – 12pm

Ms Haglund added: “Our popular Love Food Hate Waste training sessions are delivered to many community groups, businesses and local authorities across Scotland every year.

“They are fun, free, interactive sessions which will provide those attending with practical knowledge around the simple things we can all do to stop wasting food at home and save money in the process.”

Apple Oils Ltd will also be collecting waste cooking oil from participating traders at this year’s Paisley Food and Drink Festival, which will then be transformed into sustainable biodiesel.

The Glasgow-based company will filter the cooking oil and use a chemical process to turn it into biodiesel which can be used to fuel vehicle engines.

Alexander Macdonald of Apple Oils Ltd said: “We are delighted to be participating with Paisley Food and Drink Festival and support any actions that reduce waste and help save our environment. We collect waste cooking oil from all over Scotland and sell new to a selection of our customers.”

Paisley Food and Drink Festival takes place over two days on Friday 26 and Saturday 27 April and will see more than 40 vendors from across Scotland in the stunning surroundings of the town’s Abbey Close.

This year’s line-up will also feature delicious street food with traders from PLATFORM on Tour – the independent street food market who reside at Glasgow’s Argyle Street Arches, expert tasting sessions with the award-winning Gin71, the popular Rum Shack and the Renfrewshire CAMRA Beer Tent.

There will also be live music and entertainment on the Main Stage, sponsored by Paisley’s famous The Bungalow music venue, including Sprog Rock, Princesses of Pop and Esperanza – perfect for adults and kids alike.

Smaller portion sizes will be available for children and there’s something for all foodies with a range of good canned chilli, halal, gluten free, veggie and vegan options also on offer.

Find out more about what’s on at the Paisley Food and Drink Festival 2019, visit https://paisley.is/featured_event/paisley-food-and-drink-festival/

A team of intrepid experts will go underground to solve a centuries-old mystery this summer during the biggest exploration yet of Paisley’s unique medieval Abbey Drain.

The intricate underground structure is believed to have carried material from Paisley’s 850-year-old Abbey to the nearby River Cart – but no one has ever established where and how it met the river.

Now, a team of archaeologists will excavate an area next to Abbey Close to try to answer that – with the hope their findings could help the drain become a bigger visitor attraction in future.

The two-month project (running from May until July) is being managed by Renfrewshire Council and includes an extensive programme of activity to involve the local community.

The dig is being run by Guard Archaeology with volunteers from Renfrewshire Local History Forum, supported by funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund and Historic Environment Scotland.

Paisley’s Abbey Drain is an ornate underground passageway, around 100m long and believed to be more than 700 years old, which was discovered in the 19thcentury and rediscovered in the 1990s.

Previous archaeological digs have revealed carved slates featuring the earliest written polyphonic music – and largest collection of medieval pottery – ever found in Scotland.

Community activity planned for during the Big Dig will include a series of short films and a documentary made by students from the University of the West of Scotland, school visits, volunteering opportunities, and free talks and workshops for the general public.

The drain itself won’t be accessible to the public during the dig – but there will be a chance for residents and visitors to go inside it, as in previous years, during Doors Open Day in September.

Renfrewshire Council leader Iain Nicolson said: “Paisley’s Abbey Drain is a hidden treasure and people are rightly fascinated by it – so we are delighted to be able to run a project which will engage the community and bring the stories of the Abbey Drain to life for residents and visitors.

“The team behind the Big Dig hope to solve some of the unanswered questions around it and that may lead to further exploration or even a more permanent visitor attraction in future.

“If so, that would be a perfect fit for the wider push to use Paisley’s rich heritage and culture to bring new footfall to the town and build on our growing reputation as one of Scotland’s top visitor destinations.”

Riona McMorrow, Acting Head of The National Lottery Heritage Fund in Scotland, said: “It’s incredibly exciting to think that the Big Dig might uncover the long held mysteries of Paisley’s Abbey Drain.

“It is thanks to National Lottery players that we have been able to help fund this innovative programme of activities which will nurture and build the community groups interested in improving Paisley through their heritage.”

Caroline Clark, Acting Head of Grants at Historic Environment Scotland (HES), said: “We’re delighted to have contributed funding to support the Paisley Abbey Drain Big Dig through our Historic Environment Support Fund.

“This is a fantastic project that will not only explore the hidden history of Paisley Abbey and help enhance our understanding of this fascinating site, but also provide an opportunity for the local community to get involved in archaeology and engage with the rich heritage on their doorstep.”

You will be able to keep up to date with the Big Dig and see the full programme of activity via www.paisley.is

There’s plenty of fun on the menu for kids at this year’s Paisley Food and Drink Festival with a range of hands-on foodie experiences and amazing live entertainment.

Free cooking workshops will take place at the Festival on Saturday 27 April in Paisley’s Abbey Close where youngsters can learn how to make their own pizza with Glasgow’s Tennent’s Training Academy or create delicious chocolate treats with Ayrshire’s Limetree Larder.

Families can grab a seat in the stunning surroundings of Abbey Gardens to enjoy top music and entertainment all day on the Main Stage.

Pulse FM will host the free fun from 12 noon until 9pm, including kids’ favourites Sprog Rock, who’ll be performing two interactive rocking gigs specially created for young children.

Sprog Rock have toured across Scotland, creating innovative music and shows for children and adults to get involved and enjoy together.

Katy Wilson, lead singer of Sprog Rock, said: “We love Paisley and we can’t wait to come back and play here again – it’s going to be wild.

“We’re also so excited to have the fantastic Bigg Taj beatboxing with us at Paisley Food and Drink Festival too, so come along and join the fun!”

Also taking to the Main Stage are the fabulous Princesses of Pop, who will pay tribute to the music of Ariana Grande, Little Mix and Steps.

There will be a host of live performances from local bands throughout the day, programmed by Paisley’s famous gig venue, The Bungalow.

Families will be able to dance the day away with top acts, including singing duo Mandulu & Hephzibah and classic rock covers from Audiorayz, before ska sensations Esperanza take the party well into the evening.

Mia Farrell, booking manager at The Bungalow, said: “We are delighted to be working with Renfrewshire Council on this year’s Paisley Food and Drink Festival and we hope everyone will enjoy the acts programmed for the Main Stage.

“We have made it a family, feel-good show with a little something extra for the adults later in the evening. We hope everyone has a wonderful time at the Festival and wish all the performers involved the absolute best of luck on the day.”

Children’s entertainer Captain James Tea Cook, vegan pirate of the Carob Bean, will also be at the event to entertain youngsters and adults alike with his unique bundle of food, science, craft and games workshops.

There are even more fun activities to enjoy at the Paisley Food and Drink Festival such as gardening workshops with Renfrewshire Growing Grounds Forum – suitable for all ages with help from a grown-up – face painting in Abbey Close and the PLATFORM on Tour tee-pee tents.

A Sensory Safe Space will also be available in the Lesser Hall of Paisley Methodist Central Hall from 12 noon to 5:15pm. This will be a quiet space specially created for individuals with additional support needs and their carers and will feature arts and crafts, musical instruments and lighting, gentle music and soft seating. Space is limited in this room, so please book a place in advance.

Paisley Food and Drink Festival is one of Scotland’s largest outdoor food and drink festivals and takes place over two days on Friday 26 and Saturday 27 April.

This year’s line-up will see more than 40 vendors from across Scotland, delicious street food with traders from PLATFORM on Tour – the independent street food market who reside in Glasgow’s Argyle Street Arches, expert tasting sessions with the award-winning Gin 71, the Renfrewshire CAMRA Beer Tent and more in the stunning surroundings of Paisley’s historic Abbey.

Smaller portion sizes will be available for children and there’s something for all foodies with a range of halal, gluten free, veggie and vegan options also on offer.

With visitors able to enjoy the popular Rum Shack, festival favourites Babu Bombay Street Kitchen, Scozzese woodfired pizza, the unique Fizzbuz prosecco van and more, it’s set to be a fantastic two-day festival of fun.

The children’s workshops are free to attend but numbers are limited so interested parties are encouraged to book in advance to avoid disappointment. To find out more and book a place please visit: https://paisley.is/visit/kids-workshops/

The award-winning Gin71 bar is coming to the Paisley Food and Drink Festival 2019 to give visitors the chance to enjoy a perfect serve of top artisan gins.

The popular Glasgow-based bar chain returns to the Festival, which takes place over two days on Friday 26 and Saturday 27 April, after hosting popular gin tasting sessions at last year’s event.

Paisley Food and Drink Festival 2019 will see more than 40 top food and drink traders from across Scotland, a demonstration kitchen with celebrity chefs, a Renfrewshire CAMRA Beer Tent and live entertainment in the stunning surroundings of Paisley’s historic Abbey.

Gin71 will run two dedicated gin tasting sessions on Friday 26 April, with 60 places available for each session and expert staff on hand to showcase the very best Scottish craft gins.

Attendees will be able to enjoy a range of spirits served neat, with ice, and with a perfectly matched garnish and mixer, making it the perfect night out for gin lovers or those looking to try something new.

On Saturday 27 April, the bar will have its very own gin palace tent with a wide range of craft gins to sample.

Gin71 will also be hosting a number of gin distillers to run ‘Meet The Maker’ events. These events will offer visitors the chance to chat to the people who create their favourite spirits and enjoy a complimentary sampling of their gins.

Managing Director of Gin71, Paul Reynolds, said: “We can’t wait to bring Gin71 back to this year’s Paisley Food and Drink Festival and give visitors the chance to enjoy our range of fantastic craft gins.

“Our evening tasting sessions and Festival gin bar were extremely popular with attendees at last year’s event and our expert bar staff will be in attendance once again to help people choose the perfect gin.

“Gin is continuing to be a really popular choice and, whether you’re a gin enthusiast or just looking to expand your horizons by trying something new, we look forward to seeing you at Paisley Food and Drink Festival this April.”

Paisley Food and Drink Festival is one of Scotland’s largest outdoor food and drink festivals. This year’s line-up will also see delicious street food with traders from PLATFORM on Tour – the independent street food market who reside in Glasgow’s Argyle Street Arches, the popular Rum Shack, live music and entertainment programmed by Paisley’s famous The Bungalow music venue, children’s workshops, picnic areas and much more.

Demand for places at the Gin71 tasting sessions is expected to be high, so interested parties are encouraged to book early to avoid disappointment. Tickets for the tasting sessions are £25 per person which covers samples of six of the finest artisan gins, a history of Scottish gin and in-depth information on each spirit featured with Gin71’s expert team.

To find out more or to book your place, please visit: www.gin71.com/paisley