Mill girls

Paisley Thread Queens

Local artists Gillian Steel and Kevin Cameron along with pupils of Mary Russell School in Paisley are undertaking a project for Paisley Townscape Heritage and Conservation Area Regeneration Scheme (Paisley TH.CARS2).

Mill girls

The Thread Queens Project will involve the pupils exploring the histories and personal stories of the thread mill girls in Paisley. We are looking for women who used to work in the mills to assist the young people in their research by doing interviews about their experiences and would really appreciate anyone who can help us. If you think you can please get in touch with Gillian at gilliansteel@hotmail.com. Look forward to hearing from you!

Paisley Museum

Plans to completely transform Paisley Museum into a world-class visitor destination telling the town’s unique stories including that of the globally admired, Paisley pattern, have taken a major step forward as The National Lottery Heritage Fund today announced £3.83million support for the project.

Paisley Museum

The four buildings which make up Scotland’s first municipal museum, including the country’s first public observatory, will be ambitiously re-designed and extended by an award-winning international team, including  the architects AL_A and exhibition designers Opera Amsterdam, to create an exciting new experience for visitors.

Paisley Museum

The new, contemporary galleries and exhibitions will double the number of objects on display and be fully accessible so that visitors can explore the town’s rich heritage and its part in the story of the famous teardrop Paisley pattern textile, from the shawls of Kashmir to the haute couture of rock stars. Inspiring learning zones, improved social spaces, a new cafe, shop and cloakroom facilities will add to the Museum’s appeal, as will a new, welcoming entrance surrounded by a courtyard and gardens.

Paisley Museum

The revamped museum is forecast to attract 125,000 visits a year, almost four times the current numbers, and create a £79m economic boost over 30 years. It is the cornerstone of Renfrewshire Council’s vision to bring new life to the town through investment in heritage and culture. This has included the opening of the UK’s first publicly accessible high street museum store, Paisley: The Secret Collection,  and the conservation and repair of key buildings which make up the town’s historic core through a scheme funded with £2m from the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Commenting on today’s announcement, Caroline Clark, Director Scotland of The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said:

“This project has been driven by the passion of the Paisley community to put their unique heritage on an international stage. With the help of National Lottery funding, new life will be breathed into these heritage buildings giving Paisley’s wonderful textiles and other treasures the prominence they deserve, while also bringing a new confidence to the town.”

Councillor Lisa-Marie Hughes, Chair of Renfrewshire Leisure Ltd, said: “We want to thank everyone connected to the National Lottery Heritage Fund for their fantastic support.

“It will help us deliver a world-class museum which will take the town’s unique and fascinating stories to new audiences, showcase Paisley’s internationally-significant collections, and bring new life and footfall to the wider area.

“It will create a new accessible hub at the heart of life in the town for the local community – local groups are already co-producing the incredible stories which will populate the reopened museum, and we look forward to continuing to work with The National Lottery Heritage Fund and others over the years ahead to deliver on that.”

The new museum is expected to open in 2022.

SOBS Memorial tree

Renfrewshire’s annual memorial service to commemorate those who have lost their lives to suicide will be held in Paisley later this month.

A short service will take place on Thursday 23 January at Renfrewshire House, hosted by support group Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide (SOBS).

SOBS Memorial tree

SOBS Memorial tree 25.1.18

The service is open to all and anyone who has been affected by suicide is invited to meet in the Marriage Suite from 3:10pm to collect a commemorative purple heart on which they can write a message to a loved one, if desired.

At 3:30pm there will be a short set of readings followed by a procession to the memorial tree where Renfrewshire’s Provost Lorraine Cameron will light the tree.

After the service, all those in attendance are invited to join the Provost, the local SOBS support group and the Choose Life team for light refreshments in Paisley Abbey.

The memorial tree was first dedicated in 2010 as a permanent memorial to those who have died through suicide and is believed to have been the first of its kind in Scotland.

SOBS Memorial tree

SOBS Memorial tree 25.1.18

The service aims to provide an opportunity to remember those who have been lost while providing an arm of support to the survivors. It is an opportunity to connect with others who have faced similar situations.

Provost Cameron, who helped establish the tree, said: “Over the past ten years this service has become extremely important to members of the local community and I’m honoured to be involved.

“Suicide is still very much a taboo subject, but the Choose Life and SOBS team will be available after the service to provide any support you, or a friend or family member, may need, and I would encourage anyone who has been affected by suicide in any manner to come along.

“If you’re unable to make it along, please get in touch with the team to talk about how you are feeling or what support you need. Someone is always there to listen.”

Anyone unable to attend the service who wishes a message to be placed onto the tree can get in touch in advance or can visit the council reception at any time following the service to collect a commemorative heart.

If you are feeling suicidal, or you know someone that might be then please call one of the helpline numbers: Samaritan’s 116 123, Breathing Space 0800 83 85 87, RAMH First Crisis 0141 849 90 90 or 0500 829 093

For more information contact the Choose Life Team on 0141 849 2200 or visit www.renfrewshire.gov.uk/sobs.

Entrance to Glen Cinema

“I remember I didn’t want to go that day,” said Emily Brown (95) – one of hundreds of children who attended Paisley’s Glen Cinema 90 years ago today for a packed matinee performance that ended in tragedy – forever remembered by survivors as Paisley’s ‘Black Hogmanay’.

Entrance to Glen Cinema

The Glen Cinema tragedy took place on 31 December 1929 when a smoking film canister caused a panic during a packed children’s matinee where more than 600 children were present. The main exit doors had a metal gate that had been pulled shut stopping it from opening leading to a crush where 71 children died, and more than 30 children were injured.

Survivors Robert Pope and Emily Brown at 90th anniversary service 7 Dec

Robert Pope (97), had got up that morning and asked his mother for some jars to exchange for money so he could go to the pictures with seven of his friends.

Like so many children at the time, Robert and Emily were sent out the house to the cinema on Hogmanay to allow their parents to get the house cleaned and ready for the new year. They took their seats in the crowded theatre, sang their song and settled down to watch the new cowboy movie Dude Desperado.

During the picture a film cannister was placed on a heated surface and started to smoke up – leading to the panic and stampede which followed.

Boys Brigade march past picture house at funeral

“I was there with my older sister Jean (10) and younger sister May (3) – we heard someone shout ‘fire’ and started to head for the exit. There was screaming and shouting, and people were pushing and trampling you and you were trampling on others trying to get out.”

“I remember some people jumped over the balcony or onto the stage to try to get out. I was separated from my sisters in the panic – I remember someone smashed a window and a fireman helped get me out.”

Emily’s aunt later found her wandering down Glasgow Road and took her home to her mother in Hunter Street. Her sisters Jean and May were already there and had managed to stay together during the chaos.

“I think my mother gave us all an extra cuddle that night,” said Emily.

“I don’t remember much about it,” said Robert. “I think my guardian angel watched out for me that day.

“When the panic started, I just remember something came over me and I stayed in my seat and didn’t move. I don’t remember much else until later when a fireman was clearing the hall, he asked me what I was doing. I told him I was waiting for the picture to come back on and he told me to head home to my mother and that the film wouldn’t be coming back on.

“My friends saw that I never came out and had told my mother I was still there, and she was getting ready to go up to the hospital to try and find me. As she opened the door, I was walking up the stairs and I remember the look of relief on her face. I think that saved her from the traumatic experience of seeing the children who had been killed and injured in the cinema at the hospital.”

Robert’s friend, William Spiers, who had sat beside him and fled during the panic did not survive the crush that day.

When news of the disaster spread through the town the entire community went to the Glen Cinema to try and help get the children out. Emily’s mother was one of those who pulled children from the cinema and loaded the injured onto trams for the hospital – not knowing if her children were safe or injured or worse. Emily’s mother was the only resident from Hunter Street who didn’t lose someone that day.

The funerals of all 71 children took place in early January of 1930. The town came to a standstill to pay their respects to those who died – everyone turned out including the hospital staff who treated victims and survivors and the Boys Brigade – who walked in the funeral procession. The children were laid to rest in Hawkhead Cemetery where a memorial still stands to remember all the victims of the Glen Cinema disaster.

News of the disaster was far-reaching with letters of condolence being sent to the town from people across the globe. The impacts were global as well – as the Cinematograph Act 1909 was then amended to ensure all cinemas had more exits, that doors opened outwards and were fitted with push bars. A limitation was also placed on the capacity of cinemas and a requirement for an appropriate number of adult attendants to be present to ensure the safety of children.

The Glen Cinema survivors and their families continue to commemorate the disaster every Hogmanay alongside members of the local community. They gather at 11am at the Cenotaph in Paisley town centre where they lay a wreath for those who lost their lives that day.

The Glen Cinema disaster of 1929 is considered one of Scotland’s worst human tragedies.

Photo 1. Glen Cinema commemoration 7.12.19

The people of Paisley paid tribute to one of its most tragic events on Saturday as hundreds of people attended a special commemoration event to mark the 90th anniversary of the Glen Cinema disaster.

Photo 2. Glen Cinema commemoration 7.12.19

 

More than 150 people took part in a lantern procession through the town, made up of young people, community groups and schools, before attending a special service at Paisley Abbey where 500 invited guests paid tribute to the victims, survivors and their families.

Survivors Robert Pope and Emily Brown were in attendance along with their families.

There were many poignant moments during the service including a solo cello performance of ‘Vocalise’ by Rachmaninoff which played as 70 children walked up the aisle and each laid a white rose for the children who lost their lives. Survivors Robert and Emily also laid a white rose; guests spent a minute of silence in contemplation of the tragic events; and the Starlight Chamber Choir closed the evening with a moving rendition of ‘Coming to the Glen’.

Singer-songwriter Carol Laula performed ‘Hush Now, Happy New Year’ – a song, written with actor and musician Tom Urie, specially commissioned for the 90th commemoration.

Carol said: “It was an honour to be part of such a special event – this is a really difficult part of Paisley’s rich history, but a part that must be commemorated nonetheless. The courage and sense of community that endured after this awful tragedy is one that we must continue to build and to celebrate. I believe the most conducive way to grow is to seek out the strength in our past and this tradition is one I find very nourishing.”

Liam Kay, 14, of Linwood High School, has been a member of Starlight Youth Theatre for three years and performed a monologue, ‘Getting Ready for the New Year’.

Liam said: “It was a beautiful event. It’s such a tragic thing that happened, but it is important to remember those who died and also those who survived, and it was done in a beautiful way.”

The Glen Cinema tragedy took place on 31 December 1929 when a smoking film canister caused a panic during a packed children’s matinee where more than 600 children were present. As a result of the crush that followed 70 children died and more than 30 children were injured.

News of the disaster was far-reaching with letters of condolence being sent to the town from people across the globe. The impacts were global as well – as the Cinematograph Act 1909 was then amended to ensure all cinemas had more exits, that doors opened outwards and were fitted with push bars. A limitation was also placed on the capacity of cinemas and a requirement for an appropriate number of adult attendants to ensure safety of children.

Louisa Mahon, Head of Marketing, Communications and Events at Renfrewshire Council, said: “The commemoration event allowed the people of Paisley to pay tribute and remember all the victims and survivors of the tragedy.

“In this, the 90th anniversary – it’s even more important to take stock of the tragic events which took place and consider the local and global impacts of the disaster.”

During the day on Saturday people were also able to view a specially commissioned commemorative film ‘The Glen Cinema Disaster’ directed by Paul Mothersole at POP Community & Arts Space in the Piazza. A small exhibition of printed letters held in the Secret Collection were also on display in the space during the day for the public to see – the exhibition will remain in the venue until the 20 December.

The annual memorial service and wreath laying will take place at Paisley Cenotaph on the morning of 31 December. This is run by community members and supported by Renfrewshire Council.

The Glen Cinema 90th anniversary commemoration event was funded through Renfrewshire Council’s Future Paisley programme.

cenotaph

The Paisley Development Trust would like you to participate in our annual remembrance of the victims of the Glen Cinema Disaster in 1929.

cenotaph

We meet at the Cenotaph at 10.30am on the 31st December and support the few survivors that are left and their families during the short ceremony and afterwards join them in a cup of tea in Burger and Keg in Gilmour street.

We would be delighted if you were able to attend.

Paisley Abbey

To mark the 90th anniversary of the Glen Cinema disaster a commemoration event is to take place in Paisley town centre on Saturday 7 December.

The event will begin with a lantern procession involving more than 150 young people from community groups and schools at 5.15pm, starting at Dunn Square, and journeying up St Mirren Brae, towards Abbey Close. Following the procession, a service at Paisley Abbey will see a number of local performers, and community groups pay tribute to the victims, survivors and their families.

Paisley Abbey

A number of invited guests will attend the service including survivors Robert Pope and Emily Brown along with their families.

The Glen Cinema tragedy took place on 31 December 1929 when a smoking film canister caused a panic during a packed children’s matinee where more than 600 children were present. As a result of the crush that followed more than 30 children were injured and 70 children died.

News of the disaster was far-reaching with letters of condolence being sent to the town from people across the globe. The impacts were also global – the Cinematograph Act 1909 was then amended to ensure all cinemas had more exits, that doors opened outwards and were fitted with push bars. A limitation was also placed on the capacity of cinemas and a requirement for a sufficient number of adult attendants to ensure safety of children.

In addition to the procession and service a commemorative film ‘The Glen Cinema Disaster’ directed by Paul Mothersole has been commissioned with ticketed, free screenings taking place on Saturday 7 December between 1pm and 4.15pm at POP Community & Arts Space in The Piazza Shopping Centre. A small exhibition of printed letters held in the Secret Collection will also be on display in POP from 7 – 20 December.

Louisa Mahon, Head of Marketing, Communications and Events at Renfrewshire Council, said: “The Glen Cinema disaster is a real tragic point in Paisley’s history with deeply traumatic consequences for so many families.

“The 90th anniversary gives us the opportunity to raise awareness of the disaster and reflect on what took place by paying tribute to and remembering the victims, survivors and their families.”

Members of the public who wish to pay their respects are encouraged to attend the lantern procession as there are only a limited number of tickets available for the Paisley Abbey service on a first come first served basis from InCube Shop, 9B Gilmour Street. Those who would like to participate in the procession can sign up to attend a Lantern Making workshop taking place on Saturday 30 November in POP, Piazza from 10am – 4pm – please be aware there are limited spaces available for this workshop.

Also, as part of the 90th anniversary commemorations an artist will be commissioned to create a public piece of art, in collaboration with the local community to commemorate and raise awareness of the disaster.

The event taking place on 7 December is in addition to the annual memorial service and wreath laying which takes place at Paisley Cenotaph on the morning of 31 December, which is run by community members and supported by Renfrewshire Council.

The Glen Cinema 90th anniversary commemoration event is funded by Renfrewshire Leisure and Renfrewshire Council through Renfrewshire Council’s Future Paisley programme.

To book a place at the lantern making workshop please visit: https://glencinemalanternworkshop.eventbrite.co.uk

To secure a ticket for The Glen Cinema Disaster film screening please visit: https://glencinemadisasterfilm.eventbrite.co.uk

A limited number of free tickets will be available to the public for the commemorative service at Paisley Abbey on a first come first served basis from InCube Shop, Paisley Office, 9B Gilmour St, Paisley PA1 1DG from Friday 22 November. The shop is open from 11am – 5pm Tuesday – Saturday.

Veterans at the Cenotaph in Paisley

Hundreds are expected to turn out to pay their respects to the fallen as parades are carried out in towns and villages across Renfrewshire, with services taking place to mark Remembrance Day.

A weekend of remembrance will begin on Friday 8 November as the annual Children’s Remembrance Service takes place at Mossvale and St James Primary in Paisley at 10.30am.

Veterans at the Cenotaph in Paisley

Veterans from the Royal British Legion will visit the school to see a presentation from the pupils on what they’ve learned about Remembrance Day, before speaking about their experiences of having served in Armed Forces.

Veterans marching in Paisley

On 10 November, parades will then take place from 10am to mark Remembrance Sunday, with a two minutes silence at 11am, and all are invited to attend at the following locations:

Start                Finish (Approx)

Houston                       10.00am          10.30am

Kilbarchan                   10.00am          10.30am

Renfrew                      10.45am          11.15am

Paisley                        10.45am          11.30am

Lochwinnoch               10.45am          11.15am

Howwood                    12.15pm          12.45pm

Johnstone                   12.30pm          1.00pm

Elderslie                      2.30pm            3.00pm

Bridge of Weir             3.00pm            3.30pm

Renfrewshire’s Provost Lorraine Cameron said: “Every year at this time we stop to remember those we have lost, and I would encourage all who are able to attend to come to one of the services taking place across Renfrewshire.

“It’s so important that we pay our respects to those who have given the ultimate sacrifice and I look forward to the community once again coming together to show their gratitude for all that have gone before us.

“Through our Children’s Remembrance Service, we will work closely with our veterans to educate our young people and show exactly why we mark Remembrance Sunday each and every year.”

For more information, visit: www.renfrewshire.gov.uk/RemembranceServices2019.

Open Doors at Renfrewshire. 8.9.18

Venues all over Renfrewshire are preparing to throw open their doors and invite people to delve deeper into their history.

Doors Open Days – Scotland’s largest free festival that celebrates heritage and the built environment, old and new – takes place this weekend, Saturday 7 and Sunday 8 September.

Open Doors at Renfrewshire. 8.9.18

More than 50 buildings across Renfrewshire – many of which do not normally allow access to what’s going on behind the scenes – will welcome people of all ages, and share interesting stories on Renfrewshire’s history and heritage.

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

New venues introduced across Renfrewshire this year include – Brediland Allotments, Grow in Glenburn, Fountain Gardens, PACE, Paisley Florist Society Gardening Club, Renfrewshire Witch Hunt Experience, Wellmeadow Bowling Club, Renfrew Association of Growers & Gardeners, Renfrew Police office, Renfrew North Parish Church and Johnstone Credit Union.

A group of intrepid individuals will also be going underground on a tour of Paisley’s medieval Abbey Drain. Places on this year’s tour were decided by a ballot.

This year marks the 30th anniversary of Doors Open Day nationally, with more than 1000 buildings set to open across the country.

Open Doors at Renfrewshire. 8.9.18

Renfrewshire Provost Lorraine Cameron will be visiting a few of the venues on Saturday.

Provost Cameron said: “Doors Open Days is a weekend full of learning and fun and it’s always great to see people of all ages taking part.

“To have more than 50 venues signed up to take part this year is fantastic, and I’m looking forward to hearing interesting stories about our history and heritage that will inform our future.

“Major events like this are great for the local economy as they get people out and about and spending money locally. I hope that people of all ages take time out this weekend to get involved.”

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

Visitors are being encouraged to share their Doors Open Days photos on social media using  #DODSCOT

A full list of venues can be viewed online at https://paisley.is/featured_event/renfrewshire-doors-open-days/

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

paisley museum

The first images showing how Paisley Museum will become a world-class destination telling the town’s globally-significant stories and bringing huge volumes of new footfall to the town centre are today revealed.

The museum is undergoing a £42m transformation into a leading European museum telling the stories of Paisley’s people and Pattern, and home to its internationally-significant collections.

paisley museum

When it reopens in 2022, the reimagined museum is expected to draw audiences from Scotland, the UK and abroad – almost quadrupling visitor numbers to 125,000 a year.

And today sees the first reveal of images, showing how international architects AL_A – led by Stirling Prize winner Amanda Levete – plan to restore and reinvigorate the museum, including:

– fully accessible entrance courtyard and a dramatic red glazed entrance hall, creating a dynamic and inviting presence on the High Street and a contemporary face for the museum;

– a new wing to the west of the existing building providing step-free access through the museum up to the Coats Observatory (the oldest public observatory in Scotland), containing learning spaces and with views onto the new museum garden;

– an attractive outdoor garden, creating a new public space for the town, and opening up previously-hidden views of the observatory while reconnecting it and the museum to the town’s High Street;

– internal renovations will improve accessibility and circulation, deliver international environmental standards for gallery spaces, and allow the museum to more than double the number of objects on display to 1,200;

– an interactive weaving studio keeping alive the town’s traditional textile skills;

paisley museum

The renovated museum and library buildings will be in conversation with the new. Together they create a cohesive museum campus and a visitor experience of international quality.

The project is expected to create a £79m boost for the local economy over 30 years, with 138 jobs supported during construction, and 48.5 jobs per year through revenue and visitor spending.

Cllr Lisa-Marie Hughes, chair of Renfrewshire Leisure, said: “The transformation of Paisley Museum will create a world-class destination right here in the heart of the town, delivering huge volumes of new footfall to our High Street, and boosting local traders.

paisley museum

“The work is part of a wider investment by the council in Paisley’s venues to transform the town centre, and take the work already making us a key destination within Scotland for culture and events to a new level.

“Paisley is a town whose people and pattern influenced the world – the revamped museum will use our unique – and in some cases untold – stories to put Paisley back on the map.

“The project team have already worked with hundreds of local people and groups to capture their stories. And we will be working closely with neighbours and surrounding businesses to make sure they are involved throughout construction and ready to benefit from the massive boost this will bring.”

paisley museum

Amanda Levete, principal of AL_A, said: “The brief for Paisley Museum is one of the most radical I’ve encountered. Paisley has a proud industrial past and a history of innovation and radical thinking. We have embedded this into our design to create an extraordinary place for the community of Paisley.”

Professor John Hume OBE, former Chair of the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historic Monuments Scotland, said: “I am thoroughly impressed by the thoughtful and sensitive approach of the architects to a remarkable group of buildings in a critical location for this unique place.

“At a time when there is a real risk of erosion of cultural experience, such interventions are of the utmost importance, and it is fitting Paisley should be at the forefront of what will be not just regeneration but also in the best sense, renaissance.”

The Paisley Museum Reimagined project includes Round One funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund and the Scottish Government’s Regeneration Capital Grant Fund.

Paisley Museum was opened in 1871, designed by renowned Glasgow architect Sir John Honeyman. The building was gifted to the town by Sir Peter Coats of the Coats family, whose Paisley-based thread-making empire stretched around the world.

Renfrewshire’s collections are among the best in Scotland and include the world’s largest collection of Paisley shawls and pattern books, artwork from the world-renowned Glasgow Boys, one of Scotland’s best collections of studio ceramics, and a unique offering of mediaeval manuscripts dating back to before the Reformation.

The project is being co-designed in partnership with the community – the project team have already worked with hundreds of local people and groups to capture and help tell their stories.

The museum transformation is the flagship project within Renfrewshire Council’s £100m investment in venues and outdoor spaces aimed at using Paisley’s unique and internationally-significant cultural and heritage story to transform the area’s future.

The programme includes turning Paisley Town Hall into a landmark entertainment venue to preserve its place at the heart of life in the town, and finding new cultural uses for former retail units – including a new learning and cultural hub offering library services at the heart of the town’s High St.

Paisley’s collections remain available to the public while the work is happening – at Paisley: The Secret Collection, the only publicly-accessible museum store on a UK high street.