Ope Doors at Renfrewshire. 8.9.18

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.

Ope Doors at Renfrewshire. 8.9.18

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.

Ope Doors at Renfrewshire. 8.9.18

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.

Ope Doors at Renfrewshire. 8.9.18

“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

Fair Trade tartan in NY Tartan Parade

A historic dye vat, once used in Paisley’s famous Coats mills, is being gifted to fair trade thread maker Villageworks who create products using the Coats thread, as well as producing the world’s first fair trade tartan.

A piece of Paisley’s illustrious thread making past is set to transform production for a fair trade organisation in Cambodia.

Clarke Wallace, wearing fair trade tartan, with the historic dye vat (2)

The historic dye vat, once used in Paisley’s famous Coats mills, is being gifted to fair trade thread maker Villageworks, who create products using the Coats thread, as well as producing the world’s first fair trade tartan.

The artefact has been an exhibit at Paisley Thread Mill Museum since the closure of the Coats mill in Newton Mearns when it was gifted to the museum to protect its history.

On a visit to Renfrewshire to mark World Fair Trade Day last year, fair trade producer Noum Bunnak, also known as Anak, visited Paisley Thread Mill Museum to celebrate her links using Paisley’s famous Coats Thread in her products.

The dye vat exhibit caught her eye as having the potential to revolutionise production for her artisans in Cambodia in contrast to its status as a museum exhibit in Renfrewshire, as currently dyes are mixed in a large bowl in a slow, time-consuming process.

Subsequently, the Thread Mill Museum decommissioned the dye vat from the museum which then prompted arrangements to be made through Renfrewshire Council and Fair Trade Scotland to donate the vat to Villageworks.

Anak said: “We’re extremely happy to be receiving this gift from the Paisley Thread Mill Museum and it’s great that Renfrewshire is a supporter of fair trade.

“As a social business, fair trade is very important to us as we strive to raise the fairness and living wage for Cambodian artisans.

“The dye vat will be used to make a range of products including dyeing the world’s first fair trade tartan, further enhancing and maintaining its links to Scotland.

“We hope that the dye vat will improve our production by giving a better colour matching and uniformity and allow us to produce a better quality product.”

The vat has been exhibited as an example of Paisley’s historic thread making past before being decommissioned to allow other items to be showcased in the museum.

Mary McKeown, Vice-Chair of Paisley Thread Mill Museum, said: “We’re delighted that this historic dye vat will be brought back to life when it reaches Cambodia.

“It was used for generations by Paisley’s famous thread makers Coats at their mills here in Paisley and it is fitting that it will used by Villageworks to create fantastic products in Cambodia which use the Coats thread.

“It is yet another piece of Paisley’s rich history which is helping to retell the town’s unique story of culture and heritage to the world.”

Fair Trade tartan in NY Tartan Parade

The World Fair Trade Organisation (WFTO) and Fair Trade Scotland have been working closely with Villageworks and textile designers House of Edgar to produce the world’s first fair trade tartan, which has been recognised by the Keeper of Scottish Tartans Register.

Tania Pramschufer, Director of World Fair Trade Tartan & Hand Up Events, who created the fair trade tartan said: “It’s incredible that this dye vat is headed to Cambodia where the first World Fair Trade Tartan is woven and I look forward to seeing it in action when the World Fair Trade Tartan clan visit in October.

“I created this tartan to weave connections around the world through fair trade, to support WFTO GS members and support Scotland as a Fair Trade Nation, and this dye vat will make a huge positive impact.”

The dye vat will facilitate quicker, more efficient production of the tartan in Cambodia.

Eve Broadis, Director at Fair Trade Scotland, said: “While it may seem a small gesture, the dye vat will make production easier and more efficient which can make a huge difference to these producers.

“We work closely with Anak to help her, and her community, produce high-quality products which can be sold not just for a fair price, but one which ensures a living wage is paid to the artisans.

“As a mission-led organisation, we want to make a positive difference wherever we can and projects such as this are a fantastic way to change the lives of those involved.”

The transport of the vat to Cambodia is being funded by the Renfrewshire Fairtrade Steering Group as the group sets out to raise awareness of the importance of fair trade and encourage local people to support the cause.

Chair of the Steering Group, Renfrewshire Council Leader Iain Nicolson, said: “We’re delighted to play our part in transporting this historic piece of Paisley’s history to Cambodia to allow our famous thread making industry to continue.

“While it was purely an illustration of our past, it will make a real difference to the lives of the artisans in Cambodia in the present and we’re happy we can make a positive difference to those who need it.

“Providing this dye vat will increase and improve production which will mean the producers can get a fairer price for the fantastic work they do, creating a better life for them and their communities.”

The dye vat will be shipped to Cambodia in mid-March to allow Villageworks to bring the historic piece back to life and implement it into their production process.

coats memorial

One of Scotland’s most iconic structures could be saved from ruin – with an expert team of place makers gearing up to raise £1.5million for its preservation.

coats memorial

Coats Memorial, widely recognised as the exclamation mark of Paisley’s skyline, is looking for a new purpose since holding its last church ceremony in August 2018. Now with the support of a new Steering Group it is hoped it will once again become a cherished place where people will enjoy life’s biggest celebrations.

Led by philanthropist, businessman and Paisley native Ian Henderson, the revival of Coats Memorial could see the building compete with the likes of Glasgow’s Oran Mor and Edinburgh’s Mansfield Traquair as a multi-purpose venue. But charitable support from communities in Scotland and the rest of the world will be crucial to its future success.

Ian Henderson, Coats Memorial Steering Group, said: “Coats Memorial is an architectural marvel. As proud local people, the team holds a firm belief that if we do not do everything in our power to save this magnificent building then we have failed our ancestors and future generations who have and will go on to create wonderful memories here.

“If we achieve what we have set out to do in the New Year, Coats Memorial will be the exclamation mark in grand gatherings. We have a host of events planned as part of our campaign to safeguard the building, and look forward to announcing those in due course.

I would urge anyone who values their heritage and community values to please get behind this cause. We have the potential to do something really spectacular here, but we need the support of the community.”

Built in 1885 by Hippolyte Jean Blanc in the Gothic Revival period, Thomas Coats Memorial Church has a capacity of 1,000. Its features include a vaulted ceiling, mosaics, stencilled decoration, carved marble and alabaster. Above the chancel, the ceiling is adorned with paintings of angels and has an incredibly rare 3,040 pipe organ designed by William Hill & Sons. This stunning instrument has never been modified.

Sheenagh Gray, Chartered Architect of Framed Estates Limited said: “We are working closely with Historic Environment Scotland and local authorities and are overseeing the plans to ensure that we create a venue that pays homage to Coats Memorial’s heritage but also exceeds the expectation people have in iconic multi-purpose entertainment venues.”

The Coats Memorial Steering Group intends to launch its fundraising campaign, “100 days to save Coats Memorial” on 1 February.

paisley town hall

Paisley Town Hall has played a huge part in the lives of generations of Buddies.

Now a new project to gather people’s memories and photographs of the much-loved iconic building has been launched.

paisley town hall

Renfrewshire Leisure wants to hear from anyone who has a special memory of the Town Hall whether it involved a dance or concert held there, a first date, wedding, formal dinner, graduation or a special event.

The Memories of Paisley Town Hall project is being run as the building is about to be closed at the end of this year for a major refurbishment, which will see it re-open in 2021 as a major venue attracting events and people to the town.

paisley town hall

All you have to do is log on to www.renfrewshireleisure.com/townhallmemories and post your memories and pictures of the Town Hall. People can also pop into the Town Hall before it closes at the end of this month and complete a postcard.

Victoria Hollows, chief executive of Renfrewshire Leisure said: “While the Town Hall is closed we want to keep it alive in the hearts and minds of Paisley Buddies.

paisley town hall

“We want to hear everyone’s Town Hall tales, from funny stories to how the building has played a part in their lives and memories of some of the shows and famous bands they have seen there.

paisley town hall

“It’s well-known that music star Paolo Nutini was discovered by his first manager at Paisley Town Hall when he stepped in to give an impromptu performance on the stage while hundreds of teenagers were waiting for Fame Academy TV show winner, David Sneddon to appear. Were you there?”

Victoria added: “When we gather people’s stories and photographs we’ll publish them online so everyone can enjoy each others memories of the building over the generations.”

The refurbishment of the Town Hall is one of the key projects within Renfrewshire Council’s £100 million investment in venues and infrastructure over the next few years, as part of a wider plan to use the town’s unique heritage and cultural assets to transform its future.

Paisley Secret Collection MFG

Industry leaders have praised Paisley: The Secret Collection after it just missed out on the Cultural Project of the Year Award at the 2018 Architects’ Journal Architecture Awards

Paisley Secret Collection MFG

The project was ‘Highly Commended’ by the judges for the inventive nature of its aim to revitalise the high street by bringing the area’s historic collections to life.

Scooping the top prize was the third phase of works to remodel Liverpool’s Royal Court Theatre which saw the refurbishment of its basement into an open performance studio capable of hosting a range of events from comedy to jazz.

stella-shabti

Councillor Lisa-Marie Hughes, Convener of Renfrewshire Leisure, said: “The Secret Collection has been a fantastic addition to Paisley as we aim to transform our High Street and bring people into the area.

“The collection includes some of Paisley’s world-famous textiles, plus a mix of ceramics, world cultures, social history, art and sculpture, natural history and local archives – with many of those items unseen by the general public in decades or longer.

“It’s fantastic that everyone involved with this wonderful project has received industry recognition as it really is one of Renfrewshire’s hidden gems and I would encourage everyone to take the time to visit and see the outstanding exhibits.”

Paisley Secret Collection MFG

Paisley: The Secret Collection is the first publicly accessible museum store on a UK High Street and contains thousands of objects which reflect Renfrewshire’s amazing heritage and culture.

The state-of-the-art storage facility is a space where everyone can explore, learn, research and discover hidden treasures in the collection.

Brought to life by Collective Architecture, the project was a key highlight of the work they have carried out transforming buildings using modest budgets to achieve maximum impact.

Ewan Imrie, Project Architect, said: “We are absolutely delighted that this project has gained national recognition through the Architects’ Journal Awards.

“The judges recognised the vision and bravery of the client in placing this precious facility within a very difficult central site, so that it is both accessible and a catalyst for regeneration.

“They were also very impressed by the creative and collaborative working relationship that developed between ourselves and Renfrewshire Council which allowed a bleak former shop unit to be converted into a hidden jewel on the High Street.”

The Secret Collection was one of several successful projects which saw Collective take home the coveted prize of Architect of the Year at the Awards ceremony.

Councillor Hughes added: “Collective brought imagination and an inspired sense of style to what could have been a purely functional space.

“They also had an enormous commitment to getting every detail right in a complex state of the art facility and we’re delighted that their work on the project has been recognised in this way.”

The Secret Collection is open to the public and free guided tours should be booked in advance.

For more information on The Secret Collection, visit www.renfrewshireleisure.com/thesecretcollection

Paisley Abbey and Paisley Town Hall lit up in red

Hundreds attended Paisley Abbey for a special service to mark the centenary of the signing of the Armistice, which signalled the end of the First World War.

Paisley Abbey and Paisley Town Hall lit up in red

​Minister for Paisley Abbey, Reverend Alan Birss, led a short service of commemoration for those who gave all in service to their country with a poignant reading and prayer.

Renfrewshire’s Provost Lorraine Cameron was joined by a young person and an ex-serviceman to light a candle of remembrance in the Abbey for all those who never returned home.

Hundreds attended the special service to commemortate 100 years since the end of the First World War

The service was followed by a concert of music, song and poetry performed by the Starlight Youth Music Theatre, Chamber Choir and the Johnstone Brass Band, as they honoured the Armed Forces who have given so much.

The Abbey and Paisley Town Hall were also lit up in red to mark the occasion.

All proceeds from a collection on the night will be donated to Poppy Scotland and There But Not There.

Provost Cameron, who also attended the 10:45am service in Paisley, said: “This was a moving, poignant service in remembrance of those who made the ultimate sacrifice to allow us to have the lives we have today.

“We cannot express enough gratitude to our Armed Forces and it’s extremely important that we continue to honour them on Remembrance Sunday, and all year round as well.

“It was fantastic to see the number of people who attended services across Renfrewshire to pay tribute to the fallen, especially this year as we marked 100 years since the end of the First World War.”

Another nine events were held across Renfrewshire on Remembrance Sunday to allow all communities the opportunity to pay their respects to the fallen.

Renfrewshire’s also hosted its annual Children’s Remembrance Service on Friday 9 November at Mossvale and St James Primary School in Paisley, where pupils performed poetry and sang as they showcased their learning about why we celebrate Remembrance Day.

Veterans from the Royal British Legion Scotland (Paisley Comrades Division) were there to give pupils the opportunity to ask questions about their experiences and the work of the Legion, before a two-minute silence was observed at 10am.

For more information on why we mark Remembrance Day every year, visit www.britishlegion.org.uk/remembrance.

paisley war memorial

Renfrewshire will pay tribute to those lost in service in the Armed Forces as communities come together for a weekend of remembrance.

paisley war memorial

The services this year are especially poignant as 2018 marks 100 years since the end of the First World War.

Renfrewshire’s annual Children’s Remembrance Service will take place on Friday 9 November and will be held at the Mossvale and St James Primary School campus in Paisley.

paisley war memorial

The Royal British Legion Scotland– Paisley Comrades Division will attend to give pupils the opportunity to ask questions about the veteran’s experiences and the work of the Legion, before a minute’s silence is observed at 10am.

Commemorative events have been arranged on Armistice Day at cenotaphs or war memorials across Renfrewshire, with a special evening service being held in Paisley Abbey to mark the centenary of the armistice of the Great War.

The service in the Abbey will be followed by a concert of music, song and poetry performed by the Starlight Youth Music Theatre, Chamber Choir and the Johnstone Brass Band, beginning at 6:30pm and tickets are available directly from Paisley Abbey.

Renfrewshire’s Provost Lorraine Cameron, said: “It is important that we continue to remember the sacrifices that the members of the Armed Forces have made for us and educate our younger generations on what has gone before them.

 

“Renfrewshire has a proud military tradition and the services of commemoration are a chance to recognise those who have done so much to shape past, present and future generations.

 

“I would encourage you to come along to any of the services and pay your respects to the fallen.”

Renfrewshire Wide Event Timings

Start                Finish (est.)

Houston           10.00am          10.30am

Kilbarchan       10.00am          10.30am

Renfrew          10.45am          11.30am

Paisley             10.45am          11.30am

Lochwinnoch   10.45am          11.15am

Howwood        12pm               12.30pm

Johnstone       12.30pm          1.00pm

Elderslie          2.30pm            3.00pm

Bridge of Weir 3.00pm            3.30pm

There will also be a service at Erskine Care Home 10.50am

For more information, visit: www.renfrewshire.gov.uk/RemembranceServices2018.

Paisley Fireworks 2016 MFG

Paisley is set for a special 90s themed fireworks spectacular as the town’s annual display takes place on Saturday 3 November.

Paisley Fireworks 2016 MFG

Thousands are expected to turn out and see the skies above Paisley Abbey light up – and this year’s dazzling fireworks display will be backed by a soundtrack of popular hits from the 1990s.

The display will burst into life from 7pm with organisers recommending Bridge Street, Dunn Square and Gauze Street (section from Smithhills Street to Silk Street) as viewing points.

The funs starts in Paisley Town Hall from 2pm, with a series of free family activities throughout the afternoon – including activity workshops, animation sessions, face painting and a floor paint zone. There’s also the chance to meet cartoon character favourites with Pikachu, Minions, Superman, Batgirl, Peter Pan and Tinkerbell mascots all in attendance.

The 90s themed fun continues with iconic arcade games on the ground floor and a ‘silent disco’ – back by popular demand – for music fans of all ages.

There will also be a host of activity in the town’s County Square with fantastic funfair rides from 2pm.

Capital FM presenters Fat Brestovca and Des Clarke will take to the balcony of Paisley Town Hall for a two-hour live DJ set packed with 90s classics from 5pm before the stunning fireworks display lights up the sky above the Abbey.

Paisley’s winter events programme will continue with the town’s Christmas Lights Switch-On two weeks later, on Saturday 17 November. The festive cracker will feature entertainment from Capital FM and performances from family favourites Funbox, Princesses of Pop and X-Factor stars The Cutkelvins, as well as the famous Reindeer Parade with Santa and much more.

The winter event thrills will also extend across Renfrewshire with Christmas Lights Switch-Ons in Renfrew on Saturday, 24 November and Johnstone on Saturday, 1 December.

For more information about Paisley Fireworks Spectacular, visit https://paisley.is/featured_event/paisley-fireworks-spectacular/

paisley halloween festival 2018

The town centre was taken over by the ghoulish extravaganza, which is one of the major events as part of the Year of Young People 2018 celebrations.

paisley halloween festival 2018

Around 500 young people and costumed performers took part in the parade, which wound its way through the town centre against a backdrop of historic steeples and spires and the 850-year-old Abbey.

The Photographs below were taken by Scottish Photography Productions and kindly allowed for use on paisley.org.uk

Year of Young People

A global first, YoYP 2018 is a part of the Scottish Government’s themed-year programme which focuses on celebrating Scotland’s greatest assets.

A year-long programme of events and festivals are taking place across the whole of the country for all ages to enjoy, led by EventScotland part of VisitScotland’s Events Directorate. More information at www.visitscotland.com/yoyp2018

Paisley Halloween Festival is supported by the Year of Young People 2018 Event Fund, managed by EventScotland, part of the VisitScotland Events Directorate.

EventScotland is working with the events and festivals sector to develop an exciting portfolio of Year of Young People 2018 public-facing events which provide opportunities for young people to express themselves through a wide range of activity.

Local authorities, schools, youth groups and organisations are running their own YoYP 2018 activity. Search #YOYP2018 on Twitter for the latest news.

Young people co-designed the Year. A group of young leaders, Communic18, lead on all key decision making. More than 380 Ambassadors are championing activity.

The Year is delivered in partnership between the Scottish Government, VisitScotland and EventScotland – part of the VisitScotland Events Directorate, Young Scot, Scottish Youth Parliament, Children in Scotland, YouthLink Scotland and Creative Scotland.

More information can be found at yoyp2018.scot, searching @YOYP2018 #YOYP2018 on Twitter or by emailing yoyp2018@gov.scot

It is one of the most infamous witch trials in history which saw Paisley the last town in western Europe to conduct a mass execution in 1697.

Four women and three men were sentenced to death after series of events which started when the  11-year-old daughter of a local laird mysteriously fell ill.

Christian Shaw suffered fits, similar to demonic possession, and accused several people of bewitching her.  Witchcraft was against the law in Scotland and seven people were tried as witches and executed at Gallow Green.

But as Paisley gears up to stage its annual Halloween Festival inspired by Renfrewshire’s dark witch history, retired academic Hugh McLachlan says history has treated Christian Shaw unfairly.

Hugh, who researched the 1697 trials extensively and is editor of ‘The Kirk, Satan and Salem: A History of the Witches of Renfrewshire’, says that far from being a malicious accuser, she was unfairly maligned.

Hugh, who first became aware of the case as a young research assistant at Glasgow University, said: “Christian Shaw has had a very bad press with the notion that she was a particularly bad, evil child who was able to fool the courts and local dignitaries for malicious purposes.

“This seemed to me be not very plausible and grossly unfair so my interest was aroused at the potential injustice.

“The alternative view point that she was suffering from a hysterical malady or mental illness seemed to me to be even less likely, so I researched the case.”

Hugh says the case was different from other witchcraft trials in that a child was the main accuser.

He also believes the story was influenced by what happened in Salem in Massachusetts just a few years later.

He added: “The actual evidence didn’t suggest that Christian Shaw was either mentally ill or malicious, but rather she was actually peripheral to the case.

“If you look at the accusations against the people who were charged with witchcraft, if you removed what they were said to have done to Christian Shaw, they would still have been executed.

“It wasn’t crucial to the case and it’s not clear if she even gave evidence at the trial.”

He says that he believes the story was influenced by a book later written on the case by local minsters.

He said: “When people consider her role in all of this, they weren’t considering her evidence at the trial but this book.

“It was written be local ministers who were very well aware of Salem witch trial and wanted to make a theological point. Witches renounced Christ and the fear of witchcraft centred on that and the Devil.

“But if the Devil existed, so did God, and they were trying to encourage atheists to repent.

“It was 1697 and they were looking to the turn of the century and it was a period of great turmoil.

“The local ministers thought the world was coming to an end.”

After the trial Christian Shaw’s story took another sensational twist when she became a prominent businesswoman who founded the Bargarran Thread Company along with her mother.

It transformed into the cotton company on which Paisley’s fame and wealth was founded.

Hugh added: “I think even today her role in the witchcraft trials is misinterpreted. I don’t think Christian Shaw was a malicious child and that she should instead be celebrated as a successful entrepreneur.

“Women often get a rough deal in history and are written out. This is only one interpretation, but the one that I believe. But I think the other stories should still be told, they live in contradiction and conflict with each other.”

Paisley’s annual Halloween Festival ‘Something Wicked this Way Comes’ returns on Saturday 27 October, with a Friday Fright Night on 26 October, and features an animated parade, sound and light installations and performances.

The festival, supported by the Year of Young People 2018 event fund managed by EventScotland, part of VisitScotland’s Events Directorate, has been developed with the help of young people. It is celebrating their talents both as performers, as well as contributors to the management of the event behind the scenes.

Part of this is a new production starring a 50-strong cast of young people who will take part in a breathtaking aerial show.

For more information please go to www.paisley.is