Renfrew Golf Club Pro Am August 1977

IT was the day huge crowds turned out at Renfrew Golf Club to catch a glimpse of famous celebrities playing in a charity tournament.

One of the famous faces teeing off was none other than 007 himself, Sean Connery, who was joined by other stars from the world of entertainment and sport for a round of golf on the local course.

Renfrew Golf Club Pro Am August 1977

Image of Henry Cooper, Sean Connery, Jimmy Tarbuck and woman unknown, at Renfrew Golf Club participating in a Saints and Sinners Pro-Am tournament in aid of the Variety Club

Now a film looking back on that special day is to premier on Renfrewshire Leisure’s online television channel Ren TV, at 7pm on Friday, September 25.

Created by local filmmaker, Paul Russell, the film, Watch The Birdie, captures the excitement of locals as they watched the golf tournament – in aid of the Variety Club of Great Britain – held in August 1977.

As well as Sean Connery, one-time British, Commonwealth and European boxing champion, Henry Cooper, along with TV stars Bruce Forsyth and Jimmy Tarbuck also played in the tournament, at the Renfrew golf course.

Paul revealed that the film was inspired by the hilarious responses to some pictures taken at the event by photographer Pete Degnan, which had been posted on the Renfrew REMO Facebook page, where Renfrew residents share memories of their town.

The photographs prompted a lot of discussion and humorous anecdotes being posted on the social media page.

The film features interviews with event organisers, those who caddied on the day; Norry (correct) Wilson of the popular Lost Glasgow social history blog and photographer, Pete Degnan, who travelled from Derby to take part.

Paul said: “Younger viewers might not get the significance, but to have Sean Connery, Henry Cooper, James Hunt, Bruce Forsyth and Jimmy Tarbuck, to name but a few coming to Renfrew, would be today’s equivalent of having Daniel Craig, Tyson Fury, Lewis Hamilton, and Ant and Dec all coming to play a round at Renfrew Golf Club. These were the big stars of the day.”

“Lockdown has been a tough shift in lots of ways for everybody, but these recent times recently have really gathered people together in a virtual sense, brought happier times into focus and helped us all get through it.

“Pete Degnans photographs are a gift in this regard and it is in the conversations, anecdotes and memories his images prompt, in which the real magic occurs.

“Every community has something to be proud of, things which make it unique, and it can be a comfort to remember and talk about these, especially when it can seem like the chips are down and past certainties can no longer be taken for granted.”

Chairperson of Renfrewshire Leisure, Councillor Lisa-Marie Hughes said: “I can’t wait to watch this film.

“As well as bearing witness to part of Renfrew’s social history where the community came together for an extraordinary event, I’m sure the film will be very entertaining and bring a smile to the faces of everyone watching – especially those who remember the golf tournament and saw the stars coming out to play at Renfrew Golf Club.”

The film is a Future Paisley project, as part of a radical and wide-ranging programme of events, activities and investments using the town’s unique and internationally significant cultural stories to transform its future.

To see Watch The Birdie go to www.renfrewshireleisure.com/rentv/.

Renfrewshire Heritage Centre

Renfrewshire Leisure says safety is the priority with measures including appointment-only entry and use of face coverings to protect visitors and staff

Renfrewshire’s popular Heritage Centre is reopening amid a surge of interest among people keen to learn more about their family history and community’s past.

Renfrewshire Heritage Centre3

The restart of on-site services on Thursday, September 17th, marks another stage in recovery from the coronavirus lockdown by the Centre’s operator, leisure and cultural charity Renfrewshire Leisure.

All visitors will be strictly required to pre-book their attendance and wear face coverings as part of health and social distancing measures being put in place to protect them and members of staff. Bookings can be made from today (Thursday, September 10th).

The Heritage Centre, temporarily located at the Abbey Mill Business Centre on Seedhill Road in Paisley as the £42m transformation of Paisley Museum continues, boasts an impressive collection of items and information which charts the stories of the people and places of Renfrewshire, from the earliest of times to the present day.

Renfrewshire

Its staff have been putting their expertise to strong use digitally during lockdown, supporting people with online research into the likes of family history and stories of the past from across Renfrewshire and expect the carefully managed return of physical services to be busy.

Christine McLean, Heritage Manager at Renfrewshire Leisure, said: “We’re looking forward to welcoming people back, albeit in a different way to that in which we’re used to, and helping them to use the great resources available at the centre, complementing the support we’ve been providing online and over the phone since March. Some of our team have 30 or 40 years’ experience so are a fantastic source of information themselves, as well as the fascinating resources we have.

“We’ve found that walks and the sights seen along the way during lockdown have inspired people to learn more about the history of the towns and villages in which they live – their built and social heritage. Lots of them have been getting in-touch to find out more information, as have those who have been using the time to explore their family history.”

Renfrewshire Heritage Centre3

To ensure that people can carry out their research in a safe and secure environment, coronavirus mitigation measures include:

  • An appointment-only entrance system. Bookings must be arranged in advance by emailing heritage@renfrewshire.gov.uk or by calling 0141 618 5375.
  • The discussion of research requirements ahead of arrival. Entrance will not be allowed without proof of pre-booking. 
  • Specific table allocation. Tables will be two metres apart. The resources required will be placed on these tables prior to arrival. No further items can be added during the visit.
  • Hand hygiene measures which protect both people and the items in the centre’s collection.
  • The quarantining of resources for 72 hours after every use.

For more details on arrangements at the Heritage Centre – or how all other Renfrewshire Leisure services are affected by Covid-19 and the protection measures in place at each venue – go to www.renfrewshireleisure.com/coronavirus

wallace-bruce

Hey, Lucas here again. Now I suggest if you are not into good old Scottish history then probably best not to read this. My great grandfather loved Scottish history so I decided to dedicate this article in memory of him. 

wallace-bruce

Now if you are Scottish, have been brought up within Scotland or just love good old Scottish history then you will know the famous King Robert The Bruce and the famous Scottish rebellion by the name of William Wallace…or maybe you have just seen Braveheart. Anyways, you will know William Wallace was the famous Scottish rebellion who chased King Edward and his army back down to England after they tried to invade Scotland and take it over. King Robert The Bruce was the King of Scots, he was the man who won the battle of Bannockburn and freed Scotland from the English rule announcing Scotland as an independent kingdom. So, what do these guys have to do with Paisley? A-lot, well according to legend as it stands. 

Let us start with William Wallace, shall we? There is still a lot of debate surrounding it but Elderslie is still regarding as William’s birthplace. This is due to it being known that within the 15th century poem by Blind Harry it says that William’s father was in fact the Sir Malcolm of Elderslie which is in Renfrewshire which is why Elderslie is still commonly held as William’s birthplace. Within the legends it says that William was educated by the monks of Paisley because he was the son of a second minor noble. Now to myself William being educated by monks makes sense considering there is a stain glass window of William in Paisley Abbey but who knows? Anyways, legend has it that it may have been expected for Wallace to become a priest, clearly this did not happen and life took him down a very different road. He led in what was called the Scottish Resistance in the first years of the long battle between Scotland and England to free Scotland from the English rule. 

Of course, this all started because King Edward decided to imprison the Scottish King at the time John de Balliol and decided to declare that he was now the ruler of Scotland, I guess that was one way to take over another land and then of course this led to a very long war where William Wallace lead the Scottish Resistance into battle with King Edward’s army and chased them back down to England at one point during the war. Now, when I say chased, I mean they did battle and the Scottish Resistance won, making the English army retreat. I don’t mean the Scottish Resistance literary chased English army all the way back down to England shouting “FREEDOM” or that, no people this isn’t Mel Gibson in Braveheart. However, on that note all these stories are just legends there is no documented evidence to say any of this is true so I will leave that up to yourself to decide. 

Now moving onto Robert The Bruce as I explained Robert the Bruce otherwise known as the King of Scots was the King of Scotland. It was the year after William Wallace was killed that Robert the Bruce became the King of Scotland, he became King in 1306. Now even though Robert is not himself directly linked to Paisley (sorry to disappoint all you Robert the Bruce fans), his eldest child Marjory Bruce is. When Marjory was young, she was taken and imprisoned by King Edward when Robert The Bruce her father snatched the vacant crown that was called King of Scots. Marjory was kept imprisoned within the now famous Tower of London, though I imagine back in those days the Tower of London was not a place you wanted to go to never-mind be imprisoned within. #

Anyways, Robert’s daughter was only freed when the Scots and English armies went to war and won the Battle of Bannockburn, the Scots army being led by Robert the Bruce himself. The battle took place in 1314 which was when Robert’s daughter was released finally from the Tower of London, a year later in 1315 she was wed to one of her father’s lieutenants, his most loyal one at that. She was wed to a man name Walter Fitzalan who was the High Steward to the King. He was also a decedent of Walter Fitzalan the man who built the Paisley Abbey 150 years or so before. The legend goes that Marjory who was pregnant was riding back to her husband William’s castle in Renfrew on May the 2nd 1316 when she accidentally had fallen from her horse. Her baby had to be delivered by C-Section however, sadly Marjory did not survive the accident. 

There is a Wallace Monument within Elderslie and of course the stained-glass window earlier that I mentioned of William Wallace which is within Paisley Abbey. The Marjory Bruce Cairn is a large carin stone that stands on Renfrew road in Paisley, nobody knows to this day if the story of Marjory Bruce is true or not again I will leave that up to you to decide for yourself. Do you believe that Marjory was killed in the way the legend says or do you think she died of childbirth that was common back in those days? How about William Wallace do you think he was born in Elderslie or another part of Scotland? 

One thing is for sure though no matter whether these legends or true or not they make up a great part of Scotland’s magnificent history and Paisley and Renfrewshire’s. Maybe one day we will find out if these legends are true or not but for now let’s just embrace it as another part of Paisley and Renfrewshire’s hidden history.

alien gargoyle paisley abbey

Hello, let me introduce myself my name is Lucas, I am one of the newest journalists for Paisley.org.uk. I am so pleased to be able to share my first article with you guys and I hope you enjoy this article as much as I enjoyed writing it for you. Just so you can all get to know me a little better I am a new journalist starting out.  I have always had an interest in journalism and I love writing. I am not originally from Paisley nor do I currently live there.  I live in a different region however; Paisley was a large part of my teenage years.

Paisley is a town that people are drawn to; it is a town that people are happy to call home even when some people are negative about it.  Paisley is a town that has a lot to offer from its Shopping Centres, High Street and parks to the Paisley Abbey and Paisley fountain gardens. There is so much to see and do and most of it is free. Paisley is a very welcoming town full of people who are more than happy to help if you need directions or if you just need to know where a certain place is. As previously stated I did not grow up in Paisley but I did go to high school there so it was a town that I spent 4 years getting to know and that I still go back to even to this day.  When I first started school in Paisley, I had no knowledge about the town and I did not know anything about it. Now many years on it is a town I have grown to become quite fond of in many ways.

grand fountain

When I think of Paisley the first thing that comes to mind is its transport system.  I,have no knowledge on the buses of Paisley as I am a rail traveller. I love using the trains and that is always the one thing that sticks out to me when I think of Paisley is the train stations. Paisley has three train stations Paisley Gilmour Street, Paisley St James, and Paisley Canal.  Paisley Gilmour Street sits in the town centre of Paisley and is most likely the busiest due to its location.  Paisley St James is situated right across from St Mirren Football Club and is at its busiest when St Mirren are playing a home game.  Sadly this won’t be the case just now due to COVID-19 but it is still popular with regular commuters. Paisley Canal is a five- or ten-minutes’ walk from the Royal Alexandra Hospital.  So, as you can see Paisley has a good rail network in terms of getting you to different parts of the town.

town-hall-abbey-centre

This is one of many positives about Paisley, Paisley is a historical town and it is popular with tourists. People near and far come to see the Paisley Abbey, The Paisley Horseshoe, Coats Observatory just to name a few things. So, let me tell you a little information about these sights I have mentioned.

horseshoe

Paisley Abbey is still an active abbey, services take place there and people can just go to pray. Services take place on a Sunday but you do need to contact the abbey to check if you can attend due to the COVID-19 restrictions.   During this pandemic the café is closed and the gift shop is only open for a few hours on certain days. When the Abbey is open however, you can go in and see what the Abbey has to offer from its beautifully designed windows to its magnificent organ. After exploring the building you can enjoy a light lunch or just a coffee in the tearoom or buy a souvenir from the gift shop. Although the Paisley Abbey is free to enter, donations would be appreciated. . The Abbey relies on public donations to keep running and to remain open. The profit from the gift shop and café also go towards its upkeep. Just because the Abbey itself is currently closed to the public this does not mean you still can’t go see the outside of the Abbey, the building is beautifully built…just don’t get too freaked out by the gargoyles.

 

Moving on from creepy gargoyles to a lovely metal horseshoe plaque surrounded by cobblestones in the middle of the crossroads where Maxwellton Street and George Street cross. You may think that this is a nice lovely little plaque but, this plaque tells the story of a very dark but interesting part of Paisleys past. On the plaque the words are embedded Pain Inflicted, Suffering Endured, Injustice Done. I remember one day walking over this plaque while crossing the road and having no idea the story behind it, most folk might just think it is a drain cover. The story behind this horseshoe plaque is back some time ago in Paisley in the 17th century when a little girl called Christian Shaw became unwell, a few days before this a woman named Katherine Campbell has shouted curses at Christian. This led Christian to accuse Katherine of witchcraft along with six men and women. At this time witchcraft was illegal in Scotland so when the case went to court all seven of them were sentenced to be executed. Although it is said that one of the men took his own life in prison before the law could.

alien gargoyle paisley abbey

The six remaining people including Katherine were strangled and burned at the stake in the park within Paisley named Gallow Green, one of the women burned is said to have cursed all of the people at the execution and their descendants. The charred remains of the six bodies were buried at the crossroads where Maxwellton Street meets George Street. The horseshoe and plaque were supposedly to stop the witch’s spirits coming back. The story might seem a bit dark and glum but this is a big part of Paisley’s history, unfortunately you can’t get a close up look of the horseshoe plaque due to it being situated in the middle of the busy crossroads but you will still be able to see it from a distance.  If you do want to surround yourself with that part of Paisley’s history you can go have a look around Gallow  Green Park where the executions took place all those years ago.

From scary gargoyles and witch trials to the very last place I am going to tell you about. Barshaw Park is a lovely big park located within Paisley There are a few things to see and do in this lovely park. If you have children then there is a playpark for them , there is a safe play area for younger children  too.

The park is not only for children. For those who just want a bit of peace and quiet then take a walk around the Walled Peace Garden which has paved paths for you to follow. Depending on how energetic you feel you could always climb to the top of the hilltop and look at the stunning views of Paisley. Great photo opportunity if you are a budding  photographer maybe take some pictures from the hilltop as the sun rises or sets over Paisley. It’s also a great place to walk your dog.  We should not forget about the miniature railway, loved by people young and old , however due to vandalism the engines were destroyed in an arson attack.  Funds are being raised to help the volunteers with the repairs. If none of that sounds like your  thing then why not just take a walk round the park, or  maybe even grab a coffee and go and sit on one of the benches within the park and watch the world go by.

The park is not only for children. For those who just want a bit of peace and quiet then take a walk around the Walled Peace Garden which has paved paths for you to follow. Depending on how energetic you feel you could always climb to the top of the hilltop and look at the stunning views of Paisley. Great photo opportunity if you are a budding photographer maybe take some pictures from the hilltop as the sun rises or sets over Paisley. It’s also a great place to walk your dog.  We should not forget about the miniature railway, loved by people young and old, however due to vandalism the engines were destroyed in an arson attack.  Funds are being raised to help the volunteers with the repairs. If none of that sounds like your thing then why not just take a walk round the park, or maybe even grab a coffee and go and sit on one of the benches within the park and watch the world go by.

I hope you have enjoyed reading this article about some of the sights and history of Paisley. I want to finish this article by giving you some lovely comments I received about Paisley.

“Something positive about Paisley is actors like Gerald Butler and musicians like Paolo Nutini come from there and having people like that come from a small town really promotes the town itself and its creative industries.”  Laura, Hertfordshire.

“The people of Paisley are proud of their heritage, their culture and their identity. Paisley is widely known for its textiles, its architecture and its talent” Gavin, former teacher at Kibble Education and Care Centre.

“I like Paisley because it has really good bus connections and it is easy to get from one place to another.” Ewan, Glasgow

Renfrewshire-Leisure

Safety the priority as Renfrewshire Leisure has to wait for “green light” on leisure service, including gyms and pools.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon today (Thursday, 30th July) confirmed a further delay before gyms and swimming pools can reopen, with opening now identified as likely to be allowed on 14th September. That timeline is dependent on maintaining low levels of virus in the community as well as ensuring that all social distancing and hygiene protocols are followed, although the First Minister held out the prospect of particularly favourable conditions perhaps permitting an opening date at the end of August.

Renfrewshire-Leisure

Chair of Renfrewshire Leisure, Councillor Lisa Marie Hughes said: “We really do value the support of our members and the wider public and know how much people in Renfrewshire have missed these services. These centres are important parts of our communities, playing important roles in helping our health and wellbeing. We are looking forward to welcoming people back and working with them to ensure their return is both safe and enjoyable.” 

 

Victoria Hollows, Chief Executive of Renfrewshire Leisure, said: “We know how eagerly the community is waiting for news on a date for reopening our leisure facilities, not least of all because of the vital part they play in ensuring we can get everyone active again after a long period of closure during lockdown. 

 

“With reopening now no earlier than the end of August, and perhaps not until mid September, we will continue to use the time before then to refine our procedures – continuing to reflect that our first priority for opening will be the safety of our customers and staff.”

 

Renfrewshire Leisure will also be working with Renfrewshire Council’s education department towards the recommencement of its Active Schools programmes from the start of the new school term, as well as working with local sports clubs and teams to make earliest possible use of courts and pitches after confirmation that these can commence from specified dates in August.

Sma shot day 2020

This weekend marks the digital debut of Paisley’s annual Sma’ Shot Day celebrations as a series of virtual events and workshops will take place to mark this important date in the town’s calendar.

Sma shot day 2020

The online event will take place on Saturday 4 July – the time when the weavers and their families would traditionally always take their holidays.

The move to take the event online for 2020 is in response to the current COVID-19 pandemic, to ensure celebrations can still take place in adherence with national guidance.

The traditional Sma’ Shot holiday in Paisley takes its name from a famous dispute between the local shawl weavers and manufacturers in the 19th century. In 1856, following a long dispute, the manufacturers backed down and an agreement was reached to pay for the Sma’ Shot, the invisible stitch which bound the Paisley shawls, with a new table of prices published on 1 July 1856.

This year’s event will not only mark this important date in the town’s history but will also celebrate our fantastic key workers.

The event always offers plenty of opportunities for people to get involved and have fun and this year is no exception.

The day will kick-off in style at 12pm as The Charleston Drummer himself, Tony Lawler, will lead a mass online drum-off where the public are being encouraged to make as much noise as they can and share their celebrations on social media.

Aerial dance theatre company, All or Nothing, will be performing dance and music project – Connecting Threads – inspired by the background and history of Sma’ Shot. Everyone is invited to join in and dance along to the new Sma’ Shot inspired music track by Dave Boyd.

In the run-up to Connecting Threads local groups and individuals have been participating in online classes and creative tasks with the group and have submitted videos that will feature in a short film that can be viewed online on the day.

Local theatre company PACE will be hosting live drama workshop sessions created especially for the day – an interactive storytelling workshop suitable for 3-7 year olds and an activity-based session aimed at children aged 7 and above.

Sma’ Shot Day favourite – The Tea Dance – will also take place this year, albeit it from the comfort of your own home, as Renfrewshire Leisure and Paisley FM bring a special Sma’ Shot Day radio broadcast of this popular event.

For those who want to be fully immersed in the day’s events, local upcycled fashion innovators ReMode have put together some online video tutorials to show how people can get crafty and make their own costumes or window decorations to celebrate the day.

It would not be Sma’ Shot Day without the popular Poetry Slam. This year the spoken-word event will be known as the ‘Dooslan Staying Hame’ where people can enjoy some poetry written during lockdown and performed by some of Renfrewshire’s finest contemporary poets and spoken-word artists.

In addition, Renfrewshire Leisure and The Bungalow are partnering up for the Sma’sh Hits Sma’ Shot Special music event, showcasing a selection of local musicians.

For those looking to start Sma’ Shot weekend off early join CREATE Paisley and host Jordan Stewart for an unplugged Live Open Mic night on Friday 3 July featuring young singer/songwriters from across Renfrewshire.

This will be followed on Saturday 4 July by ‘Paisley in Song’ where people can enjoy five songs from young Renfrewshire songwriters in this exclusive online showcase. The youngsters worked alongside Paisley-songwriter Michael Cassidy to develop a set including two new collaborative songs celebrating our key workers and NHS, and three songs exploring Paisley’s incredible history of song writing and poetic legacy, written in 2019 as part of Renfrewshire Council’s THCARS2 project.

Renfrewshire’s Provost, Lorraine Cameron, said: “Sma’ Shot Day is such a popular date in the town’s calendar and it’s excellent that we can still celebrate it this year through a series of fantastic online events.

“The digital programme is packed full of fun, interactive and creative activities that the whole family can participate in and enjoy – helping to create the amazing sense of community that is always so present at this event.

“I can’t wait to welcome you all to Saturday’s event and I look forward to logging on and enjoying some of the great activities planned.”

For all the information on what’s taking place as part of this year’s digital Sma’ Shot Day and how you can get involved, please visit www.paisley.is/featured_event/sma-shot-day/.

Paisley Food and Drink Festival 2019

A Renfrewshire Council spokesperson said: “In line with national guidance from the Scottish Government on the coronavirus, we have taken the decision to cancel all large-scale Renfrewshire Council-run events until the end of June.

Paisley Food and Drink Festival 2019

“This will include the Paisley Food and Drink Festival which was due to take place on Friday 24 and Saturday 25 April and an agreement with the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association (RSPBA) to cancel the British Pipe Band Championships in Paisley, which was set to take place on Saturday 23 May.

“We will also look to reschedule both Renfrew Gala Day and Barshaw Gala Day for the end of summer.

“We will continue to review our future events, including Sma’ Shot Day on Saturday 4 July, as the situation progresses.

“We would advise everyone to continue to observe the medical advice available at NHS Inform. For further information, please visit www.nhsinform.scot/coronavirus.

“For ongoing updates to our event programme, please visit www.paisley.is.”

kelvin house forbes place

A prominent Paisley town centre site which has lain empty for a decade could be brought back into use as new flats – with a proposal to sell it to developers going to councillors next week.

The former council office at Kelvin House and adjacent building on Forbes Place occupy a prime spot overlooking the White Cart River but were last occupied in 2009 when social work staff moved out.

kelvin house forbes place

Members of the council’s Infrastructure, Land and Environment Policy Board will next week be asked to authorise the site’s sale to developers Nixon Blue, who plan to build flats and a commercial unit.

Nixon Blue already own the adjacent site – the now-demolished former Institute nightclub – and were last year granted planning permission to build 36 flats and a restaurant there.

The site they are now hoping to buy takes in the B-listed buildings at 16-20 Forbes Place, the old Paisley social work office at Kelvin House, and a former depot behind that in Marshall’s Lane.

Their initial proposal is to refurbish the Forbes Place building and convert the other two to residential. Any future development would be subject to the relevant planning consents being granted.

When a previous move to turn the site into a hotel didn’t come to fruition, the building reverted to council ownership and was readvertised for sale.

Nixon Blue recently completed 32 new flats elsewhere in the town at Old Sneddon Street – on the site of the former Carnegie’s nightclub.

The Kelvin House site forms part of an emerging Abbey Quarter which has seen hundreds of new residents in recent years in Link Housing’s development on the former Arnotts site, with more to come, and in the new flats built by Westpoint Homes on Cotton Street and Mill Street.

With great views across the river to Paisley Abbey and Town Hall, development there would complement the council’s current investment to turn Paisley Town Hall into a landmark entertainment venue and to transform Abbey Close as an expanded events venue and attractive place to gather.

Councillor Cathy McEwan, convenor of the council’s Infrastructure, Land and Environment Policy Board said: “Should councillors give approval to this sale next week, it could see another long-time vacant Paisley town centre building being brought back into use.

“Earlier this year, the council unveiled A Vision for Paisley 2030 – which imagined what the town centre could look like in a decade – and central to that was the idea of new town centre living bringing life back to Paisley by helping drive new footfall to the surrounding traders.

“The initial proposals for this site are an example of how that Vision could be delivered on over the years ahead, and the various other town centre housing developments we’ve seen in recent years are proof Paisley is now recognised by the private sector as on the up and a great place to invest.

“The major investment the council is already making in our venues and outdoor spaces over the next few years will only help build on that further.”

The Infrastructure, Land and Environment Policy Board will consider the proposed sale when they meet on Wednesday 18 March.

Sma Shot Cottages

Work has started on a £600k investment to restore the architectural gems of one of Paisley’s key historic quarters – including repairs to the town’s much-loved Sma’ Shot Cottages visitor attraction.

The work was made possible by the Renfrewshire-Council-run five-year £4.5m Townscape Heritage/Conservation Area Regeneration Scheme, which aims to repair historic buildings, shopfronts and outdoor spaces throughout the town centre.

Sma Shot Cottages

The TH/CARS2 programme is working with the property owners to deliver three projects in the Shuttle Street/George Place area over the next few months. They are:

– the Sma’ Shot cottages – two buildings of massive historical significance for Paisley and Renfrewshire taking visitors back in time with a unique insight into the area’s textile heritage. The work includes building, stone and roof repairs, new doors and window grilles, and repainting;

– conservation work including roof and stone repairs and new traditional windows for the Category B-listed 5 George Place, a fine example of a mid-Georgian townhouse;

5 george place

– work to improve the outdoor streetscape along George Place and around the side of the cottages, with new Caithness slab paving and relaid cobbles on the road;

Contractors are already on site at the Sma’ Shot Cottages and work is expected to start on the two George Place projects in the coming weeks.

Sma Shot Cottages

TH/CARS2 is funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, Historic Environment Scotland and the council. The bulk of the work is funded through grants from the programme but also includes a six-figure total contribution from the building owners.

Some of the volunteers from the Old Paisley Society, the charity which owns and operates the Sma’ Shot Cottages, were on hand to mark the start of the work, dressed in traditional costume.

Cath Mitchell, chair of the Old Paisley Society, said: “We open every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday from 1 April through to September and we get visitors from all over the world.

“With TH/CARS2 we are getting the front painted and so many more things done and it will help preserve the wonderful history we have here.”

Sma Shot Cottages

The TH/CARS2 scheme is currently funding a number of other projects around the town centre – with grants towards repair work to restore prominent buildings at 3 County Place and 44 High Street, plus a series of shopfront restoration projects throughout the town.

The work complements wider regeneration in Paisley town centre and forms part of the £100m currently being invested in the town’s historic venues and outdoor spaces to help drive new footfall, including the transformation of Paisley Museum into a world-class destination.

Renfrewshire Council leader Iain Nicolson added: “Paisley has a wonderful architectural heritage – and we want to keep it looking at its best, which is what the TH/CARS2 scheme is designed to do.

“We are fortunate to have been able to attract substantial external funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund and Historic Environment Scotland. That money is going to good use to help owners bring empty buildings back into use and restore historic features for future generations.

“I am delighted that includes these three projects and in particular that we are able to help preserve the Sma’ Shot Cottages, which is one of Paisley’s most unique and important attractions.”

The TH/CARS 2 team will liaise with residents and businesses over any impact to parking and access expected to be caused by the work.

John Byrne's Big Birthday Bash - image courtesy of The Fine Art Society

A commitment of over £1million to support culture and events is helping to bolster Paisley’s reputation as one of Scotland’s top destinations for culture and events with a jam-packed programme planned for 2020.

A range of exciting projects, events and collaborations are being supported by Future Paisley – a programme of economic, social and physical regeneration building on the work already done to use Paisley’s internationally-significant culture and heritage story to change its future.

John Byrne's Big Birthday Bash - image courtesy of The Fine Art Society

Following the town’s UK City of Culture 2021 bid Future Paisley, funded by Renfrewshire Council, earmarked more than £1million to invest in supporting cultural and events programming in the town as part of a three-year funding package until 2022. Some projects supported through this funding come to fruition in 2020.

Next week the town will host the first-ever Paisley Book Festival supported through the Future Paisley programme and delivered by Renfrewshire Leisure. The ten-day event, taking place from 20 – 29 February at various town centre venues, will be centred on the theme of Radical Voices and Rebel Stories – drawing on the Paisley Radicals of 1820 as inspiration. The impressive programme will feature the likes of Jackie Kaye, John Byrne, Janice Galloway, Kirsty Wark, Alan Bissett and even a performance from the Fun Lovin’ Crime Writers.

Underwood Lane Tron Theatre_IMAGE - resized 1

One of Paisley’s favourite sons, John Byrne, will bring his new musical play, Underwood Lane, to Paisley Arts Centre from 25-28 June for its world premiere, in partnership with Renfrewshire Leisure and Tron Theatre. The play tells the tale of a young skiffle band trying to make it and is written in memory of John’s Paisley buddy, Gerry Rafferty, who was born and brought up on the titular street. Underwood Lane is the last event to be held at Paisley Arts Centre before it closes for refurbishment.

The Paisley People’s Theatre Project, a large-scale participatory arts programme will launch this summer as part of a collaboration between National Theatre of Scotland, Slung Low and Renfrewshire Leisure. It will engage with the local community offering classes and courses via Slung Low’s mobile Cultural Community College and months of in-depth workshops and rehearsals with professional actors and creatives leading to a performance in 2021 telling the story of Paisley’s momentous past.

Paisley Book Festival logo

Future Paisley Lead for Renfrewshire Council, Leonie Bell, said: “The quality of events and collaborations taking place in Paisley in 2020 demonstrates how culture is thriving in the town. Through Future Paisley we are nurturing and supporting creativity in communities, the cultural potential of Paisley and opening-up opportunities for everyone to benefit from the transformative power of culture.

“By working with partners, communities, artists and creative and cultural organisations, locally and nationally, we are making changes that will benefit everyone in Renfrewshire by supporting brilliant art and culture through a programme of events, festivals and collaborations.”

Chairperson of Renfrewshire Leisure, Councillor Lisa-Marie Hughes said: “This year offers so many opportunities for the people of Paisley and Renfrewshire to enjoy and engage with a fantastic and diverse range of cultural and creative events.

“The first-ever Paisley Book Festival will bring some of the most prestigious names in the Scottish literary scene to the town for what is sure to be a fantastic event. We’re all very excited to be hosting the first ever performance of celebrated Paisley Buddie, John Byrne’s, Underwood Lane production to Paisley Art Centre for what I’m sure will be a sell-out show.

“The impressive and extensive range of activity taking place supports the aims of Renfrewshire Leisure to help build cultural capacity and public participation in the creative arts in the town.”

Co-Producer of Paisley Book Festival, Keira Brown, said: “It’s great that Future Paisley have committed to funding the Paisley Book Festival. Having that level of commitment to reading, debate, learning and discussion in Renfrewshire is key to see a beneficial change in wellbeing, and reading development.”

Over the next few years, Future Paisley will continue to deliver exciting new cultural collaborations, events and programmes to celebrate Paisley’s unique stories, support local creative groups to grow and thrive through existing cultural funding programmes and create opportunities for everyone to benefit from all that culture has to offer.

Future Paisley investment will also supplement the town’s existing major events programme which already includes Paisley Halloween Festival – one of the biggest events of its kind in the UK.

The programme also complements the ongoing £100m investment in Paisley’s cultural venues and outdoor spaces, currently being overseen by Renfrewshire Council, and which includes the work to transform Paisley Museum into a world-class destination bringing new footfall to the town.

The support, commitment and investment by Future Paisley in the cultural and creative sector continues to build on the work of the town’s UK City of Culture 2021 bid.

To find out more about the events taking place in Renfrewshire please visit: www.paisley.is or www.renfrewshireleisure.com/whats-on/