Bring It All Home at Paisley Museum.

Paisley Museum welcomed over 70 guests on Thursday night to mark the opening of the exhibition ‘Bring It All Home – Celebrating the music and art of Gerry Rafferty and John Byrne‘. Special guests included Martha Rafferty, daughter of Gerry Rafferty, John Byrne and Rab Noakes. Councillor Jim Harte officially opened the exhibition, which runs until 18 May. Admission to the exhibition is free.

2nd pic (l-r) Mhairi Cross, (Arts and Museums Manager), Provost Anne Hall, Councillor Jim Harte, Martha Rafferty, John Byrne, Andrea Kusel (Curator of Art at Paisley Museum)

Courtesy of Renfrewshire Arts.

rafferty

Gerry Rafferty exhibition set to open its doors.

A unique exhibition showcasing the life and work of one of Scotland’s greatest-ever songwriters – Gerry Rafferty – is opening its doors in his home town of Paisley.

Bring it all Home: The Exhibition will feature items from Gerry’s career – from gold discs and guitars to hand-written lyrics to his biggest hits.

The exhibition is expected to attract interest from around the UK and abroad, given the worldwide fanbase of the man best-known for iconic songs such as Baker Street and Stuck in the Middle With You.

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Many of the personal artefacts have been loaned to Paisley Museum by Gerry’s daughter Martha, who helped curate the exhibition in her father’s memory.

Also on show will be original artwork from Gerry’s close friend and fellow Paisley Buddie John Byrne, who designed many of his album covers – while work by the artist from Renfrewshire Council’s own collection will also feature.

The free-to-enter exhibition will run at Paisley Museum from 7 March until 18 May and will coincide with an eight-day music festival in the town in April inspired by Gerry’s legacy.

Martha Rafferty said: “My father’s home town meant a huge deal to him and helped inspire a lot of his work, so it is fitting to be able to hold this event here in Paisley.

“There remains a huge deal of interest in his music from his fanbase throughout the UK and abroad – and I hope they will find plenty to interest them in the exhibition.”

Bring it all Home is being organised and promoted by Renfrewshire Council and is taking place as part of Scotland’s Year of the Homecoming 2014.

Renfrewshire Council Leader Mark Macmillan added: “Bring it all Home is a celebration of the life and work of one of Paisley’s best-loved sons.

“We are delighted to be able to host the exhibition and festival and are ready to welcome the visitors we expect them to attract. We would also like to thank Martha Rafferty and John Byrne for their generous contribution to the event.”

Bring it all Home: The Festival takes place from 11 to 19 April and includes a star-studded celebration of Gerry’s music featuring Martha and many of his friends from the music world, such as Rab Noakes, Barbara Dickson and Eddi Reader.

The gig – due to take place in Paisley Town Hall on Wednesday 16 April – sold out within three hours of going on sale last month.

The festival will also include appearances from Hamish Stuart (Average White Band), Midge Ure, James Grant, Karine Polwart and Kathryn Williams as well as an international concert and a series of free songwriting masterclasses.

For more information and tickets, visit www.bringitallhome.co.uk

Bring it all Home is supported by Renfrewshire Council, Homecoming Scotland, Creative Scotland, and the Rafferty family.

All photographs above were taken for Paisley.org.uk by Alex Slaven Photography.

The Great Antiques Map of Britain.

The Great Antiques Map of Britain is a new BBC series that is coming to your area. And they are looking for people to take part! Do you have an item from the local area with an interesting story; do you ever wonder if it might be worth something?

Tim Wonnacott embarks on a nationwide journey to discover the people, the places, the antiquities and the collectables that tell the story of Great Britain.

Britain is famed around the world for the quantity and quality and variety of its arts, crafts, collectables and antiquities. In this series, Tim Wonnacott sets out in his ‘Valuation Station’– an Airstream doubling as an antiques valuation centre – to visit the hotspots of British arts and antiques, from large festivals to local markets.

In each episode Tim rolls up into a specific city, town or village: each with a rich heritage in antiquities. From Glasgow with its Clutha Glass, to Bristol Fry’s Chocolate and Worcester’s Royal Porcelain. Each location provides a wealth of historical take out as Tim visits key sites and locations.

But while he’s there he’s also got some extra work to do. Pitching up his Valuation Station, Tim will throw down the challenge to the locals to bring him their precious family heirlooms and antiques for an expert opinion and appraisal. It’s their chance to show and tell. Will it be “Trash or Treasure Time”?  Will any of the items have a life-changing value for the owners? And will Tim find any fabulous survivors of the region’s antique heritage amongst the offerings?

 

These journeys he will take us through the process of the creation of the artworks and antiquities revealing the fascinating human, industrial and social history of Britain.

An amusing and revealing gallivant around Britain’s antiques and art hotspots, “The Great Antiques Map of Britain ” tells the history of the United Kingdom, through its renowned artistic heritage and the people and places who gave birth to it.

To contact the research team on The Great Antiques Map of Britain call: 0117 9742369 or email Great.Antiquesmap@bbc.co.uk

Paisley Museum

Paisley Natural History Society evening talks.

Paisley Natural History Society is continuing it spring programme of evening talks with an illustrated talk by Anthony McCluskey, Outreach Officer for the Bumblebee Conservation Trust, on Thursday 6 March at 7.30pm at Paisley Museum.

Bumblebees are essential pollinators of many wild flowers and crops, but their numbers are declining. Anthony will talk about the life cycle of the bumblebee, reasons for their decline and what we can do to help this furry and charismatic little insect.

This talk is free and open to everyone, just come along. Website Link.

Paisley Museum

Information about Paisley Natural History society

Paisley Natural History society was formed in the early 1970’s by local naturalists and is still going strong. The aims of the society are simple:
1. To encourage the study of natural history in Renfrewshire, East Renfrewshire and Inverclyde.
2. To support the conservation of wildlife and habitats; and
3. To maintain links with the Natural History department of Paisley Museum.

Regular indoor meetings are held in Paisley Museum on Thursday evenings during the winter months covering a variety of natural history topics from butterflies and birds to fungi and fossils and outings are organised during the summer months visiting sites throughout Scotland.

You don’t need to be a member to come along to the talks, they are open to anyone with an interest in natural history.

Copies of the winter talks programme can be obtained from Paisley Museum and the talks are also listed on the Renfrewshire Council website.

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Historical Property Records Go Online.

The Valuation Rolls of 1885 offer genealogists and other history researchers a fascinating picture of Victorian Scottish society, including figures ranging from William McGonagall to Dr Sophia Jex-Blake

Property records containing the names and addresses of more than 1.4 million people living in Scotland in 1885 has been released on ScotlandsPeople.gov.uk, the government’s family history website.

Called Valuation Rolls, the new records comprise over 77,000 digital images taken from 144 volumes, and cover every type of property which was assessed as having a rateable value in 1885. As the records include details of owners, tenants and occupiers of property, they offer historians and genealogists an excellent online resource for researching Scottish society in the late Victorian age.

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Visitors to the website will be able to search the 1885 Valuation Rolls by name and address, with the records listing the names of owners, tenants and occupiers of each property – in many cases occupations are also included. Since the Rolls list every type of rateable property in Scotland, these new records include people from all the social classes.

Some famous episodes in Scottish history can be traced using the Rolls. As the 1880s witnessed mass protests by crofters in the Highlands and Islands, ScotlandsPeople researchers looked at Rolls that contain the names and addresses of people who were imprisoned following the ‘Battle of the Braes’ on Skye in 1883.

Dr Sophia Jex-Blake, one of the first female medical students of Edinburgh University, was running her pioneering medical practice in Bruntsfield, Edinburgh, for the benefit of women and children, and the Rolls reveal that she owned the house in Grove Street that was rented by her out-patient clinic, the Edinburgh Provident Dispensary for Women and Children.

Elsewhere in the Capital tenants were moving into Well Court in the Dean Village, a new housing development for the working class paid for by John Ritchie Findlay, proprietor of The Scotsman. Meanwhile his more famous project of the Scottish National Portrait Gallery in Queen Street was still under construction, and was valued at only £40.

Perhaps the only person who is listed in the Rolls as a ‘poet’ is William McGonagall, living in humble rented accommodation in Dundee, where he eked out a precarious livelihood performing his work and working as a weaver. Elsewhere in the town William Arrol, the famous engineer, was supervising the building of the replacement Tay Bridge, following the destruction of the first bridge in 1879. He had moved temporarily from Glasgow during the contract.

Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs in the Scottish Government, said:

“ScotlandsPeople is a superb digital resource for those who to wish explore their family pasts, both for Scots who live here now and for those whose ancestors left Scotland as part of the Diaspora. I hope that researching these new online records will inspire people to visit Scotland to see the places where their ancestors lived and worked, making their own journey of discovery in this year of Homecoming.”

Tim Ellis, Registrar General and Keeper of the Records of Scotland, said:

“The Valuation Rolls of 1885 are a wonderful quarry for people wanting to find out more about the lives and homes of their Victorian ancestors – or for those who are interested in the rich stories and characters of that period. The National Records of Scotland is committed to continuously improving and enhancing its services, and I’m delighted that we’ve now been able to make these fascinating records available online through our ScotlandsPeople website.”

Annelies van den Belt, the CEO of DC Thomson Family History, who enable the ScotlandsPeople website on behalf of the National Records of Scotland, said:

“We’re extremely pleased to add this new set of historical property records to the ScotlandsPeople website. We’ve now released five sets of Valuation Rolls, covering the years 1885, 1895, 1905, 1915 and 1920. With this new release we’ve again chosen a mid-point between censuses, as we believe this will help family historians to find out more about those ancestors who moved address and/or changed jobs between census years.”

The 1885 Valuation Rolls will be available on the ScotlandsPeople website, at the ScotlandsPeople Centre in Edinburgh, and at local family history centres in Glasgow, Kilmarnock, Hawick and Inverness.

Houston Born Sir William Arrol (1839-1913), the engineer who built the replacement Tay Bridge and the Forth Bridge.

William Arrol was an engineer and leading railway contractor. He was born on 13 February 1839 in Houston (Renfrewshire), the son of a spinner. He started work in a cotton mill at the age of only 9, but by 1863 had joined a company of bridge manufacturers in Glasgow. By 1872 he had his own business, the Dalmarnock Iron Works in the east end of the city.

William Arrol was the contractor responsible for building the Forth Rail Bridge (1890) and the replacement Tay Rail Bridge (1887), which were the two most substantial bridges in the world of their time and remain in constant use today. He was also responsible for Tower Bridge in London (1894), bridges over the Nile at Cairo (1908) and multi-span bridges over the River Clyde at Bothwell and the River South Esk at Montrose. His company also built the Bankside Power Station in London, which now forms the Tate Modern Art Gallery.

A search of the 1885 Valuation Rolls for William Arrol returns 10 results, highlighting the extent of his property and business portfolio in Glasgow and Dundee. The Dundee entries are especially interesting, given that Arrol was the engineer who planned the building of the replacement bridge over the Tay. So, in 1885, Arrol was in the middle of the 4-year project to build the new Tay Bridge.

In the first Valuation Roll entry (VR/98/55/174) for Arrol in Dundee, we find him listed as a tenant on ground at Tay Bridge Station owned by the North British Railway Company. The entry also includes the address of 47 Magdalene Green, which would appear to be where the site office for the new Tay Bridge project was based.

In the second Valuation Roll entry (VR/98/55/223), Arroll is listed as a tenant of a dwelling house at 24 Strawberry Bank. As Strawberry Bank is a side-street on the Perth Road that leads straight down to the Tay Bridge area, this would most likely have been Arrol’s main residence in Dundee during this time. So not only do we discover Arrol between censuses in 1885, but we also find him working on his project to build one of the world’s most famous bridges.

 

Valuation Roll entry for William Arrol in Dundee – VR/98/55/174

Valuation Roll entry for William Arrol in Dundee – VR/98/55/223

Line drawing of William Arrol (if using this photo, please include a courtesy and copyright notice for The British Newspaper Archive)
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Artwork helps put Grand Fountain in the picture.

Paisley’s under-repair Grand Fountain is being put in the picture by community artwork inspired by the project to restore the spectacular A-listed structure to its former glory.

The intricate cast-iron fountain – the centrepiece of the town’s Fountain Gardens – was dismantled and taken away for restoration last year as part of a year-long project to bring it back to life.

The structure – which dates back to 1868 – will be brought back on site and reassembled over the next few months and restored to full working order by the summer.

Alex Slaven 3

And the fencing round the fountain site has been brightened up by artwork themed around the structure’s shape and history, produced by members of a nearby community group.

The STAR Project is based in Wallace Street and offers a wide range of support services – such as counselling and befriending – to residents in the north of Paisley.

The artwork was unveiled at a ceremony attended by local ward councillors, and members of the STAR Project and the Friends of the Fountain Gardens Group, as well as council staff.

Councillor Terry Kelly, convener of the council’s Planning and Property Policy Board, was at the unveiling and said: “Paisley has a built heritage to be proud of and the fountain restoration project will see one of our architectural gems preserved for future generations.

“Having been gifted to the people of the town by the Coats family almost 150 years ago, the fountain still stands as a living reminder of the town’s proud thread-making past.

“One of the great things about this type of project is the opportunity it provides for members of the community to get involved, and learn more about their own town’s history.

“The STAR Project’s members have produced some bright and eye-catching designs and I am glad we were able to put them on display in the park for the public to see.”

The £650,000 Grand Fountain: Interpretation and Restoration Project is being funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, Historic Scotland and Renfrewshire Council.

The next stage of the work will see a state-of-the-art underground pumping system installed to allow the fountain to work again.

The year-long restoration project has featured other community work including an ironworks seminar and an ongoing filming project with UWS.

The eight-metre-high fountain is recognised by Historic Scotland as being of national importance and is the only one of its kind, distinctive for its intricate detail and statues.

Courtesy Renfrewshire Council.

Paisley Thread Mill Museum.

Following a recent award from the Weir Trust, we are now open all year around on Wednesday and Saturdays from 12-4pm.  Visitors can be taken around the museum’s displays by one of our volunteer guides, some of whom are former mill workers and enjoy a cup of tea or coffee.

We currently run a stitching group on the days we are open to stitch two panels about Paisley for the Scottish Diaspora project, designed to celebrate the Scottish influence around the world as part of the 2014 Year of Homecoming http://www.scottishdiasporatapestry.org/index

New volunteers are always welcome, especially if you have a personal connection to the Mills or practicals skills that can help us maintain the museum and our displays.   If anyone is interested in volunteering, please drop in when we are open or contact us via our website, Facebook or twitter.

thread-mill

 

Ambitious plans to transform Paisley’s future revealed.

Paisley could be in line for a multi-million pound transformation after an ambitious and far-reaching masterplan for the town’s future was unveiled.

Councillors will next week discuss the contents of a detailed strategy aimed at using the town’s considerable heritage assets to maximise its tourist potential in the years ahead.

The report describes Paisley’s heritage offerings – including more than 100 listed buildings, rare books and paintings, and the finest Paisley Shawl collection in the world – as being of ‘international interest and significance’.

It is estimated the proposed developments could increase Paisley’s tourist economy performance by £45m a year, and create around 800 new jobs for the area.

If delivered, Paisley would then be in a position to bid for UK City of Culture status in 2021.

That would include further use of the town centre as a host venue for events – such as the Monte Carlo Classic Car Rally, which is set to attract a crowd of thousands to the town tonight (Thursday 23 January).

The Paisley Town Centre Heritage Strategy was written after the council commissioned a team of experts to consider how the town’s rich history could be used to drive its long-term regeneration.

Key recommendations in the strategy include:

– a multi-million-pound revamp of Paisley Museum to create a nationally-recognised Museum of Textiles, Fashion, Costume and Design;

– a study into possible new theatre space in the town, as well as further development at key tourist sites including Paisley Town Hall and the Coats Observatory;

– the creation of a Paisley Fashion and Design Centre, amid other improvements to the town centre to improve the visitor experience;

– work to investigate whether Paisley’s industrial legacy could be recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The report also recommends work to ‘tell the story’ of Paisley to visitors and develop a programme of cultural activity around existing assets, which takes in a thriving arts and cultural scene, including the UK’s largest youth theatre.

Initial estimates put the scale of investment suggested by the report at £90m.

Should the town bid for UK City of Culture status – which is open to large towns and urban areas – Paisley would be attempting to follow in the footsteps of Derry-Londonderry, Hull and Dundee, all of which have successfully pursued heritage-led regeneration strategies in recent years.

Members of the Economy and Jobs Policy Board are due to consider several recommendations relating to the report.

If approved, council officers will start work on a series of business cases to determine the costs and feasibility of the recommendations, and identify possible routes for external funding.

Renfrewshire Council Leader Mark Macmillan said: “This report is the culmination of months of work to determine how Paisley could best use its rich heritage to build a better future for the area.

“It was written after extensive consultation with a wide range of groups, locally and elsewhere.

“It shows that Paisley offers a tremendous range of valuable and unique cultural attractions and suggests how – with the right investment – we could use that to transform our future.

“We already have lots of good work going on – such as last year’s £2.4m revamp of Paisley Town Hall, the £2m secured to transform the Russell Institute and development starting on the Arnotts site in the town centre, as well the continued success of our growing events portfolio – but we don’t want to stop there.

“These plans are a bold statement of where we want to be, and we shouldn’t be afraid to think big.

“I want the area’s future to be one where it reaches its full potential and we should explore all options to make that happen.

“Of course, the benefits would not be restricted to Paisley – the study’s findings show that investment in Paisley’s existing assets would bring a significant economic boost to all of Renfrewshire.

“As it stands, things are at a very early stage. Should this initial approach be approved, detailed proposals will be developed for councillors to consider at a later date.”

The Board will meet to discuss the plans on Wednesday 29 January.

Photographs and article courtesy of Renfrewshire Council.

Coats Observatory Acquires Commemoration Medal.

Coats Observatory has recently acquired a medal which was struck to commemorate the opening of Coats Observatory in 1883. Only a few of these medals were made and were given out to local dignitaries that attended the opening ceremony. This is the first medal of its kind to be displayed in the Observatory. 

The medal was acquired from a medal dealer in America, so Renfrewshire Arts & Museums are delighted to ‘repatriate’ a piece of Paisley’s history back to its home town. 

A grand ceremony had been planned to mark the opening of Coats Observatory, but in the end this had to be scaled down due to Thomas Coat’s deteriorating health. Although he had paid for the building, he only managed to visit the completed building once, and died only 2 weeks after the Observatory had opened.

Coats observatory is only one of 5 public observatories in the UK.

For further information on Paisley Museum, future events and exhibitions log onto www.renfrewshire.gov.uk/events or follow us onwww.facebook.com/renfrewshirearts or www.twitter.com/RenArtsMuseums.

The Marriage of a Lion-tamer and a Poet.

Historical Birth, Marriage and Death Records Go Online

Scottish records of births from 1913, marriages from 1938 and deaths from 1963 are now online.

Almost 222,000 images of birth, marriage and death records will be made available to family history researchers, including those of well-known people and unusual stories.

There were 38,716 marriages in 1938, including that between German circus performer and lion tamer Alfred Kaden, then 35, and Vera Hüsing (née Lüdtke), 25, the poet daughter of a German landowner. At the time a Glasgow newspaper described Hüsing as “vivacious, flaxen-haired and handsome” and said she had “won distinction by her poems and songs.”

The records show that in 1938, the average age for women to be married was 26.7 and for men was 29.7. In 2012, the average age for women was 34.8 and for men was 37.2, and there were 30,534 marriages.

In 1913 the population was 4,73 million and there were 120,516 births. By contrast, in 2012 there were 58,027 births and a total population of 5.31 million people.

The records also show the change in babies names over the past century. In 1913 only three baby girls were named Sophie, whereas 580 girls were registered with the name in 2012. Likewise, while in 1913 only three boys were called Jack, over 500 boys were named Jack in 2012. In 1913, the most popular names for baby girls were Mary, Annie and Agnes, and John, James, Robert and William for boys.

The newly-released images include entries for 65,521 deaths in 1963, which compares to 54,937 in 2012. The life expectancy of Scots has risen during the last 50 years, as the growing number of  growing number of centenarians shows. In 1963, only 28 people died at or over the age of 100, but in 2012 the equivalent figure was 389, or almost 14 times as many people, and well ahead of the increase in Scotland’s population.

Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs Fiona Hyslop said:

“These new images, and the stories they tell about Scotland’s history, demonstrate the rich variety of information we have in our records.

“The new images of records being made available to the public from tomorrow (1st JANUARY 2014) represent a new chapter of Scotland’s story now available to the public. I’d urge anyone who is interested in finding out more about their history, or that of their family or the place where they live, to have a look at the wealth of records now available as part of our wonderful online resources.”

Tim Ellis, Registrar General and Keeper of the Records of Scotland, said:

“The records that National Records of Scotland holds are crammed full of fascinating stories about Scotland’s people and history, and I know that people will find the latest additions to our online resources very useful for family history and other research. If someone out there recognises the story of the lion-tamer and the poet, we would delighted to learn what became of them.”

Annelies van den Belt, Chief Executive of DC Thomson Family History, who enable the ScotlandsPeople website for National Records of Scotland, said:

“We always enjoy the colourful personal stories that are revealed when the images for the statutory births, marriages and deaths records are added to the ScotlandsPeople website. In particular, we loved the story about the German poetess who married a lion tamer in Glasgow in January 1938.

“We also enjoyed finding out about the society weddings that took place the same year. We think many other fascinating stories will emerge when people start viewing these records.”

DSC_0507 - Mirren Porteous - WMT

Gathering Threads – A Celebration

‘Paisley was the mills and the mills were Paisley’ *

Thanks to the generosity of Mr Marcus Dean, the Anchor Mill Atrium appropriately hosted 200 enthusiastic Renfrewshire school children – a credit to their schools – to celebrate the publication of their ‘Gathering Threads’ anthology.

The school children have been working with local poets: Mo Blake, Kathryn Daly and Tracy Patrick, learning about their local mill heritage, increasing their writing skills, visiting the Paisley Thread Mill Museum, interviewing past mill workers and recording their impressions in poetry, drama and art. Their wonderful writing is published in the ‘Gathering Threads’ anthology. The cover images and internal artwork are the winning pieces from the project’s art competition, judged by the Convenor of Education, Cllr Jacqueline Henry, Margaret Burleigh of the Paisley Thread Mill Museum committee and Caroline Watson, local artist and committee member of Weaving Musical Threads. The ‘Gathering Threads’ project was supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, All Our Stories fund, Renfrewshire Council Education Department and the arts association, Weaving Musical Threads. The All Our Stories fund was launched last year to support and enable people to explore, share and celebrate their local heritage and the Gathering Threads project was one of the first in the UK to receive a Heritage Lottery Fund All Our Stories grant.

At the start of the ‘Gathering Threads’ project, local poet and workshop leader, Tracy Patrick said; “It’s a fabulous opportunity to explore the history of Paisley’s Thread Mills. There are so many stories to discover, spanning generations of people who worked in the mills and we’re especially thrilled that young people in Renfrewshire will now have the opportunity to engage creatively with that history and preserve it for future generations.”

The celebration in the historic Anchor Mill was a joy to be part of. A selection of the pupils from the Renfrewshire schools that took part in the project: Gallowhill Primary, Glencoats Primary, St. John Ogilvie Primary, St. Mary’s Primary, West Primary, Williamsburgh Primary and Paisley Grammar School, recited their poetry and drama in the Atrium.  Margaret Muir spoke on behalf of the Thread Mill Museum and Cllr Jacqueline Henry – whose own mother worked in the mills, in fact in Anchor Mill itself, and clearly remembers those busy days of Paisley’s industrial heritage – spoke on behalf of Renfrewshire Council Education Department. Every child was presented with a copy of their ‘Gathering Threads’ anthology and a Certificate of Achievement for participation in this very valuable and most enjoyable project.

Further copies of the ‘Gathering Threads’ anthology will be available from the Paisley Thread Mill Museum – which, with added volunteer assistance, for the first time will be able to be open during the winter months every Wednesday and Saturday from 12noon to 4pm.

Photographs are thanks to Weaving Musical Threads and to Brian McGuire and Ian McDonald of paisley.org.uk
*Margaret McFadden in ‘Mill Memories’ by Evelyn Hood

Old Paisley  

Old Paisley’s women working hard

Making Paisley Proud.

The men getting the easier jobs

And getting more money than the lassies.

The lassies only getting 65 pence a week.

“Nae mare!” they all said.

Thousands of Paisley Mill lassies marching

Oot the gates of old Paisley Mills shouting,

“Come on ladies let’s get a fair pay equal to the lads!”

Then old Paisley’s mills

were working once again in Old Paisley.

 

by Mirren Porteous

formerly of West Primary School, now S1 pupil at Castlehead Secondary School

Scottish_Gaelic - HLF logo portrait

 

£2m boost for plans to restore Russell Institute.

Plans to restore one of Paisley’s architectural treasures to its former glory are taking a giant leap forward after Renfrewshire Council secured a £2million funding windfall.

The Russell Institute is one of the town’s most striking landmarks – but the former health centre is lying empty and needs work to be brought back into use.

The council has been working with NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde on a plan to save the building, with the health board having gifted the Institute for the good of the community.

An organisation has been lined up to move in if funding to help pay for the revamp could be secured.

And a £2m application to the Scottish Government’s Regeneration Capital Grant Fund has now been given the green light.

Work to make the 1,750 sq m interior of the building suitable for modern office use is expected to take around two years, and could begin in summer 2014.

Renfrewshire Council Leader Mark Macmillan said: “Paisley’s stunning architectural heritage is one of the greatest features of the town.

“The Russell Institute is a magnificent building and a recognisable town centre landmark, and we are delighted to be able to help bring it back into use.

“This project will also bring significant economic and social benefits, by creating new jobs and allowing us to keep existing ones in the town centre, in addition to the jobs created during construction.

“This is just the latest stage in our continuing effort to make the best of the area’s built heritage, including the major revamp of Paisley Town Hall earlier this year.

“Plus, the £3.5m Townscape Heritage Initiative has seen major improvements to the Causeyside Street area, including restoration work on the Arts Centre.”

The council has been working with the Paisley Development Trust – a local group of volunteers dedicated to the regeneration of the town.

They initially commissioned a feasibility study into the building, which formed the basis for the grant application.

The trust’s chair Piero Pieraccini said: “This is fantastic news for the town and I am delighted to hear this money has been secured.

“This is a fantastic building which could have been left empty but this money will allow it to be brought back to life.”

The Category A-listed Russell Institute sits on the corner of New Street and Causeyside Street and was opened in 1927.

It was gifted to Paisley Burgh by Miss Agnes Russell, who wanted it to be used as a child welfare clinic as a memorial to her two brothers.

The building is notable for the distinctive bronze and stone sculptures on the exterior walls, and was used as a health centre until it closed in 2011.

Find out more by visiting the Paisley Development Trust Website.