Sma Shots

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Sma’ Shot

This cottage is the only survivor of the original Shuttle Street which was built from 1735 to the early 1750s, and belongs to the world of the hand loom weavers.

It was built for Kerr and Pollock, a cloth manufacturer of Cork, in the early 1750s. The first direct reference to this Cottage is in a sasine of 1776, when it was one of the many properties bought by another man from Cork, Andrew Brown, after the failure of Kerr and Pollock. This failure was probably due to the collapse of the Bank of Ayr some three years earlier.

The early history of the cottage is linked with the Lawson family. David Lawson, journeyman weaver, and master with the incorporation of Old Weavers in Paisley, is the first known tenant, moving here around 1754. David Lawson lived here with his wife Mary Porter, their son Robert Lawson, his wife Lydia Lochhead, and Robert’s three daughters and his son Robert junior.

By 10th April 1758 he was in the position to take on an apprentice and John Aird duly entered by the incorporation. There were no house numbers then, but the occupants of the other cottages on this side are known and the sasine of 1776 names David Lawson and Archibald Munro, weavers, as the sitting tenants in what is now No. 14 Shuttle Street.

Meanwhile John Aird had been entered journeyman to David Lawson in 1765, and Robert had been apprenticed to his father on 1st November 1774.

In 1797, Robert bought the Cottage from Andrew Brown and Company. He had already bought a property of three steadings including an Inn at the foot of New Street. His parents, David Lawson and Mary Porter continued to live in Shuttle Street with Robert and his wife Lydia.

David Lawson was now described as a school master, his son Robert as a weaver, while his grandson, Robert Junior, made weavers’ reeds which were on sale at the inn.

Shortly after 1800 David Lawson died. Robert lived until about 1835 and Robert Junior to 1840. Robert Junior’s eldest sister, Mary, inherited all the properties, and lived with her husband in the New Street premises, which were made into a grocer’s shop. Mary leased the Shuttle Street cottage to a succession of Weavers.

Weaving only ceased here when in the late 1860′s Mary, who was now a widow, came to live in the Cottage herself. Living with her were her grocer son and her sisters. In 1877 she sold up and moved with her sisters to a more up-to-date tenement flat. Her son found a shop in the High Street. Thus a Lawson was the tenant or owner of this cottage for over 120 years.

A Q Lawson wove here for about 80 years, there were looms here for almost 110 years, and as you can see they have returned and are now restored and working on a part time basis. The purchase of the properties from Mary Lawson was completed in 1879 by Greenlees Bros…, and the 1887 census shows that they put in as tenant Alex L Jeffrey, a 50 year old house painter and his family. In 1886 the cottage came into the hands of the Hutchisons of the wool-scouring works in George Place, who opened up the door in the wall between the cottage and the Sma’ Shot Cottages. The land then sloped up from the Weavers Cottage to that door.

The Hutchisons already owned the Cottage next to the Weaver’s Cottage, but neither of them was used for the business. In 1890 the cottage was being rented by a potato merchant named Robert Logan who was succeeded in 1898 by William Forsyth. The occupier listed from 1913 was a Prudential Insurance Agent, William Hume, and there was another change of tenant during the gap in the records over the Great War period.

The succession of tenants continues with a cabinet maker, Andrew Robertson and his family who were in occupation from 1924 until at least 1946. By this time the widowed Mrs. Robertson lived in the loom shop having rented the room and kitchen to a Mr. & Mrs. Reid. It may have been Mrs. Robertson who installed a wooden dado around the loom shop walls to make the room more comfortable. It was during the removal of this dado as part of the restoration work in 1986, that the volunteers discovered the small second fireplace that would have been used by the weavers to hang their cans of loom dressing.

With the winding up of the Hutchison’s business in 1954, the properties were split up and sold separately. The George Place buildings, now the Sma’ Shot Cottages, were bought by a property company, allowing the sitting tenants to continue their occupancy. The Shuttle Street Weavers Cottage was purchased by the ironmongers, Lochhead and Carnduff, who used it for storage. For some time the George Place residents used the yard behind the Weavers Cottage as their drying green, until the ironmongers decided to level the ground and block the communicating door. By the 1970′s the Shuttle Street Cottage was disused.

To save it from demolition a small group of Old Paisley Society Members formed a Trust and purchased it for £10,000. This sum was subsequently raised by the Society and its many supporters, enabling the Trust Members to be repaid. A great deal of work, much of it done by the members themselves, was necessary to restore the cottage. For example, the roof is an almost complete replacement, it was probably thatched originally.

We believe this is the oldest secular building in Paisley, apart from the much grander Place of Paisley and the almost totally rebuilt Black Hall Manor. (Information taken from the Old Paisley Society newsletter)

The Old Paisley Society was formed in 1977. Open to the public on Wed and Sat 1 to 5 pm Tel: 0141 889 1708 11/17 George Place Paisley

Short Documentary on Sma’ Shot


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