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[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Plans to bring one of Paisley’s architectural treasures back to life have reached a major milestone with Renfrewshire Council officially taking ownership of the A-listed Russell Institute and signing up a long-term tenant.

Council bosses last week completed the transfer of title deeds for the former health centre from the NHS, having previously agreed to rent most of building to Skills Development Scotland.

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The council will now lead a £4.5m project to turn the iconic building – empty since 2011 and in need of major internal refurbishment – into modern office space.

It is expected that by summer 2016, SDS will move in as anchor tenants of the new training and employability hub, bringing around 80 new jobs into the town centre.

Staff from the council’s Invest in Renfrewshire scheme to tackle unemployment will also move into the revamped building.
The refurbishment work is being funded by the council, the Scottish Government’s Regeneration Capital Grant Fund and Historic Scotland.

The council will soon appoint a contractor for the restoration, which will see a number of employment opportunities for local residents.
Renfrewshire Council Leader Mark Macmillan was given a tour of the building this week after agreeing a heads of terms agreement which will see SDS lease part of the building for 10 years.

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Councillor Macmillan said: “The Russell Institute is one of the most magnificent pieces of architecture in a town centre which has no shortage of landmark buildings.

“Council staff have been working away for a couple of years now on a plan to bring it back into use and we are delighted that is now coming to fruition.

“A year ago we unveiled a set of ambitious proposals intended to use Paisley’s outstanding heritage and cultural assets to transform the area’s future.

“The progress on the Russell Institute is one of the first visible signs of that transformation on what will be an epic journey of regeneration for the town.”

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.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Russell Institute in paisley

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Russell Institute plans set for another step forward

Plans for a £5m refurbishment of one of Paisley’s finest buildings are about to take another step forward, with a team of experts set to be appointed to help lead the project.

The Category-A-listed Russell Institute is due to be brought back into use under plans being taken forward by Renfrewshire Council.

Russell Institute in paisley

The former health centre boasts some of Paisley’s finest architectural features but has been empty since 2011 and needs substantial work.

The NHS is willing to transfer ownership to the council, who are leading a project which aims to turn the building into modern office space by 2016.

Funding has already been offered by the Scottish Government and Historic Scotland towards the cost of the refurbishment.

Now, councillors have approved the award of a contract to a consultant and design team, to provide architectural and conservation expertise during the planned restoration work.

Renfrewshire Council Deputy Leader Michael Holmes, who chairs the council’s Procurement Sub Committee, has welcomed the latest development.

He said: “The project to restore the Russell Institute will be a complex one, which is why we are bringing in the expertise of specialist conservation architects.

“But if these plans – which could bring around 80 new office jobs into the town centre – come off, all the hard work will be worth it.

“Earlier this year we unveiled the Paisley Heritage Regeneration Strategy, which plans to use the town’s outstanding collection of heritage and cultural assets to help drive a transformation of the whole Renfrewshire area.

“The council is delighted to be leading a project to bring one of those assets back into use and preserve it for generations to come.”

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.[/vc_column_text][vc_separator icon=”star”][vc_column_text]For regular updates on local news and events follow @RenCouncilNews on Twitter or our page on Facebook at[/vc_column_text][vc_separator icon=”star”][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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£500k cash boost for Russell Institute project.

Plans to bring one of Paisley’s finest historic buildings back into use have received another boost after £500,000 was confirmed towards the costs of restoring the Russell Institute.

The Category A-listed former health centre in Causeyside Street – considered one of the town’s architectural treasures – is set to be turned into offices under a £4.5m restoration project led by Renfrewshire Council.

Last December saw the council secure a Scottish Government grant of £2m towards the cost – and Historic Scotland has now added half a million pounds to the pot through their building repair grant scheme.

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Under the restoration plans, ownership is set to transfer from the NHS to the council, who will lead a project to turn it into modern office space by 2017.

The plan is for the building to be used as a skills and employment hub – with Skills Development Scotland as the anchor tenant – which should bring around 80 new jobs to the town.

Renfrewshire Council Leader Mark Macmillan said: “The Russell Institute is one of Paisley’s most striking landmarks and a big part of the town’s history.

“A lot of hard work has gone in to get the project to this stage and we are delighted our plans to bring it back into use are now coming together.

“The council recently announced ambitious plans to use Paisley’s considerable heritage appeal to drive regeneration and tourism locally – and keeping buildings like the Russell in use complement that perfectly.

“Aside from that, this project will bring significant economic benefits, by creating new jobs and keeping existing ones in the town centre.”

Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs added: “I am pleased to announce this funding for the Russell Institute which will deliver considerable improvements to this important historic building.

“I am particularly pleased that this investment will see a building that currently lies unused given a now lease of life and play an active role again in the community.”

The project to restore the Russell Institute has included the Paisley Development Trust – a local group of volunteers dedicated to the regeneration of the town.

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.

Courtesy of Renfrewshire Council.

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Progress in the bid to restore the iconic Russell Institute building.

Bid to restore iconic building making progress

Renfrewshire Council is making progress in its efforts to bring one of Paisley’s architectural gems back to life.

The iconic Russell Institute building has been put up for sale by its owners, the NHS, but needs substantial work.

Renfrewshire Council has been working with the Paisley Development Trust, a group of local volunteers dedicated to the regeneration of the town, to find a tenant.

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An organisation has been lined up to move into the former health centre – but the deal is conditional on funding being secured to pay for the restoration work.

The council has applied for a Scottish Government regeneration grant to meet a chunk of the cost – and bosses will hear soon if they have been successful.

Renfrewshire Council Leader Mark Macmillan said: “The Russell Institute is an iconic site in the centre of Paisley but sadly it is in need of investment.

“We have an understanding with the NHS where – if we can help secure a tenant – the health service will dispose of the building.

“We are now waiting to hear whether the Scottish Government is willing to back the efforts of the community to bring this important building back into use.

“The council is determined to make use of the area’s superb architectural heritage – which has already been on show this month, having been commented on by many of the visitors we had for the Royal National Mòd.

“In terms of our wider efforts to make the most of the area’s built assets, this year has already seen Paisley Town Hall reopen after a major investment.

“We have also had the continuation of the Townscape Heritage Initiative, including public realm works in Causeyside Street and the restoration of Paisley Arts Centre.”

The Paisley Development Trust commissioned a feasibility study into the condition of the building, which formed the basis for the grant application.

Piero Pieraccini, the trust’s chair, added: “We would like to thank all the people who made a contribution to the funds for the feasibility study.

“We are delighted that there is a future for the building and hopefully we will be involved in that.”

The council is due to hear in November whether its stage-two application to the Scottish Government Regeneration Grant Fund has been successful. If not, other funding sources will be considered.

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.

Paisley (BattleTap) poster

Paisley Development Trust in partnership with the Paisley Thread Mill Museum Present

The Battle of Prestonpans Tapestry Exhibition (Please note this event has already happened in 2013)

The home of the thread industry in Scotland is on the map once again as the Atrium in the Anchor Finishing Mill (Anchor Mill) plays host to the world famous

Paisley (BattleTap) posterBattle of Prestonpans Tapestry 

Next week, from 27 April to 4 May, this amazing artwork and heritage resource which has been touring all over Europe, will be on display from 2 pm till 8 pm Monday to Friday and from 11 am till 4 pm each Saturday and Sunday. Admission is FREE (although donations to support the Prestonpans Tapestry and the Thread Mill Museum will be very welcome).

The Tapestry exhibition is part of Paisley Patter, an intergenerational project from the Paisley Development Trust funded by the Heritage Lottery (All Our Stories) being delivered in partnership with the Paisley Thread Mill Museum and the Battle of Prestonpans Tapestry.

Bringing the famous Tapestry to Paisley was the ambition of two of the founding members of the Thread Mill Museum, Eleanor McAllister and Ellen Farmer – both of whom have sadly passed away within a month of each other. The Paisley Development Trust is determined to ensure the project goes ahead exactly as they had planned.

“PDT is proud to be supporting the Thread Mill Museum at this difficult time” said Piero Pierachini, Chair, Paisley Development Trust.

The Paisley Patter Project is designed to bring the Museum to life as local “stitchers” (volunteers with some embroidery skills or with an interest in learning them) gather each Wednesday and Saturday afternoons (1 pm till 4 pm) to complete our very own panel: the Paisley panel for the Great Scottish Tapestry

The group meets in the Thread Mill Museum to share stories and memories of Paisley between the Wars that are then translated into images for the Tapestry. Anyone who is interested, who has family stories or memories of the 1930s or who is young and would like to learn about Paisley’s history from those who lived through it, is very welcome to come along and join us.

For further information about the Battle of Prestonpans Tapestry Exhibition, the Paisley Patter Project or to get involved contact: Marie Connolly on 07743 166098.

Click here for the tour dates poster. (PDF)

Saturday 7th July saw this year’s Sma’ Shot Day parade from Brodie Park to Abbey Close. 

This year the weather played a major part in the event – the night before the event the contractors who were tasked with setting up the many stalls outside Paisley Town Hall had major problems with the wind and had to construct two large marquees instead. The main parade was also hit by the weather when strong heavy rain tried to dampen spirits just before and during the parade but thankfully the parade and its participants all smiled and braved the rain.

Just as the parade started and was heading towards Neilston Road shops, Tony Lawler the Charleston Drummer hit straight through the side of the drum (which dates back to Napoleonic times) cutting his thumb in the process. The parade was temporarily halted but Tony was made of sterner stuff and the parade snaked its way down to Paisley Town Centre to lots of applause from those watching from the side.

The now traditional pint of lager at the Wellington was a welcome distraction for Tony and a welcome rest for the parade as it reached its half way point. As the parade hit Abbey close the crowds gave it a rapturous reception and the participants could relax.

From the pictures above, you can see the parade from start to finish as well as the excellent BMX Stunt Riders “The Clan”. The video below is the journey from Brodie Park to the end point in Abbey Close, you will notice the rain is a feature in almost all the images!

Russell Institute

The Paisley Development trust are holding an event in the Russell Institute on the 8th of September 2012 for Renfrewshire Doors Open Weekend.

The Russell Institute was donated to the then Paisley Burgh on the March 1927. Miss Agnes Russell had the building constructed as a memorial to her two bachelor brothers, Robert and Thomas Russell who had died in 1923 and 1920. The building was donated to the people of Paisley for the wellbeing of the woman and children in the area.

Over the years it has seen a family planning clinic, dentists, de-lousing chamber and has served many more other health related services. The health board currently have the building up for sale.  The Paisley Development trust hopes to take over the Russell Institute and use it as a community hub for the benefit of the people of Paisley

The Paisley Development Trust plan to celebrate to history of the building and the people who have worked and visited the building over the years.

Russell InstituteThe event is a 1920’s themed with different activities on the day. Currently we are at very early stages of planning but we have big plans for the event. Charleston dance classes, prohibition style cocktails, live jazz band, Opus Couture dress and shoe auction. We have many other ideas in the pipeline and would also like to hear from the people of Paisley what they would like to see happen on the day of the event and the future of building in years to come.

We are looking for volunteer researchers to look into the history of the building as well as the people who have worked there, as well as visited for health care. We also want to look into the future of the Russell Institute and new ideas of what how it can be used to benefit the people of Paisley.

We are looking for three generations of Renfrewshire to come along on the day and share their memories of the Russell Institute.  The memories will be recorded and documented into a video.  If you have memories of the Russell Institute then we would like to hear from you.

If you are interested in getting involved with the project then please send an email to You can also visit our Facebook page at


The Renfrewshire Witch Hunt 1697 (RWH1697) project started in August of last year with some initial research and has widened considerably. There will be a final large scale re-enactment drama piece playing through the town on 9th June 2012 and it is hoped this will become an annual event.

There is now a shop in the Paisley Centre where folk can pop in and take part in designing and making period costume either for the use of the actors or for their own use during the re-enactment drama. There are opportunities available to engage in activities such as costume making and design, it is totally free of charge and there are also volunteering opportunities available in the areas of acting, writing and behind the scenes activities.

Visitors will be able to find out more about the RWH1697 project and also the Paisley Development Trust’s plans for the Russell Institute building.
Buddies can expect to be better informed about the culture and heritage of our town and also participate in the plans to re-use the famous Paisley landmark at the bottom of New Street.

The RWT1697 shop is at the foot of the escalator to the left on the bottom floor (Causeyside Street), come in and see us and hear what we are all about.


The PDT invites all the people of Paisley to attend our annual wreath laying ceremony in remembrance of the 71 children that lost their lives in the Glen Cinema disaster of 1929. We will gather at the Cenotaph near The Cross at 10.30am on the 31st December. There will be a short service with prayers and thoughts from Bishop Tartalia, Reverend Alan Briss and from our Provost Celia Lawson, thereafter there will be some hot refreshments in the PDT office at the YMCA at the corner of High Street and New Street.

You can now get involved and volunteer to delve into Paisley’s dark and murky past, click the poster below to find out more information.