Coats Memorial

Two representatives from met with a key member of Thomas Coats Memorial Church on Thursday and we (as we announced on a reply to a post yesterday) can announce that the Baptist Church building will not close its doors, the board members of Coats Memorial are seeking other ways to keep the building open, I know they had some discussions with the council which I will put out a press release on the website in the coming days.


But with’s help and other key partners, we will work hard to ensure one of Paisley’s most iconic buildings stays open and I will also announce plans which we aim to help the Church board in keeping the doors open.

We need to ensure we keep our existing cultural, historic and rich heritage alive, not only that we need to restore buildings like the TA hall the Ferguslie Half Timers school and many more.

We do a lot at behind the scenes, quite a lot people don’t hear about, we don’t go shouting from the rooftops about our achievements but maybe we should so people know what a bunch of like minded people who have Paisley in their heart and minds can achieve and do, all with the aim to promote a Positive Paisley.

Remember we are not the council nor do any of us get paid, we do this because we want to make Paisley a better place to live, work and raise your family in. #PositivePaisley #Paisley2021

Photograph courtesy of Tom Caddell.

jordan half timers

[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]Renfrewshire Environmental And Restoration Group (R.E.R.G) and members of the Community are battling to save one of Paisley’s Historic Buildings – The Ferguslie Mills Half Time School, A building which is B Listed and in its day was one of the most impressive pieces of architecture in the World but now lays with scaffolding holding it up.

jordan half timers

This Building has been left to decay and rot since a fire savaged through the Building in 1997, before this it was a Gem in Paisley’s Crown of Historic Building with many uses over the years from Education the Mill Lassies, A canteen for the Mill Workers to most recently a Social Club. It’s Fine architecture and style was created by Woodhouse and Morley, Who also designed the No 1 Spinning Mill, In 1983 the Half Time School was described by the Organisation ‘Save Britain’s Heritage’ Their Best Work surviving though this is no longer the case !  Many Developers have promised to Develop the site but these promises have never came true and its time we step in and take action to Save our Heritage before it’s lost forever – These  Buildings cannot be replaced once they have gone.

The Organisation is proposing a Buy Out of the site to restore the Building back to its former glory and giving it a new uses, in order to Save what is one of the few remaining Buildings left of the Ferguslie Mills Site. This Building has been part of a Long Saga of false promises by Developers and those promising action which has never been forthcoming and now the building lies in a State of ruins with no restoration insight from these Developers.

jordan half timers

Project Manager Jordan McPhail told the website: “This B Listed building has been allowed to decay for 17 years ago and we want to save it before it’s too late and there’s nothing left to save.

“Many developers have said they’ll do something positive with the site but nothing has happened and it’s now time for the community to step in and take action.

“We must save our heritage before it’s lost forever.

“Buildings like the Half-Time School can’t be replaced once they are gone, this is one of only a handful of examples in Scotland. It is believed to be the only purpose built Half Time School

“What we are proposing is to raise enough money to buy the building and the land and then return it to its former glory, with new uses.”

The Buy Out  will secure the Buildings future and be a real boost the Local Area, Creating Jobs and Apprenticeships. The Building will be Multi Use and Will be a great asset to the People of Paisley and Renfrewshire once restored. Currently we urgently need support from the People Of Paisley to carry out such a task and save it – As it may not last another winter being exposed to the elements. If you are interested in getting involved please contact us via Facebook or email us at [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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 or follow us or

£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.

fountain gardens

Grand Fountain – Scottish Ironwork Seminar.

As part of the Grand Fountain: ‘Interpretation and Restoration’ project, a Scottish Ironwork Seminar, focussing on the Grand Fountain in Paisley and the Sun Foundry, Glasgow, is to be held on Tuesday 29th October in Paisley Town Hall.

The Grand Fountain project is funded by Historic Scotland, the Heritage Lottery Fund and Renfrewshire Council and will see the A listed cast iron fountain at the centre of Fountain Gardens, Paisley, restored to full working order by summer 2014.

fountain gardens

The seminar will provide information on the current restoration project and explain the architectural and historical context of the Grand Fountain.

The full programme is attached here:

Places at this event are free, but spaces are limited so must be reserved by contacting the project officer on 0141 618 4844 or emailing

Area gets set for Sma’ Shot Day

The countdown is on to one of the biggest events in Renfrewshire’s summer calendar when Sma’ Shot Day takes place on Saturday 6 July.

The popular annual event – one of the oldest workers’ festivals in the world – will run from noon until 5pm in its usual location at Abbey Close.

Tony Lawler with Depute Provost John Caldwell

The fun begins at noon when the parade, headed by the beat of the Charleston Drum, sets off from Brodie Park.

Attractions include funfair rides at Abbey Close and Paisley Cross, a stage hosted by Pulse FM, plus bouncy castle, craft market, a mini-farm and charity stalls.

The day will culminate with the spectacular Burning of the Cork at 5pm.

Elsewhere, older folks can step away from the crowds at a tea dance in Paisley Town Hall at 1pm, with free tickets available from the town hall.

And in keeping with the event’s roots as a celebration of the local textile workers’ victory over the 19th-century mill owners, Central Library will be hosting a display and film of the life of celebrated Paisley-born trade unionist Willie Gallacher.

Renfrewshire’s Depute Provost John Caldwell said: “Sma’ Shot Day is great tradition which celebrates an important episode in the town’s history.

“It is always a popular day for families, with plenty to entertain grown-ups and families alike, and I would encourage locals to get themselves along.”

Meanwhile, the man charged with drumming up a following for the event is hoping to stay injury-free this year.

Paisley man Tony Lawler is preparing for his 21st year beating the drum at the head of the parade.

He was at the centre of a brief drama last year when his enthusiastic drumming left him with a badly-cut hand – promptly bandaged by Provost Anne Hall, an ex-nurse.

Tony said: “I’m sure it will be great day, although I hope to avoid any injury this year!

“This will be the first Sma’ Shot Day I have done since being made a Freeman of Renfrewshire earlier this year, which means a lot to me.”

Tony Lawler with Depute Provost John Caldwell

Sma Shot Day celebrates the victory of Paisley’s weavers over the town’s mill owners in the 19th century.

The owners refused to pay their staff for the Sma’ (small) Shot thread which was unseen but held together the famous Paisley-patterned cashmere shawls.

A long fight and political battle ensued which the weavers eventually won and renamed the traditional July holiday Sma Shot Day.

Residents are reminded that parking is free in all council-metered bays on Saturdays and Sundays.

Paisley’s Future!!

The other day I posted a picture of Paisley High Street. It was immediately met with negative comments about how empty the High Street looked, however in reality the hustle and bustle of shoppers and people out enjoying a rare sunny day in town was much more the case. It got me thinking, we look back at days gone by when in our memories the High Street was a bustling shopping heaven, so what has changed and how can we get back to that happy place again?

Renfrewshires provost charity abseil

Well things will never be the same as they were, there are various reasons for this; the financial climate is probably the biggest one overshadowing not only Paisley but every shopping heartland in the country. With the banks restricting lending to small business and new start up traders what hope is there for changing the shops from ‘To Let’ to ‘Shop Here’?  In addition, so called private landlords with empty properties not being renovated or marketed properly is another challenge, some of the landlords and developers really should hang their heads in shame. Something should be done to make them lease the shops at a fair price and be fully supported financially by local government. Pop up shops, seasonal shops etc could temporarily fill the void.

We all have our own thoughts on what has gone wrong; bad town planning, out of town shopping centres and a change of trends, i.e. more internet shopping.

Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s great when people show passion for the town although sometimes it can come across negatively, but in the vast majority of comments and posts I see so many people with a soft spot for the town and want to see it thrive again, and why not?

Paisley has so much to give. Any outsider coming to the town can see we have some amazing looking buildings. We have a community based SPL Football team who this year brought Paisley to a standstill with thousands lining the streets to see them lift the Scottish League Cup. We also have the Royal National MoD coming to town this year as well as the many events staged in and around Paisley every single week. We have so much to actually be proud of, we don’t have to start from scratch and build on nothing. We need political will, not political point scoring, so much good is done, but why in the West of Scotland do we not celebrate success rather than focus on the negative, there should be focus on the positive.

So where do we begin to get the town back on track? Can the trend of decline be bucked and a potential niche market rise from the ashes of the blight that is the empty shop, like rotting teeth on our once proud High Street. I firmly believe we can buck the trend.

Individuals who have the town at heart are thinking and acting positively but it seems to be the same old faces. Once more there are plans to bring a cinema or leisure based complex to the site of the former Arnott’s store. Included is a possible bus station with the idea of Paisley becoming a first class transport hub, and with it the foresight for us to be a destination town or outlet town. (These are just ideas at this moment)

The big question is, are we prepared to promote Paisley and not put it down at the first chance we get? I don’t have the answers but I know that there is a growing number of people who are getting behind the town.

The Paisley BID (Business Improvement District) is a concept used by the likes of Falkirk and which has worked well, but this may be a few months or a good year away from happening and it still has to be voted through. Websites like who have been promoting the town positively for more than 13 years, as well as groups like the Paisley Development Trust and the Creative Renfrewshire Network are trying their hardest to bring groups and organisations together so we have some joined up thinking to move the town forward. All these things take time, but they also require commitment and dedication, and we are under no illusion that it is an uphill battle, but not impossible.

Get behind the town, don’t knock it, memories are great but the future is far more important…

Please let us know your opinions and thoughts on what we have said either by commenting below or on our Paisley Facebook Group or Paisley Active Forum.

(Photograph of Paisley Abbey above part of the set of Paisley Photographs for the Renfrewshire Provost Abseil, taken by Alex Kyle for )


We are having a fundraising folk evening at the Cottages on Thursday 6th June at 7.30pm.

Collins and Collins (formerly of Clydebuilt) will be performing.

It’s a ‘bring your own bottle’ arrangement with tea & coffee etc. at the break.

Tickets are £10 and can be bought at the Cottages or people can call Susan Reid at 0141 887 2273.

Doors Open Day 2013 will be chance to get into buildings

An annual celebration of Renfrewshire’s fascinating architectural history will return later this year – and organisers are looking for buildings to add to the list.

Doors Open Day is a showcase of the country’s built heritage, where visitors take a peek through the keyhole at hundreds of Scotland’s buildings for free.

This year’s event takes place on 14 and 15 September and will be the 20th anniversary of Renfrewshire’s participation.

Paisley Abbey interior

Local buildings set to throw open their doors on the day include Paisley Abbey, the council chambers at Renfrewshire House, local churches and fire stations.

But organisers are looking for local buildings of historical or architectural significance which have not taken part before to come forward for this year’s event, which is supported by Renfrewshire Council.

Councillor Terry Kelly, Convener of the council’s Planning and Property Policy Board, said: “The idea behind Doors Open Day is to show people the hidden gems that link present-day Renfrewshire to its past.

“Renfrewshire has an architectural heritage to be proud of, and Doors Open Day gives residents a glimpse of the fascinating history on their own doorstep.

“While there are many local buildings that prove popular with visitors every Doors Open Day, we would love to add new attractions to our list.

Paisley Abbey interior“We are keen to hear from the owners or managers of interesting buildings throughout Renfrewshire.

“If you would like to offer or recommend a building to add to Doors Open Day, please call 0141 618 6794 or email by the end of May.”

Doors Open Day is part of a wider Europe-wide celebration of built heritage, and sees over 50 countries take part, with over 20 million visits annually.

The Renfrewshire event will feature a competition for children to have their passport ‘stamped’ as they visit different venues, and will have a fun historical theme.

The council will also be running a photo competition with visitors encouraged to share their pictures of the buildings on social media.

For more information about the national event, visit


You can download the Doors Open Day Leaflet for the Renfrewshire area by clicking here..

paisley abbey flower festival

Paisley Abbey 850 Flower and Fabric Festival

Abbey’s 850 anniversary Flower and Fabric Festival which is taking place in the Abbey from Thursday 9 May, – Saturday 11 May from 10am to 4pm each day. On display will be hangings made over the last 18 months by the Abbey Stitcher’s and these will be complimented by floral art displays. The Accord Hospice art exhibition will be on during that time, too, so there should be something for everyone.

9,10 and 11 May 2013Tickets £5 from the Abbey shop or at the door

Tea and Coffee available

Open from 10 am till 4pm

Find out more about Paisley Abbey here