paisley shawls

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Paisley’s landmark collection of the shawls which made the town’s name famous around the world is set to be brought into the digital age.

Renfrewshire Council has been awarded almost £40,000 funding towards a project to digitise the Paisley shawl collection held at Paisley Museum.

paisley shawls

It will see the photography and digitisation of approximately 1,200 Paisley pattern shawls and 1,700 pages of pattern books to create a digital version of the collection, which visitors can explore via iPads.

The funding has come from Museums Galleries Scotland’s Recognition Fund as part of a £641k investment just announced for twenty projects around the country.

Digitisation of the shawl collection – deemed to be of national significance to Scotland – is set to begin in February, with the new digital resource to be launched in November 2016.

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The project is one of the first visible outcomes from Renfrewshire Council’s ambitious proposals to transform the area’s future by using Paisley’s internationally-significant heritage and cultural assets to drive a wide-ranging programme of regeneration over the next decade.

The flagship projects for that include a proposed multi-million pound refurbishment of Paisley Museum to turn it into a National Museum of Textile and Costume, currently at the feasibility stage, as well as a bid for UK City of Culture in 2021.

Councillor Jim Harte, Convener of Renfrewshire Council’s Sport, Leisure and Culture Policy Board, said: “We are delighted to have received this funding, which will enable us to showcase more shawls and patterns than ever before – giving visitors increased access to this world-famous display of textiles.

“The popularity of the Paisley shawls in the 19th century helped turn the town into a global brand and ushered in an era of prosperity – the results of which are still visible around us now.

“We have ambitious plans to use everything Paisley has to offer in terms of our proud weaving history plus our architecture, culture and events, to retell the town’s story to the world once again.

“This project to make our 19th century legacy available to visitors using 21st century technology is a great place to start.”

This funding will help museums up and down the country deliver results across education, social and health and wellbeing agendas through innovative and cost-effective programmes that connect museum collections with their communities and contribute to tourism and economic development.

MGS Chair Douglas Connell said: “We are pleased to start 2015 with a substantial funding round to support ambitious museum projects which increase the accessibility of museum collections, including Renfrewshire Council’s Paisley Shawl Collection Digitisation Project.

“The Scottish Government has demonstrated its continued support for the sector through funding which has enabled us to invest almost £1.5m over the last 12 months, with demand for financial assistance to deliver high-quality museum projects now well exceeding the funds available.”[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

THE world famous Paisley Pattern keeps the town’s name at the forefront of fashion.

Now two businessmen who recently opened a retail unit in The Piazza shopping centre have joined the campaign to promote the town by adopting the slogan – ‘Paisley is…always in style’.

Buddies Gary Kerr and Tommy McGrory have set up a new company, Paisley From Paisley, selling only fashion items featuring the famous Paisley Pattern.
The ‘Paisley is…’ marketing initiative uses the letters ‘i’ and ‘s’ in the word Paisley to tee-up different positive messages about the town.

Gary Kerr, who runs the engineering asset management company EPM Solutions said: “The idea to sell only products that feature the Paisley Pattern stemmed from a conversation I had with the late Ellen Farmer, of the Old Paisley Society, a few years ago. “She had said there was no one place you could go to get Paisley Pattern products.
“The idea came up again recently when I was talking to Tommy about the town and he had similar thoughts. So, we decided to launch the retail unit selling only Paisley Pattern products.“

At the moment we’ve sourced ties, ladies and gents scarves, shawls and pashminas from some of the biggest names in traditional clothing accessories like Tootal and Michelsons.
“We’re planning to source more items that feature the Paisley Pattern like jewellery, shirts, bags and wallets. And we’re planning to also sell our products online – taking Paisley to the rest of the world!”

Gary added: “We’ve started the retailing side, but we also want to see Paisley Pattern products being manufactured in the town that we can sell. Hopefully our venture could even maybe spark a cottage industry in the area with people making products we can take to the public.”

Tommy, who runs the Loud ‘n’ Proud Music School added: “Despite what people may say, Paisley does have a lot going for it. “We have a great heritage that we can exploit to start new businesses – just like Gary and I have done.“We’re just one of several new businesses to start up in the town recently and there’s no doubt there a new-found optimism that we can successfully revitalise the town in many different ways.

“We’re happy to support the Paisley is… campaign because a great way to get a positive message out about the town.”

Local businesses, organisations and community groups are being given the chance to get involved in promoting Paisley by using the ‘Paisley is…’ logo with the strapline that’s most relevant to what they are doing on their letterheads and publicity material.

Paisley Vision Board, who is running the marketing campaign, will provide the artwork free of charge to anyone willing to use it. Chairman of the Paisley Vision Board, Renfrewshire Council leader Mark Macmillan said: “Gary and Tommy should be congratulated in seeing a gap in the ‘Paisley’ market and utilising our town’s great heritage to launch a new business venture in the town centre. “It shows that with the right idea to attract customers, you can set up a successful business in Paisley town centre.”

For ‘Paisley is…’ branding artwork, contact Amanda Moulson, of Renfrewshire Council by emailing her at .


Fun day to mark end of £1m town centre work

Renfrewshire Council is throwing a party to celebrate the end of a £1m investment which has transformed a section of Paisley town centre.

A family fun day will be held in Paisley’s Johnston Street on Saturday 14 September to show off the work carried out as part of the Townscape Heritage Initiative.

The event is on from noon to 5pm and includes a stage hosted by Pulse FM, giant games, kids’ entertainment, face painting, traditional building workshops and raffles with prizes from local firms.

Acts set to perform on the stage include boy-band Supanova and singers Carrie Mac and Murdo Mitchell.

The day out is intended as a thank-you to residents and traders in the area for their patience while the work was being carried out.

Saturday’s event will coincide with Doors Open Day, which takes place in Renfrewshire over the weekend, and will see around 60 buildings around the district giving residents and visitors a peek behind the scenes.

Since the turn of the year, the seven-figure sum has been invested in the area around Causeyside Street during the public realm works.

This has included wider pavements, landscaping, new trees, and improved parking and loading bays for residents, shoppers and traders.

Paisley-THIThe work has been designed to reflect Paisley’s rich industrial heritage, with special features including a Paisley Pattern set into stone at the junction of Johnston Street and Gordon Street, as well as carved feature strips showing mill workers’ trades.

The overall project is being funded by Renfrewshire Council, the Heritage Lottery Fund, and Historic Scotland.

Councillor Terry Kelly, Convener of Renfrewshire Council’s Planning and Property Policy Board, said: “The council and its partners have made a significant investment in this part of the town over the past year, and this event is a way of showing that off.

“Our staff and contractors went to great lengths during the project to minimise disruption to residents and traders, and we are grateful for their co-operation.

“We have laid on a great programme of activities for Saturday afternoon, and I would encourage all residents to get themselves down to Johnston Street, check out the quality of the work, and enjoy the entertainment.”

The Causeyside Street work took place as part of the wider Townscape Heritage Initiative/Conservation Area Regeneration Scheme, which is a £3.5m project to help restore important built heritage within Paisley town centre.

The project has already involved a £500k restoration of the B-listed Paisley Arts Centre, completed last year, and includes current work to revamp a C-listed building in Forbes Place.

It also includes a grant scheme where retail businesses within the project area can apply for up to 90% of the costs of restoring traditionally-designed shopfronts.

Content Courtesy of Renfrewshire Council.


Getting To The Roots Of Paisley Design

The roots of the instantly recognisable Paisley pattern design may surprise a lot of people, who do not realise that its heritage goes back not only many hundreds of years, but many thousands of miles too. It’s an interesting and varied tale which shows that multi-culturalism is by no means a new phenomenon. It may have experienced its ups and downs in popularity, but it’s always been assured a place in the heart of the local population of Paisley itself, as well as reaching new audiences of fashionistas and design buffs who strive to present their own take on this most traditional and beautiful of patterns.

A design that is many hundreds of years old


The design itself can trace its origins back to Persia and the Sassanid Dynasty, a period of time that stretches back to around 221AD. Its distinctive shape, likened variously to a tear drop, a kidney or even that most exotic of fruit the Mango was originally called “boteh jegheh” and was created as a motif for a religious movement known as Zoroastrianists. The design was supposed to represent the Cypress Tree which was their symbol of everlasting life.

In Tamil culture, another region famed for it’s love of the pattern, the paisley design is known as Mankolam, as it resembles a Mango. Mango fruit is incredibly highly prized amongst the Tamil, it being a symbol of health, peace and prosperity.

The symbol was not only used as a design to go into fabric, but something that would also be used in jewellery designs too, particularly modelled in high carat gold earrings or pendants.

The spread of the influential pattern


Another popular design of the time and of the Persian region was something called the “buteh” which was similar in appearance to the design we’re familiar with but took on more of a floral appearance. This was used to decorate anything to do with the royal line of the time, including crowns and court garments. It was typically woven from gold or silver threads and put onto clothing or apparel that was constructed out of silk.

The fashion for using the pattern spread to many other Asian and Indian countries over the following centuries and it was in the Moghul period between the years 1526-1764 that it became the most popular, appearing on everything from stone carvings to the accoutrements and regalia of Princes and Holy Men.

It was during the 1600s that the pattern began to appear on shawls that were specifically designed for men. Historians have dated the earliest discovered piece of textile work with the design on to around 1680.

Princes of this era wore expensive pashmina shawls with the design that were incredibly labour intensive to make as they included a mixture of tapestry and weaving to produce them. Estimates guess that each shawl could have taken as long as eighteen months to make, such was the level of detail that went into them. The garments were being produced in Kashmir, which incidentally, is the region that gives us the name Cashmere in relation to the goat’s hair that the shawls were woven out of at the time.

Later development

During the late eighteenth century, when trade and industrialisation were beginning to take hold, men who were working for the British East India Company imported these shawls into the UK. As greatly loved as they were by the people who were importing them, it was recognised that they were going to be incredibly expensive and time consuming to produce so these entrepreneurs wanted to try and find ways of mass producing them much more cheaply.

It was during the closing stages of this century that we first see records for Paisley Patterned shawls being made in Norwich in East Anglia and for the first time in Scotland, though it was initially in Edinburgh.

Napoleon Bonaparte

If you want to know why Paisley became the epicentre of the design and gave it its name, then we need to look no further than the Napoleonic wars, which occurred at the end of the eighteenth century and spread into the early nineteenth.

These wars presented major problems with trading and exporting of goods, meaning that many luxury items simply couldn’t be brought across to the UK, one of these were the intricate shawls.

A side effect of trade being interrupted meant that there were many workers in this country who were out of work. At the time, Paisley was a major producer of silk, it therefore had many skilled workers who were unemployed.

A story that’s passed into lore tells of a mill in Edinburgh called Patersons who were having trouble completing an order for shawls that they had been sent. The order was sent to some unemployed silk workers in Paisley who did an exceptional job. They realised how much potential money there was for making such garments and from then on, the industry thrived in Paisley and the various mills in the town. The mill workers here were known not only for their immense skill, but for being very well read and educated too.

Victorian era onwards

paisley-shawlsBy the mid 1840s, the fashion for these shawls and the designs being produced in Paisley were the envy of all of France too and there became something of a problem with the French trying to counterfeit and copy them. Thus, the British Government decided to introduce a patent to the pattern. Whilst the silk workers here were doing an exemplary job, the Industrial Revolution brought into play newfangled machinery such as Jacquard Looms.

These pieces of equipment meant that a wider variety of Paisley patterns could be produced in a much quicker and efficient fashion in a wider variety of colours too. By the year 1860 it’s estimated that the weavers in Paisley could produce shawls that had as many as fifteen different colours in them, a marked increase on the number of colours that the same shawls being imported from Kashmir could produce.

During the latter stages of the Victorian era, more technological developments meant that as well as the pattern being weaved into shawls it could also be printed onto cloth and garments. Once this happened, its popularity spread further, as it suddenly became much cheaper for the weavers of Paisley to produce and meant that people who couldn’t afford to buy the shawls had a way of incorporating the fashion into their clothes. However, as with many popular trends, it soon fell out of favour.

Paisley pattern in fashion

The trend for Paisley pattern did sadly wane somewhat into the early stages of the twentieth century; however, it did experience many revivals over the years. During the 1960s it became an essential part of menswear again with everything from paisley patterned shirts and ties being worn and loved by discerning gentlemen keen to get in on a fashion trend.

It once again saw a resurgence during the early years of the twenty first century, becoming associated with sporting competitions, when during the Winter Olympics of 2010, the Azerbaijan team wore Paisley patterned trousers as part of their uniform. It made them an instantly recognisable part of the winter sports event, putting the pattern back on the fashion map once again. They were also made famous by the exuberant US golfing star John Daly who took to the fairway of the 2009 PGA Championships in a pair of brightly coloured purple paisley patterned golfing trousers. A character who is never one to shy away from publicity, the trousers certainly got him noticed.

It’s clear that while the pattern has experienced ups and downs over the years and tastes have changed, it will never truly disappear and will always have a place somewhere in the fashion lover’s wardrobe. To think of how far it has travelled and how it developed in such a small area of Scotland is truly amazing.

Article written by Evelyn Moffat.

Paisley Pattern

paisley logo

Paisley Property Market on the Rise

Paisley town hit the national headlines in18 December 2012 when the Scottish Government rated Ferguslie Park as the most deprived datazone. The damning statistical revelation was published in the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation 2012 (SIMD 2012). This was not shocking news for Paisley residents because Ferguslie Park topped SIMD’s most deprived datazone rankings in 2006 and was runners up in 2009. However, the news presented major concerns to the town’s administrators and investors alike because of the backlash it was likely to generate in the local business and political circles. Looking at the bigger picture, though, such panic and pessimism was unwarranted. Truth be told, Ferguslie Park is only but a small section of Paisley and its predicaments do not necessarily translate to doom for the entire town. Trends in the town’s real estate sector and other fundamental economic parameters, tell it all.

Paisley Pattern

Paisley PatternReal estate is the bedrock of Paisley’s economy but also the hallmark of its heritage. The mere mention of real estate brings to fore the renowned Paisley Pattern that has dominated the town’s architecture for centuries. Save for the property market glut that was widespread in the town and all over Scotland during the 2009 global economic recession, Paisley’s real estate and housing sectors have remained vibrant over the years. Property dealers in the traditional town centre have been raking in millions of sterling pounds as both residential and commercial property uptake continue to flourish. Property developers, estate agents and commercial property insurance providers are experiencing good business tidings. The Renfrewshire Chamber of Commerce has categorically outlined these abundant commercial and investment opportunities in the town.

Property Trends

The recently completed property developments have given Paisley streets major facelifts. One such development was the mega student accommodation facility that was completed at the University of West of Scotland’s Paisley Campus. The building was constructed at a cost of £17.6 million provided an additional 336 bed spaces for Paisley campus. The university’s flats in George Street as well as those that located along the Lady Lane were transformed tremendously with repairs that were worth £4.4 million.

Paisley Town Hall

paisley town hallIndeed, property trends in the town have been changing fast that the Renfrewshire Council issued a directive requiring all privately owned properties to be refurbished or risk demolition. The Council has already commenced repairs on some of its properties, including the Paisley Town Hall and Paisley Arts Centre. Notably, repairs at the Paisley Town hall will reportedly cost £1.6 million. The Council seeks to conduct thorough repairs on all the public facilities in Paisley that are within its jurisdiction. Private property owners were expected to take cue and ensure their properties met the new architectural benchmarks that have been set in the town.

Progressing and Planned Developments

Paisley has been dubbed Renfrewshire’s fulcrum of property for sale and indeed, it has lived up to the billing. The town has been transformed into a bee hive of constructions activities following the realisation of more and more commercial and public planned developments. Some of the major planned developments that are already underway include the Gilmour House, the Paisley Piazza Multi-Story Car Park and Tesco Superstore, Wallneuk.

Gilmour House was purchased by FreshStart Living in August 2012. FreshStart Living then converted this particular piece of architectural wonder from its initially intended office space facility to an accommodation facility for UWS students in Paisly Campus. The building has a capacity of 235 flats and students would have sufficient number of en-suite rooms to choose from. It was estimated that Gilmour House would be ready for use during the 2013 academic year.

NewRiver Retail, a leading real estate developer in Paisley, acquired the Paisley Piazza Multi-Story Car Park at a record-breaking cost of £68 million in 2011. Paisley 2020 reported that the building was earmarked for extensive renovations that were set to begin in 2013. The planned renovation will significantly improve the town’s parking facilities.

Tesco’s plans to put up a hyper retail store right at Paisley’s entry point, Wallneuk, have been underway since 2009. Tesco has been busy preparing and seeking approval for its architectural plan that will see the construction of giant a 24-hour shopping mall. The old structures and facilities that previously occupied the targeted site were demolished in 2012. The planned development is now at its advanced stages and construction activities were expected to commence in 2013.

Article written by Evelyn Moffat.