£30,000 study aims to find a future for world’s oldest machine factory

A £30,000 architectural, structural and financial investigation could be the key to restoring a crucial piece of Scotland’s industrial heritage to its former glory.

Renfrewshire Council has commissioned The Prince’s Regeneration Trust to carry out a major feasibility study into finding a new future for Paton’s Mill in Johnstone.

The 227 year old mill, believed to be the world’s oldest surviving machine factory, has been empty and increasingly derelict since production stopped in 2004. The Category A Listed mill was the first building to be constructed in the new town of Johnstone in the 18th century.

The feasibility study follows a £25,000 investment by Renfrewshire Council to seal the mill’s windows and doors. The move is designed to protect the iconic building from fire-raisers and thieves, who had started to remove lead flashing from the roof.

The Prince’s Regeneration Trust was invited to get involved by the Council following its highly acclaimed regeneration work at the Anchor Mill and Seedhill Bridge in Paisley. The £12million project saw the historic mill and surrounding area comprehensively regenerated into a vibrant hub for the local community.

Cllr Iain Nicolson, Convener of Renfrewshire Council’s Planning and Economic Development Policy Board, said, “The Prince’s Regeneration Trust is unique. It is the only agency in Scotland that has the capacity and the remit to undertake a feasibility study of this nature on such an important part of our built heritage.

“Renfrewshire Council worked very closely with The Prince’s Regeneration Trust on restoring Paisley’s Anchor Mill and we hope that we can achieve a similar success with Paton’s Mill.”

Ros Kerslake, Chief Executive of The Prince’s Regeneration Trust, said, “We at the Trust have enjoyed a fantastic relationship with Renfrewshire Council working on the magnificent £12 million restoration of the 19th-century Anchor Mill and Seedhill Footbridge in Paisley. Together we have really set the gold standard for heritage regeneration work of this type. We’re thrilled to be able to help rewrite the future for Paton’s Mill which is part of Scotland’s industrial soul and of enormous historical significance.

“The options appraisal is the first step on the ladder for the mill and will hopefully bring forward a scheme that results in the sensitive regeneration of this fantastic building that will help revive the area and give a boost to the local community, as well as help save one of the world’s oldest mills.”

Paton’s Mill is the earliest surviving cotton mill in Scotland and one of the earliest in Britain. It was built on the banks of the Black Cart River in 1782 by the Corse and Burns Company.  The mill was a fully operational textile factory continuously for nearly 220 years.
It is also known as the Bootlace Factory due to its most recent use making shoe laces. At its peak, the mill produced around 25 million pairs of laces a year. Production finally ended in 2004 when Paton’s moved its operation to a nearby business park.

The Prince’s Regeneration Trust is a charity established by HRH The Duke of Rothesay which focuses on heritage-led regeneration.  The Trust’s projects enable under used or redundant buildings to perform a new function, unlocking a regeneration of the wider community.

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Renfrewshire’s Fairtrade Zone campaign

Paisley and Bishopton have already successfully achieved Fairtrade status. Our aim now is for Renfrewshire to build upon this to become a Fairtrade Zone, and to do so we need to achieve the following goals:

  • get local authority support for Fairtrade
  • a range of Fairtrade products made readily available in shops and cafes
  • Fairtrade products used by local businesses and community organisations
  • attract media coverage and popular support for Fairtrade
  • a local steering group is convened to ensure progress and continued commitment to Fairtrade status

In November 2007, Renfrewshire Council approved a report on their vision of a Fairtrade Zone for the whole of Renfrewshire. Since then, we have set up a steering group in Renfrewshire to increase the awareness of the Fairtrade campaign and work towards Fairtrade Zone status.

For more information on Fairtrade please visit

Renfrewshire will host a packed programme of events during this year’s Fairtrade Fortnight as part of the bid to make the whole area a Fairtrade zone.

Schoolchildren, students, local businesses, churches and Renfrewshire Council have joined forces and formed the Renfrewshire Fairtrade Steering Group to push forward plans to achieve Fairtrade status for Renfrewshire.

The group will co-ordinate a wide variety of events taking place during Fairtrade Fortnight (25 February – 8 March).

These include a Fairtrade roadshow which will travel to venues across the area such as Braehead shopping centre, Glasgow Airport, Castle Semple visitor centre, Renfrew leisure centre, and the Paisley campus of the University of the West of Scotland. Volunteers from Renfrewshire Fairtrade Steering Group will run a stall providing leaflets, sample tasters and information on why Fairtrade is important.

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