With its countless listed buildings standing as testament to the town’s industrial heritage and entrepreneurial spirit, Paisley is unlike any other town in Scotland.
Paisley Museum & Coats Observatory
Paisley Museum and Coats Observatory are now closed as part of a four-year long £42m transformation of the venue. The new-look museum will showcase its outstanding art, science and natural history collections, along with telling the story of the Paisley pattern, the town’s famous weavers and being at the centre of the global thread-making industry. The redevelopment will include a contemporary addition to the existing Victorian-era building, major revamps to all four museum buildings including Coats Observatory, and a complete internal redesign reimagining the visitor experience and doubling the number of objects on display.
Paisley Abbey was founded when Walter Fitzalan, the High Steward of Scotland, signed a charter at Fotheringay for the founding of a Cluniac monastery on land he owned in Renfrewshire, approximately seven miles from Glasgow. Thirteen monks came from Much Wenlock in Shropshire to set up the priory on the site of an old Celtic church founded by St. Mirin in the 6th century. In 1245, the priory was raised to the status of an Abbey, answerable only to the pope in Rome. The Abbey was dedicated to St. Mary, St. James, St. Mirin (the ‘local’ saint who had first brought Christianity to this part of Scotland in the sixth century) and St. Milburga (the ‘local’ saint of Wenlock).
Under royal patronage, the Abbey became wealthy and influential and evidence exists of extensive trade between Paisley Abbey and commercial centres throughout Europe. The Abbey was also a centre of learning and it is believed that William Wallace, who played a prominent part in the Wars of Independence in the 13th century, was educated by the monks of Paisley Abbey.
Much of the original building was destroyed by fire in 1307 and restored during the fourteenth Century. The sixth High Steward, Walter, married Marjory Bruce, the daughter of the famous Scottish king Robert the Bruce (who had defeated an English army at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314) in 1315. In the following year, Marjory died at the Abbey following a tragic riding accident nearby, but the baby in her womb was saved and he became King Robert II of Scotland, the first of the Stewart monarchs. For that reason, the Abbey claims to be the ‘cradle of the Royal House of Stewart.’ Our present Queen is descended from him. In fact, the Abbey is the final resting place of six High Stewards of Scotland, Princess Marjory Bruce, the wives of King Robert II and King Robert III.
Thomas Coats Memorial Church
Thomas Coats Memorial Baptist Church stands at the west end of the High Street in Paisley and is a category A listed building. Thomas Coats (1809-1883), the co-founder of the world-famous J.&P Coats company, was a philanthropist and devout member of the Baptist Church. He was committed to the wellbeing of his town, involved in the restoration of Paisley Abbey, and funding projects such as the construction of the Coats Observatory and Paisley Fountain Gardens. After his death in 1883, his close family funded the construction of the church in his memory.
The church is built in the Gothic Revival style in red sandstone, cruciform in shape with flying buttresses along the nave and transepts. The central tower rises to an open crown steeple. There is seating inside for almost 1,000 people under the vaulted ceiling. Other features include mosaics, stencilled decoration, gargoyles, carved marble, and alabaster. On either side of the chancel, the organ with some 3,040 pipes can be seen. Built by William Hill & Sons, the organ is one of only a few of its kind in Britain which has not been modified.
The last church service was held at the church in August 2018 and a campaign is now underway to raise funds to save the church for future generations by transforming it into a multi-purpose arts venue. For further details www.100daystosavecoatsmemorial.com/
Sma’ Shot Cottages
On entering from Shuttle Street, visitors immediately step back into the 18th century into a typical weaver’s cottage which was originally built in the 1750s.
There are fantastic local guides who accompany you on a tour of our attraction and will provide a fascinating insight into how a typical weaving family lived and worked during this important period of Paisley’s history. Within the weaver’s cottage, you will find the original weaving looms and learn about the origins of the Sma’ Shot Day celebration held in July each year.
On crossing the yard, you will discover the house of a foreman of a nearby mill in the mid-19thcentury. Within this house, visitors can experience what family life was like within the kitchen/living area, bedroom, children’s room and parlour – each room is decorated to represent various time periods from the late 19th into the early 20th century. Admission is free; however, all donations toward the upkeep of the cottages are gratefully accepted. There is also a tea room and gift shop on site. Open from 1st April – 30th September 2019 – Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 12noon until 4pm
Paisley Town Hall
Paisley Town Hall has now closed its doors as part of Renfrewshire Council’s £100m investment in Paisley town centre venues and cultural infrastructure over the next few years.
A sell-out Festive Family Ceilidh on 28 December was the last event before the doors closed until the Town Hall reopens in 2021 as a major venue attracting events and people to the town.
The building will receive a £22 million internal refurbishment to become one of the landmark entertainment venues in the West of Scotland. The redesign will broaden the range of events the town hall can offer, and transform the performance facilities and visitor experience, as well as improved catering and conference facilities, better physical access, and replacement of the mechanical and electrical systems.
Paisley Town Hall has been at the heart of life in the town for the past 140 years – this revamp is aimed at keeping it that way for the future.
Paisley Arts Centre
The café bar is a great place to enjoy a pre or post-show drink or nibble, with a beer garden perfect for those summer days and nights.
Formerly the Laigh Kirk ( built by the town council nearly 250 years ago as Paisley’s first post-Reformation church), the building has played host to arts events since 1987.
On arrival, why not take a self-led tour of the centre? Discover the history of the silk merchants and manufacturers buried within the grounds.
Be greeted by distinctive stone and bronze sculptures upon your arrival – this architectural treasure stands tall on the corner of Causeyside Street and is another iconic landmark in the town.
The building was commissioned by Miss Agnes Russell to provide child welfare as a memorial to her two brothers, Thomas and Robert Russell, who died in 1913 and 1920 respectively. and now acts as a skills development hub.
Opened in 1927, the masterful building oozes history and fine craftsmanship. Internal viewing is possible every year during Doors Open Day in September.
St Mirin’s Cathedral
Opposite the cathedral, at the junction of Incle Street with Gauze Street and Glasgow Road, stands a bronze statue of St Mirin by Norman Galbraith which was completed and unveiled in 2007.