LSA Conference 2024: About Paisley & Renfrewshire
Situated just 10 minutes from Glasgow, Paisley is the fifth largest settlement in Scotland and often referred to as Scotland’s largest town. Despite its lack of city status, Paisley was shortlisted for the UK City of Culture 2021 in recognition of the use of cultural heritage as tool in its regeneration. Paisley has the largest concentration of listed buildings in Scotland outside of Edinburgh, including the 850 year old Paisley Abbey, but is probably most well known as the birthplace of the iconic Paisley Pattern.
Paisley has a rich cultural history, growing in prominence in the 12th century thanks to the establishment of Paisley Abbey, which become an important religious hub for the area. Robert II, grandson of Robert the Bruce was born in the Abbey and folklore suggests that William Wallace was educated by the monks at the Abbey. We are delighted to offer our delegates the opportunity to visit the Abbey as part of the conference with Renfrewshire Council kindly hosting a civic reception for us on the evening of 10th July.
Paisley was transformed into an economic powerhouse during the industrial revolution when under the leadership of Thomas Coats, it become the world centre for thread making. The town was home to numerous mills and weavers, including the Anchor Mills which produced world famous threads and rochet cotton, and the merged Coats and Clark dynasties, J&P Coats, which remains the worlds largest thread manufacturer and distributor. As noted above, Paisley is most renowned for the Paisley Pattern which was favoured across the world and has been worn by figures from Queen Victoria to the Beatles. Currently undergoing renovation and due to reopen in 2024 (hopefully prior to the conference!), Paisley Museum is home to a Recognised Collection of National Significance including Paisley shawls, working looms and pattern books.
Of particular relevance to the theme of our conference, Paisley’s associations with political radicalism were highlighted by the instrumental role that its high-status skilled weavers played in the Radical War of 1820. Sadly, overproduction, the collapse of the shawl market and a general depression in the textile industry and technical innovations led to the decline of the industry. By 1993 Paisley’s mills had all closed, although they are memorialised in the town’s museums and civic history, all of which have played a key role in its recent regeneration.
Places to Visit
The cotton and silk thread mills brought considerable wealth to Paisley, as can be seen in its array of magnificent civic buildings and churches, below we have suggested some local attractions which you may wish to visit during your stay:
Founded in 1163 Paisley Abbey is one of the town’s most iconic buildings. The Abbey remains a working church but is also host to a variety of events, having recently hosted the Royal National Mod, Scotland’s largest celebration of Gaelic culture and language. The Abbey is open Tuesday to Saturday from 10.30-3.30. We are delighted to be hosting our civic reception in this beautiful venue.
The renovation of Paisley Museum is the flagship project of Renfrewshire Council’s investment in the town’s unique and internationally significant cultural and heritage assets to transform the area’s future. Located just across from the UWS campus and due to open in 2024 (hopefully before the conference takes place!), the museum will house the town’s outstanding collections, bring to life the stories of its people, pattern and much more.
The striking 19th century Paisley Town Hall, has recently undergone a £22m transformation as part of Renfrewshire Council’s investment in Paisley’s historic cultural venues. Host to a variety of shows and performances, the Town Hall is also available to hire for weddings, business gatherings and events.
Sma Shot Cottages
Sma Shot Cottages offer an insight into the life of a Paisley Weaver as you enter a typical 18th century weaver’s cottage. The cottages are just along from the UWS campus, open Wed and Sat 12-4pm and Fri 1-5pm.
Paisley Thread Mill Museum
Just a short walk from the UWS campus and located within the Anchor Mill Complex, the Paisley Thread Mill Museum is a must for anyone interested in fashion and textiles. Telling the story of thread making in Paisley from its origin in 1722 to the close of the last mill in 1993, the museum is open Wednesday to Saturday, 12-4pm.
Much of the information above has been gathered from Paisley.IS – please have a look at their website for further information about our wonderful conference location.
Outdoor Attractions and Activities
As well as having numerous cultural attractions, Paisley is well situated for enjoying the outdoors, something which we know many of our delegates will be interested in.
Gleniffer Braes Country Park
Located to the south of Paisley, Glennifer Braes offers a mix of terrain including sheltered woodland and open moorland, ideal for walking and cycling. The park is home to an array of wildlife, including the famous highland cow – one not to miss during your visit. Known as the car park in the sky, the Glenfield Road car park at the top of the brae offers unrivalled views across Paisley, Glasgow and on a clear day you will see as far as Ben Lomond.
Clyde Murshiel Regional Park
Located a 10-15 minute drive from Paisley, Clyde Murshiel Regional Park offers a range of outdoor activities. As well as the numerous walking routes, the park is best known for its water sports, located at Castle Semple. Here, you can enjoy sailing, windsurfing and canoeing with no speedboats to interrupt you.
In addition to these local attractions, Paisley offers easy access to the Ayrshire Coast and Loch Lomond and the Trossachs. If you wish to extend your stay in Scotland beyond the conference, you can find more info on the VisitScotland website or please feel free to email LSA2024@uws.ac.uk if you would like further advice.