Wool, Witches & World War 2

Wool, Witches & World War 2

On the seventh of December 2017, Paisley lost its City of Culture bid to Coventry. Although this was disappointing to all involved in the campaign, it was not a fruitless endeavor. The people of Paisley and surrounding areas were made aware of – as Malcolm Roughead, VisitScotland Chief Executive, puts it – the “rich and fascinating creative history” the city has to offer and highlighted that although 2021 will not be their year on paper – Paisley is certainly a City of Culture.

Paisley 2021
City of Culture bid 2021

Wool

Roughead said, “The 2021 UK City of Culture bid was an important part of the journey to raise global awareness of Paisley’s internationally-significant heritage.” It is no secret that Paisley is predominantly famous due to its factories and large production of thread and wool. They even have a pattern named after them, but most are unaware that in the early 1800s Paisley was one of the main manufacturers of shawls, and employed more than 7000 weavers at the time. They exported millions of shawls and other thread goods all around the world, and gained a worldwide reputation for the weaving trade.

Paisley Museum is set to be given a £4m investment from the Scottish Government.

Paisley differs from other cities in terms of it embracing it’s culture and history. Annually there is a celebration of the production of thread that is filled with a parade and fun activities for children and adults alike, all for them to learn about their ancestors history. They also partake in heritage trails that are funded by the Heritage Lottery.

It is because of this globally significant textile heritage and their unique collections that Paisley Museum is set to be given a £4m investment from the Scottish Government.6.jpg

Paisley is open to, and encourages exploring their past with the public. Sma Shot cottage is a prime example of this. Sma Shot Cottage  is a complete immersion into the past, and is unlike any other museum you will ever see. It consists of both 18th and 19th century style homes showing what life was like for the average weaver in their respective times. It also highlights the class divide that historically existed.

Sma Shot is free to the public, and private tours are available to book via email. Visitors are also welcome to have lunch after their tour in the historic café on Wednesday and Saturday afternoons, from 1pm to 5pm.

Sma Shot day is set to take place on the 6th of July this year.

Witches

The threadworks of Paisley are undeniably something for residents of the city to be proud of, however there is an extremely dark part of history, that although tragic, is fascinating.

 

 

There have been many sightings of ghosts.

In the late 1600s and early 1700s, people being executed for witchcraft was on trend and popular in Britain. The tales of the Paisley witches revolve around a young girl by the name of Christian Shaw, a lairds daughter. She had an argument with a woman named Katherine Campbell and accused Katherine of being a witch. Katherine was found guilty and was burned at the stake. This must have triggered Christian’s bloodlust, as she went on to accuse far more innocents, seven of which (pardon 4the pun) were found guilty and sentenced to death.

One of Christian’s victims was a woman named Agnes Naysmith, Agnes made a dying woman’s curse that every witness present at her execution and their descendants would forever have misfortune and bad luck. This curse has been blamed for any tragedy that has occured in Paisley since.

Paisley’s haunting past has led people to believe that it is still haunted to this day, there have been many sightings of ghosts and no one can deny, the creepy aesthetic of Paisley Abbey, a building that was built in 1163. The majority of people living in Paisley believe the city is haunted with 63% responding to a survey asking if they believed this saying they definitely did.

Footage: Witch Festival 1967

World War 2

A time that is often left out when discussing the city’s history is the Second World War. Paisley was an instrumental tool during this time period, so much so that memorials have been erected around the city to pay tribute to the 97 people that were killed.

The home of Paisley’s WW2 artefacts, Paisley Museum, an establishment that is run by Renfrewshire Leisure – is set to close this year and will reopen again in 2022. After a drastic makeover it is expected that the new building will quadruple current visitor numbers. It is believed that it will create a £72m economic boost, and will bring 138 jobs during the construction phase. Once it is completed 42 new permanent jobs will open up.

Renfrewshire councillor, Iain Nicholson said, “Between now and 2022 we will work with the local community to create a world-class destination showcasing Paisley’s outstanding art, science and natural history collections, and globally-significant textile heritage.

“Paisley’s bid to be UK City of Culture 2021 raised awareness of our unique story to a worldwide audience, and the museum project is central to a wider set of plans to build on that momentum and make the town one of Scotland’s key visitor destinations.”

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