The day was sunny as the small group of ramblers left the
arches at Gilmour Street Railway Station in Paisley on Cathies first walk as a
leader. Soon we were crossing the first of several bridges as we followed the
River Cart through the centre of town, stopping to admire statues of local heroes
while admiring the historical buildings which were intermingled with the new.
In the Square in front of the station musicians were playing music and the
statue of Wallace looked out over the town. We walked through the town noting
the Paisley Abbey on the left as we continued to follow the river. Crossing
more Victorian bridges with their unique character we made our way to the former
Coats thread factory. After we crossed the road, we caught the first sight of one
of the murals described in the Scots Magazine, a Kingfisher resplendent in its
We then followed the river before cutting through to our
first stop at the Threadmill Museum. Inside the building was a small museum
telling the history of Paisley threads making. Cathie had arranged to have a
short talk by a local historian on Paisleys rise to fame and fortune, thread,
silk and shawl making. He thrilled us with macabre tales about Christian Bale. At
the same time a woman came and showed us the designs and samples of the Renfrew
Tapestry which is being made by 1,000 volunteers to celebrate the past present
and future of Paisley.
After our lunch/coffee break, we made our way back through
the gardens to the next stop at Paisley Abbey. The building is rich in history
and we lingered amongst the cloisters and nave until the leader moved the party
on. We could have spent more time there as there were so many things to see. We
then continued down through the town past the Russell Institute which is a beautiful
A listed Art-Deco building, originally established the 1920’s as a health for
women and children, it was now adapting to the changing demands of the 20th
Century. We meandered down to the Bungalow which is a street with now
world-famous murals, they often had a connection to Paisley e.g. Gerry Rafferty
a local lad. However, John Lennon and Jimmy Hendrix were there representing the
world’s famous artists.
As we made our way back we noticed that the Sma’ Shot Cottages , a set of preserved old houses were open. The guide gave us a tour of the houses showing the way people lived in olden days and the changes that had taken place over the years. The visit was like a time travel through the development of the weaving industry and we were able to see examples of the old hand weaving looms. Again, we were regaled with interesting tales relating to local characters.
We then made our way to the Black Bull, one of the oldest
pubs in Paisley which had a host of original features and a working juke box.
While there we spoke to some actors dressed as first world war soldiers who
were making a film about the Spanish Flu pandemic which killed millions of
people at the end of the war.
After a cold lemonade, the next part of the walk was up the steep cobbled stones past the Coats Observatory to a viewpoint at the top of the hill. If you closed your eyes you could hear the clogs and sparks as the millworkers made their way up the hill to their respective churches.
The walkers then sang a song about a woman working in the mill, dreaming of her valentine who would take her away from the drudgery of the mill work. It is not clear how many of us were in key but we all sang with passion and enthusiasm. The last part of the walk was back down the cobbled streets passed the Quakers church to the cars and home.
Paisley is a town with a rich history and heritage, it is a much undervalued place with a great deal of energy and character. A vote of thanks was given by Marjorie and all agreed that although it was Cathie’s first walk as a leader she had delivered a magical and surprising walk, the bridges were only one part of the rich tapestry that made up this walk.