Paisley made textiles. And textiles made Paisley
The Paisley we know now was formed by the industrial revolution, which transformed a small market town into a thriving textile hub where hundreds of weavers threaded together the Paisley-patterned shawls which carried our name around the world.
The weavers were succeeded by giant thread mills which still employed tens of thousands of people until well into the 20th century.
And just as the Paisley Pattern remains a globally-recognised brand, the legacy of our place at the centre of the world’s textile industry is still all around us.
The largesse of the mill owners helped fund a museum collection described as ‘internationally significant’ by visiting experts, and which includes the world’s finest collection of Paisley shawls.
Of course the story of Paisley’s history is also the story of Paisley’s people – from influential globe-trotters such as John Witherspoon (a signatory of the American Declaration of Independence) to Alexander Wilson (the father of American ornithology), and cultural figures like the town’s ‘weaver poet’ Robert Tannahill.
And one thing Paisley’s people have tended not to be is shy. Take the strong themes of thought and radicalism running through its history, shown by the role of the town – a hotbed of early trades unionism – at the centre of the Radical War of 1820.
That led then Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli to comment: ‘Keep your eye on Paisley’. Nearly 200 years on, we think that is still good advice.