News

Spotlight on: Weave and Sma' Shot Day celebration

For Scotland's Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology, the one-day Sma' Shot festival will be bigger and better than ever and accompanied by a wrap-around cultural programme called Weave.

Celebrating old and new traditions

The entire weekend (1-2 July) will be played out across Paisley's historic town centre. 

The traditional Sma' Shot Parade will be be led by the Charleston Drum, with hundreds of participants and performers wending their way through the streets in a dazzling depiction of Paisley's history as a global textile centre.

Over the weekend, this family-friendly festival offers live music, poetry, craft and design, kids' activities, dance, street performance and more to tell the story of the weavers' rebellion, the iconic Paisley Pattern and its legacy for modern-day makers and artists.

Watch this space for more details of our entire event programme for the weekend.

Weave is one of Visit Scotland’s signature events for the country’s Year of Heritage, History and Archaeology 2017.

What is Sma' Shot Day?

The traditional Sma’ Shot holiday in Paisley takes its name from a famous dispute between the local shawl weavers and manufacturers in the 19th century.

The sma’ shot was a fine weft yarn, woven into Paisley shawls by the weavers, for which they were not paid. At the height of their powers in the mid 19th century, there were more than 7,000 weavers in the town.

In 1856, an agreement was finally reached to pay for the sma’ shot, and a new table of prices was published on July 1st 1856.

There was a custom at that time for workers to go on an annual outing one Saturday during the summer.

The Paisley weavers’ practice was to take this holiday and go on a trip on the first Saturday in July. Many weaver’s wives and daughters working in the thread mills naturally asked to have their own holiday on the same day.

In 1856, the annual holiday happened three days after the weavers’ sma’ shot victory.

They gathered from each weaving district to the ‘tuck of the drum’ and marched with bands and banners, to the railway station, before departing with their families for destinations including the seaside, known locally as “doon the watter”.

The annual holiday became known as Sma’ Shot Saturday—the first in July.

As the fashion for shawls declined so too did the weaver population and this traditional name was kept up by the town’s thread mill workers long after weaving had disappeared.

In 1904, it was made an official Trades Holiday and remained as such until World War II.

With the introduction of a five day week after the war, every Saturday was effectively a holiday so Sma’ Shot Day was no longer marked.

In 1986, with growing interest in local traditions, Sma’ Shot Day was revived.