Paisley Town Hall
|Paisley shown within Renfrewshire|
|OS grid reference|
|• Edinburgh||49 mi (79 km) E|
|• London||347 mi (558 km) SSE|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|Postcode district||PA1 – PA3|
|Dialling code||0141 & 01505|
Paisley (//; Scottish Gaelic: Pàislig [ˈpʰaːʃʎikʲ]) is the largest town in the historic county of Renfrewshire in the west central Lowlands of Scotland and serves as the administrative centre for the Renfrewshire council area. The town is situated on the northern edge of the Gleniffer Braes, straddling the banks of the White Cart Water, a tributary of the River Clyde.
The town, a former burgh, forms part of the contiguous Greater Glasgow urban area; Glasgow city centre is 6.9 miles (11.1 km) to the east. The town came to prominence with the establishment of Paisley Abbey in the 12th century, an important religious hub in medieval Scotland which formerly had control over the other churches in the local area. It is regularly cited as 'Scotland's largest town' as it has yet to attain official city status.
By the 19th century, Paisley had established itself as a centre of the weaving industry, giving its name to the Paisley shawl and the Paisley Pattern. The town's associations with political Radicalism were highlighted by its involvement in the Radical War of 1820, with striking weavers being instrumental in the protests. As of 1993, all of Paisley's mills had closed, although they are memorialised in the town's museums and civic history.
Paisley is bidding for UK City of Culture in 2021 as part of plans to use culture and heritage to help regenerate the town.
- 1 History
- 2 Geography
- 3 Economy
- 4 Landmarks
- 5 Education
- 6 Religion
- 7 Notable people
- 8 Media
- 9 Sport
- 10 Transport
- 11 Public services
- 12 International relations
- 13 See also
- 14 References
- 15 External links
Formerly and variously known as Paislay, Passelet, Passeleth, and Passelay the burgh's name is of uncertain origin; some sources suggest a derivation either from the Brittonic word pasgill, "pasture", or more likely, passeleg, "basilica", (i.e. major church), itself derived from the Greek βασιλική basilika. However, some Scottish place-name books[which?] suggest "Pæssa's wood/clearing", from the Old English personal name Pæssa, "clearing", and leāh, "wood". Pasilege (1182) and Paslie (1214) are recorded previous spellings of the name. The Gaelic spelling is Pàislig.
Paisley has monastic origins. A chapel is said to have been established by the 6th/7th century Irish monk, Saint Mirin at a site near a waterfall on the White Cart Water known as the Hammils. Though Paisley lacks contemporary documentation it may have been, along with Glasgow and Govan, a major religious centre of the Kingdom of Strathclyde. A priory was established in 1163 from the Cluniac priory at Wenlock in Shropshire, England at the behest of Walter fitz Alan (d. 1177) High Steward of Scotland. In 1245 this was raised to the status of an Abbey. The restored Abbey and adjacent 'Place' (palace), constructed out of part of the medieval claustral buildings, survive as a Church of Scotland parish church. One of Scotland's major religious houses, Paisley Abbey was much favoured by the Bruce and Stewart royal families. It is generally accepted that William Wallace was educated here. King Robert III (1390–1406) was buried in the Abbey. His tomb has not survived, but that of Princess Marjorie Bruce (1296–1316), ancestor of the Stewarts, is one of Scotland's few royal monuments to survive the Reformation.
Paisley coalesced under James II's wish that the lands should become a single regality and, as a result, markets, trading and commerce began to flourish. In 1488 the town's status was raised by James IV to Burgh of barony.
Many trades sprang up and the first school was established in 1577 by the Town Council. The Paisley witches, also known as the Bargarran witches or the Renfrewshire witches, were tried in Paisley in 1697. Seven were convicted and five were hanged and then burnt on the Gallow Green. Their remains were buried at Maxwelton Cross in the west end of the town. This was the last mass execution for witchcraft in western Europe. A horse shoe was placed on top of the site to lock in the evil. A horse shoe is still visible in the middle of this busy road junction today—though not the original. The modern shoe is made of bronze and bears the inscription, "Pain Inflicted, Suffering Endured, Injustice Done".
The Industrial Revolution based on the textile industry turned Paisley from a small market town to an important industrial town in the late 18th century. Its location attracted English mill owners; immigrants from Ayrshire and the Highlands poured in to a town that offered paying jobs to women and children. However, silk fell out of fashion in 1790. The mills switched to the imitation Kashmir (cashmere) shawls called "Paisley." Under the leadership of Thomas Coats (1809-1893), Paisley became the world centre for thread making. The high-status skilled weavers mobilized themselves in radical protests after 1790 culminating in the failed "Radical War" of 1820. Overproduction, the collapse of the shawl market and a general depression in the textile industry led to technical changes that reduced the importance of weavers. Politically the mill owners remained in control of the town.
By the mid-19th century weaving had become the town's principal industry. The Paisley weavers' most famous product were the shawls, which bore the Paisley Pattern made fashionable after being worn by a young Queen Victoria. Despite being of a Kashmiri design and manufactured in other parts of Europe, the teardrop-like pattern soon became known by Paisley's name across the western world. Although the shawls dropped out of fashion in the 1870s, the Paisley pattern remains an important symbol of the town: the Paisley Museum maintains a significant collection of the original shawls in this design and it has been used, for example, in the modern logo of Renfrewshire Council, the local authority.
Politics and relief
Through its weaving fraternity, Paisley gained notoriety as being a literate and somewhat radical town and between 1816 and 1820 became the scene of a Radical War. Political intrigue, early trades unionism and reforming zeal came together to produce mass demonstrations, cavalry charges down the high street, public riots and trials for treason. Documentation from the period indicates that overthrow of the government was even contemplated by some. The weavers of Paisley were certainly active in the 'Radical War'. A mixture of religious opinions and healthy drink-fueled debate raged at night amongst the weavers, poets, merchants, masons and others. The perceived radical nature of the inhabitants prompted the Tory Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli to comment "Keep your eye on Paisley". The poet Robert Tannahill lived in this setting, working as a weaver. Paisley's annual Sma' Shot Day celebrations held on the first Saturday of July  were initiated in 1856 to commemorate a 19th-century dispute between weavers and employers over payment for "sma' shot" – a small cotton thread which, although unseen, was necessary in holding together garments.
The economic crisis of 1841-43 hit Paisley hard as most of the mills shut down. Among the mill owners, 67 of 112 went bankrupt. A quarter of the population was on poor relief. The Prime Minister, Sir Robert Peel decided to act. He secured additional funds for relief and sent his own representative to the city to supervise its distribution. He convinced Queen Victoria to wear Paisley products in order to popularise the products and stimulate demand.
The American Civil War of 1861-1865 cut off cotton supplies to the textile mills of Paisley. The mills in 1861 had a stock of cotton in reserve, but by 1862 there was large-scale shortages and shutdowns. There were no alternative jobs for the workers, and local authorities refuse to provide relief. Voluntary relief efforts were inadequate, and the unemployed workers refused to go to workhouses. Workers blamed not the United States, but rather the officials in London for their hardship and did not support the idea of war with the United States.
Paisley was also the site of an incident that gave rise to a major legal precedent. In a Paisley cafe in 1928, a woman allegedly found a dead snail in a bottle of ginger beer, and became ill. She sued the manufacturer for negligence. At the time a manufacturer was considered liable only if there was a contract in place with the harmed party. However, after Donoghue v Stevenson wound through the courts, a precedent was established that manufacturers (and other "neighbours" or fellow citizens) owe a duty not to do foreseeable harm to others by negligence, regardless of contractual obligations, which paved the way for modern tort law. The case is often called the "Paisley snail."
Second World War
Owing to its industrial roots, Paisley, as with many industrial towns in Renfrewshire, became a target for German Luftwaffe bombers during World War II. Although it was not bombed as heavily as the nearby Glasgow (see Clydebank Blitz), air raids still occurred periodically during the early years of the war, killing nearly a hundred people in several separate incidents; on 6 May 1941, a parachute mine was dropped in the early hours of the morning claiming 92 victims and is billed the worst disaster in Paisley's history. The Gleniffer Braes, situated on the outskirts south of Paisley, is home to a number of "decoy ponds" (mock airfields) used by the RAF in the aftermath of the Battle of Britain as part of a project code-named "Starfish Decoy" designed to confuse German spies.
Paisley sits primarily on an expanse of low ground around 12 meters (40 ft) above sea level surrounding the White Cart Water, which runs through the town centre. There are a number of elevated hills and ridges which have been absorbed as the town has expanded. The settlement is historically centred on Oakshaw, an area surrounding a hill to the north of the current High Street. Oakshaw is a conservation area and on the high ground many of Paisley's significant buildings can be found, such as the High Kirk, the Coats Observatory and the former John Neilson Institution, which was once a school and is now converted into residential flats.
Around the centre there are a large number of older residential buildings. The town centre, Williamsburgh and Charleston areas contain many examples of Scottish tenement flats. Three to four stories tall, with shops on the ground floor and constructed of local blond and red sandstone, these tenement flats have been extensively restored and modernised over the last two decades.
Paisley expanded steadily, particularly in the Victorian and Edwardian eras, creating many suburbs around the centre of the town. Castlehead is a wooded conservation area primarily made up of Victorian villas where many of the town's leading industrialists made their homes in the late 19th century. Thornly Park, another conservation area, is located to the south of the town, just off Neilston Road heading towards Barrhead. It contains a variety of architecture ranging from mock Tudor to Art Deco. Many of the houses were designed by W.D. McLennan, a contemporary of Charles Rennie MacIntosh. McLennan also designed several local churches such as St Matthew's and St Nazarene, which is located on Gordon Street.
Particularly following the Housing Act 1946, modern Paisley grew into the surrounding countryside and several large residential areas were created in the post-war period. These include portions of Glenburn (south), Foxbar (south west), Ferguslie Park (north west), Gallowhill (North East) and Hunterhill (South East). Gockston in the far north of the town has many terraced houses and, after regeneration has many detached and semi-detached houses as well as several blocks of flats. Dykebar, situated to the south east of the centre of the town, is a residential area which is also the site of a secure psychiatric hospital.
On the outskirts of the town are a number of settlements such as Ralston, a residential area in the far east bordering the city of Glasgow. Ralston was outside the Paisley burgh boundary when constructed in the 1930s but, as a result of local authority re-organisation in the 1990s, it is now generally regarded as a suburb of Paisley.
Weaving and textiles
Paisley, as with other areas in Renfrewshire, was at one time famous for its weaving and textile industries. As a consequence, the Paisley pattern has long symbolic associations with the town. Until the Jacquard loom was introduced in the 1820s, weaving was a cottage industry. This innovation led to the industrialisation of the process and many larger mills were created in the town. Also as a consequence of greater mechanisation, many weavers lost their livelihoods and left for Canada and Australia. Paisley was for many years a centre for the manufacture of cotton sewing thread. At the heyday of Paisley thread manufacture in the 1930s, there were 28,000 people employed in the huge Anchor and Ferguslie mills of J & P Coats Ltd, said to be the largest of their kind in the world at that time. In the 1950s, the mills diversified into the production of synthetic threads but production diminished rapidly as a result of less expensive imports from overseas and the establishment of mills in India and Brazil by J & P Coats. By the end of the 1993, there was no thread being produced in Paisley. Both industries have left a permanent mark on the town in the form of the many places with textile related names, for example, Dyer's Wynd, Cotton Street, Thread Street, Shuttle Street, Lawn Street, Silk Street, Mill Street, Gauze Street and Incle Street.
The town also supported a number of engineering works some of which relied on the textile industry, others on shipbuilding. Paisley once had five shipyards including John Fullerton and Company (1866–1928), Bow, McLachlan and Company (1872–1932) and Fleming and Ferguson (1877–1969). These have declined in the area, with engineering firms such as Fullerton, Hodgart and Barclay and Whites Engineering[clarification needed] closing in the mid-1970s.
A number of food manufacture companies have existed in Paisley. The preserve manufacturer Robertsons began in Paisley as a grocer whose wife started making marmalade from oranges in 1860. This product was successful and a factory was opened in Storie Street, Paisley, to produce it in 1866 and additional factories were later opened in Manchester, London and Bristol. The company was taken over by Rank Hovis McDougall who closed its Stevenson Street factory and transferred production to England in the 1970s. Brown and Polson was formed in Paisley in 1840 and two years later started producing starch for the weaving trades, by 1860 it was making food products including its patent cornflour. It later became CPC Foods Ltd, a subsidiary of Unilever, which produced Hellmann's mayonnaise, Gerber baby foods and Knorr soups. The company ceased production in Paisley in 2002.
A number of industries remained in the area until recent times. In 1981 Peugeot Talbot, formerly Chrysler and before that Rootes, announced that its Linwood factory just outside Paisley would cease production. This led to the loss of almost 5,000 jobs. Since the 1980s, a number of other employers have closed such as the British Gas distribution and service centre, Cadbury's distribution centre and William Grant & Sons the Scotch whisky producer which moved production to Strathclyde Business Park near Bellshill in Lanarkshire.
Some of the businesses remaining in the town are Scotch whisky blenders and bottlers Chivas Brothers, now a subsidiary of Pernod Ricard, and the pigment manufactory of the Swiss company Novartis. Both companies employ considerably fewer people than in the past. The public sector is now a significant employer in Paisley, with the headquarters of Renfrewshire Council, the largest campus of the University of the West of Scotland, the Paisley campus of West College Scotland (formerly Reid Kerr College) and the Royal Alexandra Hospital all located in the town. Glasgow International Airport, located on the edge of Paisley, is also a significant employer and part of the area's transport infrastructure. The airline Loganair's registered office is located within the airport complex.
UK City of Culture 2021 bid
In 2015, the town launched its bid to become UK City of Culture in 2021. That bid is taking place as part of a wider push to use culture and heritage to sell the town as a destination and boost the local economy, and includes a planned £56.7m transformation of Paisley Museum.
Although Paisley isn't technically a city, it is eligible to apply as the competition - run by the UK Government's Department of Culture, Media and Sport - is open to large towns and urban areas. The bid is due to be lodged in early 2017 and is being taken forward by a partnership including Renfrewshire Council, the University of the West of Scotland, West College Scotland, Renfrewshire Chamber of Commerce, Glasgow Airport and more.
As the administrative centre of the county of Renfrewshire, Renfrew District and, currently, Renfrewshire council area, Paisley is home to many significant civic buildings. Paisley Town Hall, adjacent to the Abbey, was funded by the will of George Aitken Clark, one of the Clark family, owners of the Anchor Mills. In competition, Sir Peter Coats funded the construction of the modern Paisley Museum and Central Library (1871), also in a neo-Classical style. The Clarks and Coats families dominated Paisley industry until their companies merged in 1896. Renfrewshire's former County Buildings, Police Station and Jail on County Square have been since demolished, and the County Council then met in a newer neo-classical building which now houses Paisley Sheriff Court.
Renfrewshire House, the modern headquarters of Renfrewshire Council, was constructed as Paisley Civic Centre. Designed by Hutcheson, Locke and Monk following a competition, the building was designed to house offices of both the county and town councils. It was intended to become a civic hub for Paisley but the absence of any shops and non-council premises prevented this from happening. It became the home of the Renfrew sub-region of Strathclyde Regional Council in 1975 and of Renfrewshire Council in 1996. It is listed by the conservation organisation DoCoMoMo as one of the sixty key Scottish monuments of the post-war period.
Most noticeable among the buildings of Paisley is its medieval Abbey in the centre of the town dating from the 12th century. The earliest surviving architecture is the south-east doorway in the nave from the cloister, which has a round arched doorway typical of Romanesque or Norman architecture which was the prevalent architectural style before the adoption of Gothic. The choir (east end) and tower date from the late 19th and early 20th centuries and are examples of Gothic Revival architecture. They were reconstructed in three main phases of restorations with the tower and choir conforming to the designs of Dr Peter MacGregor Chalmers. The roof in the nave is the most recent of restorations with the plaster ceiling by Rev Dr Boog which was added in the 1790s being replaced by a timber roof in 1981.
Thomas Coats Memorial Baptist Church, named for the industrialist Thomas Coats (1809–1883), is an example of Gothic Revival architecture. It dominates the town's skyline with its crown spire more than 60 metres (197 ft) high. Opened in 1894 and designed by Hippolyte Jean Blanc it is the largest Baptist church in Europe. The exterior is made of old red sandstone. Inside, the church is decorated with wood carvings, mosaic floors and marble fonts. The church also contains a 3040 pipe Hill Organ.
The St Mirin's Cathedral in Incle Street is the seat of the Catholic Bishop of Paisley. The church was completed in 1931 to replace an earlier building, in nearby East Buchanan Street, which dated from 1808. The original St Mirin's church was the first Catholic church to be built in Scotland since the Reformation. With the erection of the Diocese of Paisley in 1947 the church was raised to cathedral status.
St Matthew's Church (Church of the Nazarene) at the junction of Gordon Street and Johnston Street is Art Nouveau in style. Designed by local architect William Daniel McLennan, a contemporary of Charles Rennie Mackintosh, it was built in 1905–07.
As a result of its historic textile industry, Paisley is home to many examples of Victorian industrial architecture. Most notable is the Category A listed Anchor Mills, built in 1886. The building was converted in 2005 into residential flats. Textiles have a longer history in Paisley, represented by the Sma' Shot cottages complex on Shuttle Street: a small public museum of weaving from its 18th-century origins as a cottage industry.
Another landmark connected with the textile industry is the Dooslan Stane or Stone. The stone was a meeting place of the Weavers Union in the South of Paisley and was also used as a "soapbox" and was originally inscribed with its history (now largely faded). It was moved from its original site in the corner of Neilston Road and Rowan Street to its present location in Brodie Park. Also present, arranged around the Dooslan Stane, are the four original Paisley Tolbooth stones. The Dooslan Stane is still used today as the congregating point for the annual Sma' Shot parade which takes place on the first Saturday in July.
The composer Thomas Wilson's 1988 work Passeleth Tapestry (later his Fourth Symphony) commemorates the history of Paisley across a 30-minute single movement span. Commissioned by Renfrew District Council to mark Paisley's 500th anniversary as a burgh of barony, it was premiered on 6 August 1988 in Paisley Abbey with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra under Bryden Thomson.
A memorial also exists in the town to the legal case of Donoghue v Stevenson, also known as the Paisley Snail Case, which established the modern rules of negligence in Scots law and the legal systems of the Commonwealth.
Paisley is the main site for the modern University of the West of Scotland, which was created from a merger between the University of Paisley and Bell College in Hamilton, South Lanarkshire. The University of Paisley was granted university status in 1992, having existed previously as a central institution known as Paisley College of Technology. The further education college West College Scotland has a campus in the town; this institution was previously known as Reid Kerr College.
There are currently four comprehensive state secondary schools in Paisley: Paisley Grammar School, Castlehead High School, St. Andrew's Academy and Gleniffer High School. The oldest of these is Paisley Grammar which was founded in 1576 and was one of two former grammar schools in the town – alongside the former John Neilson Institution (latterly John Neilson High School) founded in 1852. Other former secondary schools in the area include Merksworth High School (to the north west of the town), St Mirin's Academy or High School (on the west side of the town), St Aelred's High School and Stanely Green High School (both on the south side of the town). Of the current secondary schools in the town, all are non-denominational save for St Andrew's Academy which is a Roman Catholic school.
Paisley is home to a number of religious denominations and is an important historical centre for the Christian faith in Scotland. The town's historic patron saint is Saint Mirin (or Mirren); according to legendary accounts, Mirin settled in Paisley as a missionary sent from Ireland in the 6th century and was instrumental in bringing the relics of St Andrew to Scotland. Paisley Abbey, one of the towns most significant landmarks, was constructed as a priory in the 12th century and raised to abbey status in the 13th. It served as an ecclesiastical centre for a wide area surrounding the county of Renfrewshire for centuries until the Reformation when such religious centres were reduced to the status of parish churches. For the Church of Scotland, Paisley forms part of the Presbytery of Greenock and Paisley in the Synod of Clydesdale (see: Church of Scotland synods and presbyteries).
Other Christian communities have a number of churches in Paisley, many of which were the result of the Industrial Revolution where people from around the British Isles came to Paisley for work. The Roman Catholic Diocese of Paisley, created in 1947, is centred upon the town's St Mirin's Cathedral, the seat of the Bishop of Paisley. Paisley also forms part of the Episcopalian (Anglican) Diocese of Glasgow and Galloway with its main facilities being contained at the Holy Trinity and St Barnabas Church in the town centre, a congregation which united in 2004. There are currently two Baptist congregations in Paisley: in addition to Thomas Coats Memorial Baptist Church (see under "Landmarks - religious sites") is Central Baptist Church, which meets in nearby Lady Lane. Paisley is home to a meetinghouse of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints located on Glenburn Road.
Other smaller religious groups exist in the town. The Methodist Church of Great Britain has a church and central hall opposite Paisley Abbey which forms part of the Ayrshire and Renfrewshire Circuit. The Christadelphians meet in a hall on Alice Street.
Historically, Paisley was notable as being the religious home of the Stewart family who descended from Walter FitzAlan, the first High Steward of Scotland and founder of Paisley Abbey, eventually becoming the Scottish and British Royal Family. The Stewarts once resided at a castle in nearby Renfrew. All six of the High Stewards are buried in the Abbey, as is Marjorie Bruce – the eldest daughter of Robert I of Scotland (Robert the Bruce) – who married the 6th High Steward thus founding the Stewart dynasty. The first Stewart King of Scotland and son of Marjorie Bruce and Walter Stewart, Robert II, is believed to have been born in the Abbey. His son, Robert III is buried there.
Other notable people associated with Paisley include:
- John Amabile (interior designer)
- Gerard Butler (actor)
- John Byrne (artist and playwright)
- Tom Conti (actor)
- Kari Corbett (actress)
- Whisky David (1947–2011) (musician and singer/songwriter) 
- Jim Dewar (musician and singer/songwriter
- Joe Egan (musician and songwriter)
- Graham Fulton (poet)
- Anya Gallaccio (artist)
- Alexander Gardner (photographer)
- Alexander Goudie (artist)
- Fergus Hall (painter, illustrator, educator)
- William Hart (artist)
- Matt Healy, (actor)
- Thomas Kibble Hervey (poet and critic)
- Evelyn Hood (author)
- Kenny Ireland (director and actor)
- Jill Jackson (singer/songwriter)
- Graeme Kelling (1957–2004) (musician from pop group Deacon Blue)
- Diane Lawrence (author, singer/songwriter)
- Carol Laula (singer/soungwriter)
- Patricia Leitch (children's author)
- Phyllis Logan (actor)
- Paul McGillion (actor)
- Neve McIntosh (actress)
- Fulton Mackay (actor)
- Kenneth McKellar (tenor)
- James McMillan (author and historian)
- Ron McMillan (photojournalist and novelist)
- Kelly Marie (singer)
- Steven Moffat (screenwriter)
- Brendan Mullen (author/nightclub owner)
- Hector Nicol (singer, comedian and actor)
- Paolo Nutini (singer/songwriter)
- Alan Orr (actor/musician)
- Gerry Rafferty (musician and singer/songwriter)
- John Reid (impresario)
- David Sneddon (singer/songwriter)
- Alexander Stoddart, Her Majesty's Sculptor in Ordinary in Scotland
- Robert Tannahill (1774–1810) (poet)
- Paul Telfer (actor)
- David Tennant (actor)
- Tom Urie (actor/musician)
- Alexander Wilson (poet, ornithologist)
- Nick Currie (singer/songwriter, journalist)
- Andrew Neil (journalist and television presenter)
- Derek Ogilvie (self proclaimed psychic)
- David Stow (educationalist)
- George Adam (politician, current MSP for Paisley)
- Douglas Alexander (politician, ex MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire South)
- Wendy Alexander (politician)
- H. H. Asquith (MP from 1920-4)
- John Barr, (member of the New Zealand Legislative Council)
- Mhairi Black (politician, MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire South)
- Sir William Dunn, 1st Baronet, of Lakenheath (politician)
- Willie Gallacher (politician)
- Ian Hamilton (lawyer and nationalist)
- Hugh Henry (politician)
- George Murdoch (politician, first mayor of Calgary, Canada)
- Sandra Osborne (politician)
- Andrew Sinclair (surgeon, botanist, public servant, and politician in New Zealand)
- Robert Archibald (basketball player)
- Archie Scott Brown (racing driver)
- Owen Coyle (footballer)
- Gordon Durie (footballer)
- David Hay (footballer)
- Tom Forsyth (footballer)
- Paul Gallacher (footballer)
- Archie Gemmill (footballer)
- James Grady (footballer)
- Dale Greig (holder of the women's world record for the marathon in 1964)
- Majid Haq (Scottish international cricketer, all time leading Scottish wicket taker as of 2015)
- Jamie Langfield (footballer)
- Derek McInnes (footballer)
- Micky Mellon (footballer and Tranmere Rovers FC manager)
- Campbell Money (footballer)
- Paul Lambert (footballer)
- Robbie Neilson (footballer)
- Brian O'Neil (footballer)
- Lee Peacock (footballer)
- Mark Ralph (Scottish international hockey player)
- Bernie Slaven (footballer)
- Brian Smith (Olympic cyclist)
- Alasdair Strokosch (Scottish international rugby player)
- Elaine Vassie (Rugby Coach)
- Callum Hawkins (Athletics)
- Archibald Barr (scientific engineer)
- Robert Broom (palaeontologist)
- Ronald Ian Currie (oceanographer)
- David Eccles (businessman)
- Samuel Evans VC (Crimean war hero)
- John Glassford (tobacco lord)
- John Hannah VC (RAF sergeant)
- Arthur Henderson VC (army captain)
- Jason Kerr (mathematician)
- Jimmy Kinnon (founder of Narcotics Anonymous)
- Alan Linn (club owner)
- Andrew Millar (18th century bookseller)
- Hugh McIver VC MM&Bar (Army private)
- James McKechnie VC (army sergeant)
- Archie McKellar (Battle of Britain ace)
- Trevor Sorbie (hairdresser)
- Robert II of Scotland (king)
- James Goodfellow (Inventor; ATM and PIN)
Paisley has one local daily newspaper, the Paisley Daily Express, which is owned by the Trinity Mirror Group. Various local radio stations have operated at times, including Q96 from 1992 to 2007 – serving the Renfrewshire area, although for a considerable period based in neighbouring Glasgow. Its replacement, Glasgow-based Guardian Media Group station 96.3 Rock Radio carries Renfrewshire focused material. Since October 2011 Rock Radio, faced with falling advertising revenue, was rebranded by Guardian Media Group as Real Radio XS after a proposed management buyout failed to materialise.
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St Mirren F.C. is Paisley's sole professional association football team and it's currently playing in the Scottish Championship. In 2009, the team moved from their Love Street stadium to a new 8,029 stadium known formally as St Mirren Park on Greenhill Road. The stadium was later renamed to The Paisley 2021 Stadium to mark the town's bid to be Uk City of Culture in 2021.
St Mirren last won the Scottish Cup on 16 May 1987. Since then, the club has won the Scottish First division title twice, in the 1999–2000 season, and in the 2005–06 season, as well as winning the Challenge Cup in 2005. The club won for the first time in its history the Scottish League Cup on Sunday 17 March 2013. In addition to professional football, the club is also involved in youth development and social projects in the town. Another professional football team, Abercorn F.C., was based in Paisley until its decline and liquidation in 1920.
Basketball has a strong history in Paisley. St Mirren is a leading basketball team currently competing in Division 1 of the Scottish National League. The team was formed in 1997 and are regular challengers at the top of the table. They have won the National League title once, in 2000, and have won the Scottish Cup three times (1999, 2002 and 2012). Previously, Paisley BC were one of Scotland's strongest teams in the heyday of the 1970s and 1980s. The team broke the dominance of Edinburgh based Boroughmuir, who had won the National League title in the previous nine seasons, with their triumph in 1979. Including their merger to become PSG, Paisley would spend thirty seasons in the top division of Scottish basketball, right from the National League's formation in 1969 through to 2000. After disappearing for more than a decade, the club has been revived.
Paisley Rugby Club is an amateur rugby union club based at the Anchor Recreation Grounds in Paisley. The club is currently in the Scottish BT West Division 2. The club runs two adult teams and a host of youth teams. The 1st XV is coached by Grant Sweenie and Les Wilson and captained by David Dodd for the forthcoming 2015/16 season. The 2nd XV is captained by Scott Glover. With a mix of youth and experience, Paisley's first XV secured a 6th-placed finish in BT West Division 2, after gaining promotion for finishing 2nd in BT West Division 3 the previous year. Paisley 2nd XV secured their best ever league position of 5th placed in the BT Reserve League West 2 2014/15 season.
Paisley is also home to the Kelburne Hockey Club, who have dominated Scottish domestic hockey in the last 3 seasons. Kelburne HC run 5 gentlemen's teams, 3 ladies' teams and have over 100 juniors regularly competing for the club at district and national level. Kelburne HC has also supplies the Scottish National Team with the vast majority of the gentlemen's team. The club has also had success in Europe with recent tournament victories in Austria and Switzerland.
Motorcycle speedway was staged at St Mirren Park (Love Street) in 1975 and 1976 when the Paisley Lions raced in the second division of the British League. The Lions were moderately successful but despite the best efforts of their supporters, the venue ceased to operate.
Paisley is connected by road to the United Kingdom's motorway network with the M8 running along the northern edge of the town, providing access to Greenock to the west and Glasgow to the east. This forms part of the unsigned E05 Euroroute from Greenock to Gibraltar. Many major A roads converge through the town including the A726, A737 and A761. The Strathclyde Partnership for Transport, a public body, has direct operational responsibilities covering the area, such as supporting (and in some cases running) local bus services in Paisley and across Strathclyde.
The town is served by four railway stations and linked by rail to Glasgow city centre as well as Inverclyde and the Ayrshire coast. Paisley Gilmour Street is the largest of the stations, with smaller stations at Paisley St James, Paisley Canal and Hawkhead. The rail links also connect to Glasgow Prestwick International Airport and ferry routes to Dunoon, the Isle of Arran, Isle of Bute and Northern Ireland. Over the years there have been thirteen railway stations in Paisley and three rail lines that are now closed (The Paisley and Barrhead District Railway, the Barrhead Branch of the GSWR, and the Paisley and Renfrew Railway). Paisley Canal station and the Paisley Canal Line owe their names to the Glasgow, Paisley and Johnstone Canal which occupied the route of the line until 1885, when it was filled in.
Glasgow International Airport, operated by AGS Airports and Scotland's largest airport, is located to the north of Paisley at Abbotsinch. It is adjacent to the M8 Motorway and served by a bus link from Paisley Gilmour Street railway station. The planned Glasgow Airport Rail Link project, which was to run through Paisley, was abandoned in 2009. As mentioned above, Glasgow Prestwick Airport in Ayrshire is directly accessible by rail from Paisley Gilmour Street station.
Paisley lies within the Renfrewshire and Inverclyde Division of the Scottish police service and is one of three Area Commands in that division. Paisley is divided into five community policing areas: Paisley North-west (incorporating Glasgow International Airport); Paisley South-west; Paisley East and Ralston; Paisley South; Gallowhill (as part of Renfrew and Gallowhill). Gallowhill is covered by the Renfrew Area Command. For judicial purposes, the area forms part of the sheriffdom of North Strathclyde and public prosecutions are directed by the Procurator Fiscal for Argyll and Clyde. There is a Sheriff Court at Paisley, which occasionally houses sittings of Scotland's High Court of Justiciary.
NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde is the National Health Service Board serving Paisley and the town's main hospital with accident and emergency facilities is the Royal Alexandra Hospital. Strathclyde Fire and Rescue is the statutory fire and rescue service covering Paisley, with one community fire station on the town's Canal Street.
Water and sewerage is provided in Paisley by Scottish Water, a public body, and water and sewerage charges are collected alongside council tax by Renfrewshire Council, the local authority, on its behalf. Renfrewshire Council is also responsible for the provision of waste management in the area. Paisley's Distribution Network Operator, the organisation licensed to transmit electricity from the National Grid to consumers, is Scottish Power.
Paisley is twinned with:
- Paisley RFC
- Castlehead, Paisley
- University of the West of Scotland
- Paisley canal disaster
- Paisley Witches
- Inkerman, Paisley
- Paisley (design)
- Paisley Grammar School
- Castlehead High School
- St Mirin's Academy
- Gleniffer High School
- Barshaw Park
- Fountain Gardens
- St Mirren F.C.
- Gleniffer Braes
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