Paisley back in time: Exploring the historic town’s heritage in 9 pictures

Old pictures of Paisley show a very different town to what we know today

Paisley is often referred to as the ‘town that thread built’ - but that’s hardly the case, the only people that could have spun that thread were the good people of the town, some of the hardest working industrialists Scotland has known.

Beginning as a small encampment that the Romans reffered to as ‘Vanduara’ - Paisley is now Scotland’s biggest town, with a population of around 77,000. The story goes that the foundations of Paisley were built by Saint Mirin, who erected a chapel between the 6th and 7th century - turning the area into the West of Scotland’s central hub for Christianity.

It wasn’t until 1163 that the town as we know it began to form with the construction of Paisley Abbey by the Steward of Scotland, Walter Fitz Alan. The Abbey didn’t just bring more religion to the town, it brought traders, quickly turning Paisley into a mercantile centre.

In 1307 the original Abbey burned down - and it wasn’t replaced until the 15th century, over 100 years later. This Abbey is what we know today, barely touch apart from some restoration work in the early 20th century.

Paisley had already lived a pretty full life spanning hundreds of years, wearing many hats in that time - but by the 18th century, what we Paisley for today would start to creep in with the industrial revolution.

There were so many mills in Paisley, that the shawls bearing the ‘Persian boteh’ would begin to be known as the ‘Paisley pattern’ due to how much of it was manufactured in Paisley.

It was this high level of industrialism that birthed many Paisley radicals, who stood in opposition to the foremen and company men that ran the factories. This spirit of resistance lives even today in the modern people of Paisley.

In this article we wanted to take a look at old pictures of Paisley, to see just how much the town has changed.