Category: Blog

Year of Stories – blog 1

Today, 10th January 2022, I should have been delivering a zoom talk to the Ontario Genealogical Societies Scottish Interest Group on Paisley Weavers. Unfortunately, I have had no voice for the last 5 days and the talk has been rescheduled for late February. Hopefully the voice returns soon, but it hasn’t stopped me reading or preparing notes and materials for walks, talks and blogs.

2022 is the Scottish Year of Stories, and throughout the year I plan on posting new blog posts on a regular basis looking at aspects of Paisley & Renfrewshire’s history that have never been told, based on local families & businesses away from the usual textile history of the area.

The first blog post will be published later this week and will introduce you to a Paisley family that had a a successful business in town and made a big impact in America, yet remain unrecorded in Paisleys history

If you a story about your ancestors that you would like to share and maybe find out a bit more about them, please contact us via our contact us page.

New for 2022

Launching in late 2022 we have our first in person course since early 2020. We will be using a new venue – Paisley St George’s church on Causeyside Street in Paisley which is close to bus roots and has a car park at its rear.

The first course will start on Monday 24th January at 7pm we will start looking at “Beginners Genealogy” a 4 week course introducing you to researching your family history using Scottish Records. On the 7th March we will start a new 4 week course looking at ‘Renfrewshire’s Archaeology’.

Courses cost £60 each and will be available to book from Monday 22nd November 2021

More details will be published shortly.

New for autum & winter heritage walking tours

We now have specialised walking tour headsets available for our Heritage Walks starting from our Old Paisley Walk on the 16th October 2021. The receiver takes a standard set of earphones using a 3.5mm jack. We can provide a set of earphones or you are welcome to bring your own. Our earphones will be sanitised before and after use, along with the receiver.

Using the headsets allows more social distancing and allows you to hear the guide a lot clearer (and also help save the guides voice!) If you want to make use of the headset please let us know in advance or at the start of any of the walks you are booked on.

Autumn & Winter Heritage Walks 2021

Our autumn & winter heritage walks are back and now being slowly added to our website. We begin on the 14th October with a walk exploring old Paisley from the top of Causeyside Street down to Paisley Abbey. On the 30th October we have a new walk – Paisley & witches that will explore the true story behind Paisley’s connection to witch hunts and other myths connected to witches on the town. The timings of the walks change slightly for the winter meeting at 1pm and finishing around 3pm.

We aim to have all the events online this week, with the October walks up by tonight. The full schedule is shown below

A familiar building??


So what is this building in the picture? It is on Paisley High Street, close to two Paisley landmarks, but today it is a lot different!

The two canons might just give it away. This is the original Volunteer Drill Hall, between Coats Memorial Church and Paisley Museum & Art Gallery.

I’m not sure when this building was constructed, but by 1896 it is described as being 130 feet long, 50 feet wide and more than a useful ornament! In 1896 plans were in place to replace it with a more commodious hall and office space for the volunteers.

The Commanding Officer was Sir Thomas Glen Coats and the local force consisted of 25 officers, 45 sergeants and 644 rank and file men.

October 2021 Dinner Talk

Following our successful dinner talk at Pendulum in August, we have now organised a follow-up Dinner Talk at Pendulum Scottish Kitchen & Bar for Tuesday 12th October at 6.30pm. The topic of the talk will be on the early linen thread making industry in Scotland, looking at Christian Shaw’s (of Bargarran witch-hunt fame) involvement in the industry and the establishment of the Scottish spinning schools.

Meeting in the private dining are we will enjoy a 2 course meal from the Market Menu (you’re responsible for any extras and drinks) followed by the talk.

All of this for £25 to reserve your place a deposit of £10 is due, with the remainder paid on the night.

Bookings have now closed


Code: UH-Pendulum-Oct12 Date: Tuesday 12th October 2021 Time 6.30pm. Meeting Point: Private Dinining Room, Pendulum, Gauze St, Paisley.

Cost £25.00 (£10 deposit due on booking – remainder on night. Includes standard 2 course meal from the Market Menu – you’re responsible for any extras and drinks)) By booking a ticket you accept that the Urban Historian cannot provide refunds if you are unable to attend the event as the circumstances are outwith the Urban Historian’s Control. If the event is cancelled by the Urban Historian a refund or opportunity to attend another event will be provided.

Fridays are history days

We have two projects running on Friday’s from the 27th August.

The Glenburn Buddies History Skills Project is teaching a group of local residents how to carryout historical research over a 10 week period on Friday mornings.

The Glenburn Heritage Group drop-in sessions began on the the 20th August and run every Friday afternoon. All are to come along and tell your stories of living in Glenburn

Discover Paisley!

We have just published our Heritage Walks for August to early October 2021. Under the general theme of Discover Paisley, we have a mix of old and new heritage walking tours running every Saturday, other than the 4th September when we will be running a Doors Open Day event at Paisley St George’s Outreach Centre in Glenburn.

Our scheduled walks include: Seedhill & Anchor Mills, The Threads of Paisley, Early Paisley, Woodside & a new Paisley Mystery Tour. The mystery tour will run several times over the next few months and it can also be booked as a bespoke tour by contacting us if you are visiting Paisley at a time when it is not scheduled.

See our Event Calendar for full information on each event.

The Parish of Neilston

Today not many people think of Neilston as being part of Renfrewshire. It sits in the modern day council area of East Renfrewshire, which was separated from the old county of Renfrew along with inverclyde at the last local government reform.

It is said that Neilston derrives its name for a person called Neil, who settled in the4 vicinity of the parish church in antiquity and called his settlement ‘Neils-toun’. One of the first written records for Neilston comes in 1227 when the church of Neilston is granted to Paisley Abbey by William de Hertford (any guesses as to where he was from?) in return for half of the corn tithes of Thornton. This grant was confirmed in 1227 by the Bishop of Glasgow and Pope Honorius. An agreement between the Paisley monks and the Bishop of Glasgow allowed the church to be used by the Abbey for its own purposes exempt any financial demands from the Bishop or See of Glasgow.

The Abbey held the church of Neilston until the reformation. They employed a curate to hold regular services and took the income from the church to help support the Abbey. The surviving rental books for Paisley Abbey show that the properties of the church of Neilston were leased out to the value of £66 13 shillings and 4 pence per year. From the reformation, until 1587 it was held by Claud Hamilton, the last Commendator (Lay Abbot) of Paisley Abbey. In 1587 the entire estate of Paisley Abbey was given to Claud Hamilton as a heritable Estate, and he took the title Lord Claud Hamilton. The estate of Paisley Abbey, including Neilston, was inherited by Claud’s grandson, James Earl of Abercorn who then sold the estate in 1652 to the Earl of Angus. Within a year the lands had been sold on again to William, Lord Cochran in 1653.. The patronage of the church at Neilston was acquired by Alexander Speirs of Elderslie in 1775.

The current Parish Church was built in 1762, with it’s spire and clock. The Village held four annual fairs and was home to 472 individuals in 1791, by 1821 the population had almost doubled to 800. Within the parish itself, there were other manufacturing villages, with the population of Parish in 1755 being 1299 individuals, rising to 6548 individuals in 1821.

 © Copyright John Allan and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

 © Copyright John Allan and licensed for reuse 
under this Creative Commons Licence.
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