A few weeks ago, Stephen in his role as the Vice-chair & Historian of Paisley Thread Mill Museum spoke with Neil from History Scotland Magazine for one of their Podcasts. You can listen to the full broadcast through the link below. The Paisley Thread Mill Museum portion starts at 16 minutes in.
Paisley in March 1838
On the 1st of March 1838 Messers Barr and McNab of the Abercorn launched the first ever steamer built on the white Cart. This iron boat was 38.1 meters in length a breadth of 4.27 meters and had a depth of 2.84 meters. The hull weighed 45 tons.
The Royal Victoria was pulled by by block and tackle, on rollers from the Abercorn Yard to a field opposite Carlile’s thread mill where she entered the water broadside. As she entered the water several guns and a small cannon were fired, and thousands of spectators on both sides of the river cheered. Provost Drummond named the ship and broke the bottle, naming her the ‘Royal Victoria’
The canon used accidentally burst, injuring a a young boy, who later died.
On the 3rd March a letter was sent by the Provost to Lord Melbourne PM, where he states that in line with the an act of Parliament 2 years early, he was pleased to report that the Cart was now navigable from the Clyde to Paisley, and asking him to inform her Majesty the Queen of the launch of the ‘Royal Victoria’ to show her the esteem in which she was held by the people of Paisley.
A few days later on the 6th March an answer was received from Lord Melbourne:
“Downing Street, March 6, 1838.
i beg to acknowledge your letter of the 3rd instant, which I have received this morning. I have without delay submitted it to Her Majesty. she was pleased to express herself most gratified by this demonstration of affection and attachment of the inhabitants of Paisley.
I am, sir,
your faithful and obedient servant,
On the 13th of April, 1838, the “Royal Victoria” got up steam and went down the river. She ran from the mouth of the Cart to Greenock in one hour and a quarter. The figurehead represented the Queen with a scepter in hand and crowned, although the coronation ceremony had not then been performed ; the stern windows had a portrait of the Queen, above which was the Regalia, and the Paisley arms below. On the 25th of April, 1838, the following advertisement appeared:
The encouragement given to the ” Royal Victoria” was not sufficient to maintain her on the Cart. She was soon, therefore, withdrawn from that river, and ran for a time between Glasgow, Largs, and intervening ports. In the month of June, 1838, she was advertised for sale.
By an arrangement entered into between the County and Burgh authorities, an Act of Parliament was obtained in 1887, under which the County authorities renounced their interest in the old County Buildings in County Square, and they erected the new County Buildings, which contain a County Hall, offices for the County Clerk, Treasurer and Collector, the County Road Clerk, the Justice of Peace Clerk, the Health and Sanitary Department, County Police Office with cells and other requirements, and a Justice of Peace Court Hall. The buildings were completed in 1891, from designs prepared by Mr George Bell, Architect, Glasgow, at a cost of £32,000. On the Frieze there is some fine Sculpture work, executed by Mr Frederick W Pomeroy, R.A., London.
The County Hall is large, and finished with great taste. In one of the rooms there is a fine Portrait of Sir Michael R. Shaw Stewart, Bart., the respected Convener of the County, painted by Professor Hubert Herkomer, R.A., London, and one of George, Fourth Earl of Glasgow, painted by Colvin Smith, R.S.A., Edinburgh.
The Sheriff Court Building adjoins the County Buildings on the west. It is in the Italian style, and was completed in 1885, at a cost of £22,000, from designs prepared by Mr Bell, Architect of the County Buildings. It contains a large and commodious Court Hall with accessories, and rooms for the Sheriff and Sheriff-Substitute, and offices for the Sheriff-Clerk and Procurator-Fiscal, and a Library for the Procurators.
Ionic in style, with a tetrastyla portico and wings, this fine building was gifted to the town by the late Sir Peter Coats of Woodside. Originally £15,000 was expended on the structure, which was handed by the donor to the town, on condition that the Free Library Act was adopted. It was opened for public use in 1871. A few years after this it was found that the building was very inadequate for the increasing demands on its usefulness. With his usual liberality, Sir Peter Coats came forward to supply this, and in 1880 he proposed, at his own expense, to make an addition to the Lending Library, to give a more commodious room for the Reference Library; to make a large addition to the Museum, with a Sculpture Room and Picture Gallery. This handsome addition was opened in 1882.
In the Libraries there are over 25,000 volumes of standard literature, 7000 of which were received from the old Paisley Library, which was founded in 1802, and ceased to exist when the Free Library was opened. The Reference Library contains over 6000 volumes, 5000 of these having been presented by the Paisley Philosophical Society, which was established in 1806. Both libraries have been extensively patronised from their foundation onwards, and their influence for good on the community has been incalculable.
The Museum is rich in Natural History, in relics of the Past, and in specimens of Industrial Arts of the town and country generally. In every respect the Institution is one of singular completeness, and the visitor is strongly recommended to make acquaintance with its Natural History, Antiquarian, Artistic and Industrial treasures.
The free library and museum were very popular, so much so that the building again outgrew the extensions add by Peter Clark. The new extension, designed by the firm of Honeyman, Keppie and Mackintosh. It cost £7,000 which was donated by James Coats, son of Peter Coats. The extension was designed with a narrower version of the original temple front of what is now the museumand opened in 1904.