A museum telling the story of Paisley's thread mill heritage. Admission free.
Good to see our 'old' Anchor Thread Works glass doors in the Heritage Centre's Virtual Doors Open Day video!
Our friends at Sma’ Shot Cottages are closed just as we are just now and need some help!
SOS - Save Our Sma' Shot Cottages!
Thanks to your support, we’ve ALMOST reached our target!
Let’s not stop there! Any additional funds raised will be utilised not only in covering day-to-day expenses and essential roof maintenance, but the on-going preservation of the built fabric of the Cottages and the collections held within - a precious resource of Paisley’s history.
You can help raise money for the Old Paisley Society, Sma' Shot Cottages, by donating online via the following link:
JustGiving sends your donation straight to the Old Paisley Society, Sma' Shot Cottages, and automatically reclaims Gift Aid if you are a UK taxpayer, so your donation is worth even more!
As always, your donations, likes, comments and shares are truly appreciated, and we send our sincerest thanks for your support.
Take care, spread love and share kindness. With much love from all of the volunteers of the Old Paisley Society, Sma’ Shot Cottages.
Paisley - Oor Wee Toon & Environs
End of an Era for the Coats family of the original J & P Coats
Sir William Coats ( the last member of the Coats family to be chairman)
Former chairman of the family threadmaking firm; Born July 25, 1924; Died May 1, 2009.
Sir William Coats, who has died aged 84, was the last member of the renowned Coats family to head the historic Paisley threadmaking company that still bears their name.
Sir William was the great-great-grandson of James Coats, who built a small thread factory behind his house in Ferguslie, Paisley, in 1826, that grew into the world's largest public company at the turn of the twentieth century.
It is now a billion-pound global enterprise, Coats plc, the world's largest supplier of industrial thread, but it is owned by the London-based investment firm Guinness Peat Group, and the Coats family connection is no more. It is also long since gone from Paisley.
Sir William worked all his life for the firm, initially known as J & P Coats but, after a 1960 merger, Coats Patons. He was chairman of Coats Patons from 1981 until his retirement in 1986.
Although one of Sir William's surviving sons, Brian, also worked for the firm, he, too, is now retired, leaving the family represented only in the famous name.
William David Coats was born in Glasgow, son of Thomas Heywood Coats of Levernholme, Nitshill, where the young William grew up, and Olivia Pitman. The house is now a nursing home.
Following family tradition, he went south for his education, first to the prestigious Lockers Park boarding school, Hertfordshire, and then to Eton.
Immediately on leaving school, he served with the Royal Artillery and the Royal Indian Artillery from 1943-47, latterly as a captain. He fought in the Far East towards the end of the war, an experience which, according to his family, he never talked about.
He married Elizabeth MacAndrew, daughter of the 1st Baron MacAndrew, in 1950.
He joined J & P Coats in January 1948, serving in various positions until he was named a director of Coats Patons after the 1960 merger. He was appointed deputy chairman in 1979 and chairman two years later.
He also served as a director of numerous institutions, including Clydesdale Bank, where he served for many years as deputy chairman, the Caledonian Trust and the Weir Group.
In the year of his retirement, 1986, after another merger, the threadmaking company became known for several years as Coats Viyella before being renamed as the current Coats, now also the world's second largest zip manufacturer and based in Uxbridge, Middlesex.
Although he was occasionally assigned to Coats' factories abroad, notably in Italy and Mexico, Sir William spent most of his career based in Glasgow.
One of his proudest achievements was putting the Coats pension fund on an even keel during difficult times in the 1970s by cutting the company's dividend payments. It was an unpopular move in the City but it proved to be prescient and the current Coats pension fund is considered to be one of the best-funded and most successful in the world.
He was awarded an honorary law degree, LLD, by Strathclyde University in 1977 and knighted in the 1985 New Year's honours list.
Sir William retired to his home in Symington, Ayrshire, where he tended his cherished lawn, his dahlias and azaleas.
He also shot pheasant, grouse and duck, and played at Prestwick Golf Club, where, at 6ft 3ins, he towered over the tee and served for a time as club captain.
He also dedicated much of his time towards cancer research and was a former chairman of the Glasgow appeals committee of the Cancer Research Campaign. According to his family, punitive death duties meant he received only a fraction of his inheritance from his wealthy father at the peak of the company's success.
Sir William Coats died of pneumonia in Malin Court care home, Turnberry, where he had been looked after for almost three years, suffering from Alzheimer's.
He is survived by his wife Elizabeth, sons Adrian and Brian, daughter Frances, and grandchildren Julia, Rachel, Andrew, Alistair, Alexandra and Jonathan.
By PHIL DAVISON . The Glasgow Herald
Ferguslie mill,Half-time school,Home time, working girls , Ferguslie mill
All of our volunteers are missing our wee museum at the moment but unfortunately we still aren’t able to open.
As you can see from the first picture, the corridor that houses some of our displays is quite narrow and there is no room to socially distance. This means that our displays in the corridor are currently off limits to visitors. We are in a generallly quite small but public space and want to take care not to put any of our visitors or volunteers at risk.
We are regularly reviewing the situation and hope to be open again soon
Meantime you can visit our online shop where you can find bags, tea towels and other souvenirs. Every purchase helps us with running costs at this difficult time.
Paisley - Oor Wee Toon & Environs
Paisley Mills Strike 1959
Work came to a standstill at three Ferguslie Mills when, on the 21st May, 1959, a number of men and women walked out over a 'Time and Motion' study which caused two men to be suspended because they did not keep up with the quota demanded. The Union of Dyers, Bleachers and Textile Workers withdrew 700 workers , 450 Women and 250 Men, employees of the Spinning, Twisting and Turning departments.
The Strike later spread to other departments as well as to the Anchor Mills and Kinning Park Depot of J&P Coats, causing as many as 1,700 of the 6,000 workers to strike over a period of Five and a Half Weeks, one of the worst and longest strikes ever to have affected the Paisley Mills. Workers began returning to work from June 29th.
Abbey Mill Business Centre
Inspired by the popular TV shows, looking at the history of an individual house, or street - instead here is the story of Isabella Gibb, a wee girl who received a beautiful certificate for her good work, at the Ferguslie Half Timers School, in 1896.
The Renfrewshire mill owners encouraged workers to access education, and acknowledged and supported their efforts, often with financial and other rewards. This beautiful certificate was awarded to …
One of our volunteers was in the museum today to check all was okay and post out some Mill tea towels to a customer. The whole building is so very quiet at the moment. Our volunteer took all necessary precautions and was behind a home made face mask for safety.
So many buildings are associated with the Mills. Great to see those that survive.
Coats’ Girls’ Club
Glad to see that work is progressing to restore the former Coats’ Girls’ Club in the West End of Paisley. The building fronting Ferguslie has been on the Buildings at Risk Register for several years in contrast to the attached former hostel which was converted to flats some time ago.
It was built 1899-1901 together with the former Coats Girls' Hostel on Maxwellton Road to the designs of Thomas Graham Abercrombie in a Spanish Renaissance style. It was intended that the club would be used for “purposes of reading and recreation and social intercourse, and will be open to all girl-workers in the mills, those comfortably circumstanced as to homes as well as others”. In the interwar period the club offered girls free classes in dressmaking, cooking, gymnastics, as well as a Girl Guides group.
At one point the building housed the original museum for the Coats business, which was situated on the first floor and had various ephemera associated with the business on display, including old machinery. 'Training within Industry' and the Employment Office were situated in this building in the early 1950s before becoming the Sea Cadets Building in the 60s. During this time, it was dubbed HMS Grenville, named after the ill-fated ship which was ‘adopted’ by the community of Paisley in 1942. The Sea Cadets were the last users of the building and it has lain vacant since their relocation in 2009. Like many other vacant buildings in the town, it became subject to vandalism and ended up in a dilapidated state.
Renfrewshire council offered the building for sale in 2012 with a private buyer snapping it up for £10k shorlty thereafter. An application for its conversion into 3 flats and 1 dwelling house was approved by Renfrewshire Council in 2014. Work seems to have stalled since then but it appears to have recently recommenced with the installation of new windows. Hopefully it will not be too long before this building is ready for new residents!
I found this wonderful photo on the Paisley Thread Mill Museum website.
It shows some gentlemen sitting on packing cases, marked with the words "Highland Brigade, South Africa".
The writing at the side of the image reads, "For our heroes in South Africa."
The picture is not dated, but might relate to this newspaper article from February, 1900.
Interesting article from Royal School of Needlework about the School in war time, which mentions J & P Coats and Clarks threads. The museum is lucky to have a large collection of the Briggs military badge collection mentioned and one of our volunteers has completed one of the these designs for display.
Over the VE Day weekend, the RSN will be sharing history and stories of our activities during the war period when our work for the war effort did not stop!
Many Paisley and Renfrewshire thread mill workers travelled all over the world to support the setting up, and everyday working of the overseas operations of J & P Coats.
This is Jessie Cockburn's story.
Jessie Cockburn – Thread Mill Worker to Royal Governess Two entries in a Catalogue from Bonhams Auction House, from July 2014, provide the starting point for an interesting tale of a Paisley …
A wee reminder of that time when the amazing Bobbin decoration on the ceiling, down at the main entrance, was being installed.
Textile Research Centre
A set of two most intriguing volumes on needlework was recently auctioned by Northeast Auctions (USA). They include “A Concise Account of the Mode of Instructing in Needle-Work… ” printed by Thomas I. White, Dublin, 1833, and “Specimens of Needle-Work Executed in the Female Model School…” printed by George Folds. Both books include samples of sewing, darning, embroidery, knitting, and, spectacularly, items of miniature clothing.
It’s 4 years since we moved to the mezzanine level in Mile End. Hopefully we will be back there soon.
In the past few weeks, we have been moving from our old home to our new home in Mile End mill. Here is a short video saying goodbye to our old home and hello to our new one.
Abbey Mill Business Centre
Friday fun to show you what the roof looks like on the beautiful Mile End Mill. Picture with Paul McLaughlin, Roofer.
Paisley - Oor Wee Toon & Environs
J & P Coats - Russian Mills
The name of Prussian Otto Ernst Philippi might not be immediately recognised but he was generally recognised for being responsible for much of J & P Coats foreign sales success between 1872 and 1917.
Otto who used the name Ernest was in total control of the huge overseas investment and Russia proved to be a test of Coats resolve.
The main motive for Coats's local manufacturing in Russia was to avoid import duties. Manufacturing facilities were secured by means of a joint venture and acquisitions in St. Petersburg, Riga and Lodz. The Russian business was under the full control of the headquarters in Paisley, U.K.
Coats through Ernest Phillipi used a system where the Paisley Centre oversaw everything with almost no decision taking at a local level.
It was not until 1889 that J & P Coats secured it’s manufacturing base in Tsarist Russia.
The hub was the partly owned Nevsky Thread Manufacturing Company in St Petersburg and it was gradually joined by several business acquired by Coats, including The Nevsky Cotton Spinning Company, the Rigaer Baumwoollen Manufacturer and the Lodzer Nahgarn Manufacturer mainly in St Petersburg, Riga and Lodz.
In 1889 Coats acquired the Naryschkin Mills near St Petersburg at a cost of 159,000 roubles.
Once founded The Nevsky Man. Co. expanded and acquired other business.
J & P Coats appears to have been enterprising and risk taking compared to other British multinationals.
There followed several excellent examples of future planning by J & P Coats with expansion and further acquisitions as well as financial dealings with a major player in this market N M Polovtsoff the main shareholder in this area. She was the wife of Secretary A A Polovtsoff and adopted daughter of Baron A L Shtiglitz a prominent banker.
She had already borrowed £200,000 from Coats against her shares in the Nevsky company.
By 1914 Coats were producing 90% of Russia’s total cotton thread. There had been strikes by Bolsheviks but Coats managed to overcome these.
In all with aggressive strategies the Russian mills of J & P Coats coped well with unfavourable market conditions during the WW1 years.
It is worth noting again the all decisions were put to the Coats board in Paisley by Ernest Philippi with most being passed.
Philippi decided that The Nevsky board was not keeping Paisley up to date with developments in St Petersburg and he “suggested “ the board strengthen the Nevsky board and also sent out managers,sub managers, engineers, polishers, dyers, foremen, embroidery experts and other skilled workers from Paisley.
With the war beginning in 1914 Coats was virtually disconnected from its Russian operations. In 1916 Paisley headquarters insisted Nevsky should remit sterling at the best exchange rate to reduce their indebtedness to J & P Coats.
In 1916 however the Russian government refused to allow the remittance of sterling.
By then Coats had 20 million roubles locked in treasury bonds.
In 1917 Coats attempted to spread the risk by converting to sound Russian securities however during 1917 Russian workers began to usurp control of J & P Coats mills which was viewed by Coats Paisley headquarters as extremely high handed and arrogant with their demands.
The Bolshevik Government issued a decree giving workers the right to take over business and dismiss management.
By March 1918 when J & P Coats stake in Russia stood at £4,725,000.
At the AGM OF 1918 Coats chairman reported that all Russian mills had been nationalised.
By 1919 the 428 mills had come under state control compared to 18 previously.
Although Coats lost one of its most profitable markets with no compensation, the Łódź company was now in Poland and the Riga company was now in Latvia and J & P Coats began to revitalise it’s interests in these companies after 1918.
J & P Coats pursued bolder global expansion in 43 mills around the world by 1936.
Ever wondered how a reel of cotton is made?
In 1920, artist Steven Spurrier R.O.I. was given access to Messrs. J & P Coats factories.
The resulting images provide detailed information about the individual processes involved - but also give some insight as to the fashions and hairstyles of the time!
Background In December 1920, the Illustrated London News publication carried a series of articles detailing the range of processes involved in the production of a reel of cotton. The illustrations …
Mile End Mill, Seedhill Road
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