Sma' Shot Cottages

Sma' Shot Cottages The Sma' Shot Cottage complex is unique in Scotland and allows a great opportunity to see two distinct periods in Paisley's weaving history.

The Sma Shot Cottages are a major attraction in the Renfrewshire area, providing visitors with an insight into two distinct periods of Paisley's weaving history. On entering from Shuttle Street, visitors immediately step back into the 18th century into the typical weaver's cottage which was originally built in the 1750s. The cottage has been matched to written descriptions in histories of the town and has only been altered slightly from original dimensions in the 19th century. On crossing the yard, you will visit a small row of three cottages, dated 70 years ahead in the 1820s-1840s, where you can immerse yourself in history as you experience life as a weaver in this historical town during the 19th century. Come along and join us in our tea room, where we serve beverages and homemade goods and share stories of the past. We are open April-September, every Wednesday and Saturday 12pm-4pm, and Fridays 1-5pm. Group/private tours can be arranged on request. Sma Shot Cottages are owned and run by the Old Paisley Society, a registered charity (SC001908). Admission is free, however, all donations towards the upkeep of the cottages are gratefully accepted.

Paisley - Oor Wee Toon & Environs

Paisley - Oor Wee Toon & Environs

The last of the Kilbarchan weavers

It was a trade that kept the majority of Renfrewshire folk in work for many a year.

Weaving put Paisley and surrounding towns and villages on the map, but only because the quality of garments produced in these parts was of the highest quality.
Our photograph was captured in July, 1924, and shows the last remaining weavers in Kilbarchan. Seventy years beforehand, there were 878 weavers.

And they had their favourite haunts, such as the Barracks front and back weaving shops in Ewing Street; two doors below was Young’s back shop, and at the foot of the Well Road, opposite Bog Ha’, stood a six-loom shop, and at the end of the burn was the famous ‘Black Kirk’ shop.

They were all favourite howffs of the villagers. With the weavers themselves being ardent politicians, as a matter of course, they would scream ‘reform’.
When there was any question of importance engrossing Parliament, the shops were a scene of much animation. Loud and long were the debates under their smoke-begrimed rafters.

The weavers in these shops were not enthusiastic churchmen, but faithful members of the ‘Chartist body’.
They always spoke their mind, perhaps too freely at times for their own comfort.

Often in the winter evenings, when the snow lay thick on the ground, they would sit at the fireside in the weaver’s shop and replay many hidden gems of Scottish minstrelsy.
In the days of old at the foot of the Steeple Brae, there were no desperate attempts made to secure happiness.
The weavers were content with little in the way of pleasures, and yet an atmosphere of contentment abounded.
There were no golf links, tennis courts or bowling greens in those days, just a small bit of land kindly lent by Peggy Barr, where some of the weavers could indulge in a game of quoits.

Eddie Mcrorie

Paisley is

Paisley is

Paisley’s annual Sma’ Shot day event will take place this year - but with a difference!
For the first time, a full programme of online events and activities will take place on Saturday 4 July to celebrate this historical date in the town’s calendar.
This year’s event will not only mark the historic victory of local weavers but will also celebrate our fantastic key workers across Renfrewshire today.
Take a look at the programme so far at our event page 👉

Events include:
👉 A mass drum-off to start the day’s celebrations led by the famous Charleston Drum - with the whole community invited to take part;
👉 Connecting Threads – a dance and music project delivered by All or Nothing Aerial Dance Theatre, who will be inviting local groups and individuals to submit videos for a short film that will be published on Sma Shot Day;
👉 Sma’sh Hits Sma’ Shot Special music event showcasing local music acts, with Renfrewshire Leisure and @thebungalowpaisley;
👉 Online drama workshops for young people from @PACEYouthTheatre;
👉 A music collaboration by Create Paisley and local musician Michael Cassidy for a special film screened online on the day;
👉 Online sessions with ReMode to inspire people with ideas on how to dress up and decorate windows ahead of Sma' Shot Day;
👉 Much more to be announced!

We hope you can join us on Saturday 4 July!

A brilliant history of our eighteenth century weavers cottage on Shuttle Street by Paisley Oor Wee Toon! We hope to shar...

A brilliant history of our eighteenth century weavers cottage on Shuttle Street by Paisley Oor Wee Toon! We hope to share tours of the Cottages with you again soon.
(Though currently closed, our usual opening season is April to September, Wednesdays and Saturdays 12-4pm, and Fridays 1-5pm. However, we will remain closed until circumstances change).

Sma' Shot Cottage

This cottage is the only survivor of the original shuttle street, which was built from 1735 to the early 1750s, and belongs to the world of the hand loom weavers.
It was built for Kerr and Pollock, a cloth manufacturer of Cork, in the early 1750s. The first direct reference to this Cottage is in a sasine of 1776, when it was one of the many properties bought by another Cork, Andrew Brown, after the failure of Kerr and Pollock, probably due to the collapse of the Bank of Ayr, some three years earlier.

The early history of the Cottage is linked with the Lawson family. David Lawson, and his wife Mary Porter, their son Robert Lawson, with his wife Lydia Lochhead, and Roberts three daughters, and his son Robert junior. David Lawson, journeyman weaver, and master with the incorporation of Old Weavers in Paisley, is the first known tenant, moving here around 1754.
By 10th April 1758 he was in the position to take on an apprentice, John Aird, duly entered by the incorporation. There was no house numbers then, but the occupants of the other cottages on this side are known and the sasine of 1776 names David Lawson and Archibald Munro, Weavers, as the sitting tenants in what is now No. 14 Shuttle Street.

Meanwhile John Aird had been entered journeyman to David Lawson in 1765, and Robert had been apprenticed to his father on 1st November 1774.
In 1797, Robert bought the Cottage from Andrew Brown and Company.he had already bought a property of three steadings including an Inn at the foot of New Street. His parents, David Lawson and Mary Porter continued to live in Shuttle Street with Robert and his wife Lydia.

David Lawson was now described as a school master, his son Robert as a weaver, while his grandson, Robert Junior, made weavers’ reeds, which were on sale at the inn.
Shortly after 1800 David Lawson died. Robert lived until about 1835 and Robert Junior to 1840. Robert Junior’s eldest sister, Mary, inherited all the properties, and lived with her husband in the New Street premises, which were made into a grocer’s shop. She let the Shuttle Street cottage to a succession of Weavers.
Weaving only ceased here, when in the late 1860’s Mary, who was now a widow, came to live in the Cottage herself, with her grocer son and her sisters. In 1877 she sold up and moved with her sisters to a more up-to-date tenement flat. Her son found a shop in the High Street. Thus a Lawson was the tenant or owner of this Cottage for over 120 years.
AQ Lawson wove here for about 80 years, there were looms here for almost 110 years, and as you can see have returned, and are now restored and working on a part time basis. The purchase of the properties from Mary Lawson was completed in 1879 by Greenlees Bros…, and the 1887 census shows that they put in as tenant Alex l Jeffrey, a 50 year old house painter and his family. In 1886 the Cottage came into the hands of the Hutchison’s of the wool-scouring works in George Place, who opened up the door in the wall between the Cottage and the Sma Shot Cottages. The land then sloped up from the Weavers Cottage to that door.

The Hutchison’s already owned the Cottage next to the Weaver’s Cottage, but neither of them were used for the business. In 1890 the Cottage was being rented by a potato merchant named Robert Logan who was succeeded in 1898 by William Forsyth. The occupier listed from 1913 was a Prudential Insurance Agent, William Hume, and there was another change of tenant during the gap in the records over the Great War period.
The succession of tenants continue with a Cabinet maker, Andrew Robertson and his family who were in occupation from 1924 until at least 1946. By this time the widowed Mrs. Robertson lived in the loom shop having rented the room and kitchen to a Mr. & Mrs. Reid. It may have been Mrs. Robertson who installed a wooden dado around the loom shop walls to make the room more comfortable. It was during the removal of this dado as part of the restoration work in 1986, that the volunteers discovered the small second fireplace that would have been used by the weavers to hang their cans of loom dressing.

With the winding up of the Hutchison’s business in 1954, the properties were split up and sold separately. The George Place buildings, now the Sma’ Shot Cottages, were bought by a property company, allowing the sitting tenants to continue their occupancy. The Shuttle Street Weavers Cottage was purchased by the ironmongers, Lochhead and Carnduff, who used it for storage. For some time the George Place residents used the yard behind the Weavers Cottage as their drying green, until the ironmongers decided to level the ground and block the communicating door. By the 1970’s the Shuttle Street Cottage was disused.

To save it from demolition a small group of Old Paisley Society Members formed a Trust, and purchased it for £10,000. This sum was subsequently raised by the Society and its many supporters, enabling the Trust Members to be repaid. A great deal of work, much of it all been done by the members themselves, was necessary to restore the Cottage. For example, the roof is an almost complete replacement, it was probably thatched originally.

We believe this is the oldest secular building in Paisley, apart from the much grander Place of Paisley and the almost totally rebuilt Black hall Manor. (information taken from the Old Paisley Society newsletter)

The Old Paisley Society was formed in 1977 and under normal circumstances the Cottages are open to the public on Wednesdays and Saturdays 1 to 5 pm Tel: 0141 889 1708 11/17 George Place Paisley

Text with thanks to


The Dooslan Stane is a Paisley landmark. Imbued with meaning, it exposes the political nature of Paisley’s textile indus...

The Dooslan Stane is a Paisley landmark. Imbued with meaning, it exposes the political nature of Paisley’s textile industries. Now located at Brodie Park, the stone was initially situated at the intersection of Rowan Street and Neilston Road; it remains in Charleston, the most political weaving area of Paisley. Positioned as a gathering place, the Dooslan Stane was used as a platform for political oration by the Weaver’s Union of Paisley South.
Now somewhat worn away, the stone bears an inscription reading “Dooslan Stane. Removed from Corner of Rowan Street, 1806.” Surrounding the stone are Paisley’s four original tollbooth stones. To this day, the stone marks a place of congregation - at Brodie Park for the Sma’ Shot Day parade, a celebration commemorating the unionism and triumph of Paisley’s weavers.

How to wear a Paisley shawl! 🌟 Through the life of the Paisley shawl, the garments worn underneath such a vast expanse o...

How to wear a Paisley shawl! 🌟 Through the life of the Paisley shawl, the garments worn underneath such a vast expanse of fabric as the highly patterned shawl changed dramatically in shape, construction and style. To cater for these changes, so too the shape and size of shawls altered, as did how they were worn; draped decoratively, or purposefully, as in colder months. .
One way of analysing fashions of the nineteenth century is through the examination of fashion plates. Fashion plates were used to illustrate fashions of the day, with Paris leading the way as a centre of fashion during this period. They provide a glimpse into the promotion of desirable excess, being published alongside in-depth descriptions of desired ensembles in popular publications such as periodicals (magazines), so that the complete look could be accurately re-created by a dressmaker, demonstrating the ever growing market for consumable goods across all sections of society. .
Seen here are some examples of Parisian fashion plates illustrating changes in shape, cut and construction of womenswear in the early years of the nineteenth century. Featuring extravagant day and evening dress, they also show how pine pattern shawls, which at this time were being woven in Kashmir (India), Lyon (France), Norwich (England), Edinburgh (Scotland), and Paisley, would have been worn, and how they were so desired in fashionable centres. .
📷 Outdoor Dress, Journal des dames et des modes, Paris, 1810. 📷 Day or evening dress, La Belle assemblee, volume 25 (157), London, 1821. .
Both fashion plates © University of Washington Libraries

Paisley Online

Paisley Online

A few photos from Saturday morning in the Paisley sunshine

Wonderful colouring competition by Josef McFadden!

Wonderful colouring competition by Josef McFadden!


We are running a competition for artists aged 4-12 to colour in our Paisley Celebration Print.

The winning artist will win their design on a t-shirt and we will upload some of our favourites to an online gallery.

We want to see colour and creativity! Entries close at midnight on May 31st.

To download the artwork and read more:

“Ladies who could afford it, usually endeavoured to have a white or scarlet-centre shawl for summer wear, and a ‘filled-...

“Ladies who could afford it, usually endeavoured to have a white or scarlet-centre shawl for summer wear, and a ‘filled-over’ shawl for colder days…For all important functions the Paisley Shawl was considered the appropriate article of dress.” – Blair, Matthew, The Paisley Shawl and the Men Who Produced It, Alexander Gardener, Paisley, Scotland, 1904, p. 25/26. .
Represented in the Sma’ Shot Cottages Collections are a variety of shawls, manufactured using different techniques and materials, in an array of colours suited to the most fashionable of wardrobes of the mid-nineteenth century. 😍
From the Cottage’s collections:
📷 Detail of rectangular ‘Kirking’ shawl with cream / white centre ground, and blue patterning to the perimeter c. 1860s. 📷 Detail of red centred shawl with patterned border, c. 1840s.
📷 Detail of single-sided, filled-ground shawl, c.1840s- late 1860s.

Civil Disobedience

Civil Disobedience

The Paisley Radicals project is part of this programme of activities, produced jointly by Paisley TH.CARS 2, Renfrewshire Council’s Events team and Renfrewshire Leisure Arts.

🌟 On what would have been our first open day of the season, welcome to our virtual museum! 🌟Upon beginning a tour of the...

🌟 On what would have been our first open day of the season, welcome to our virtual museum! 🌟
Upon beginning a tour of the Sma’ Shot Cottages, visitors enter our exhibition space. Here our guides provide a short history of Paisley, changes to the town, local industries, restoration of the cottages, and the family who first lived and worked in our eighteenth century weavers cottage.
The Lawson family were the first to inhabit this cottage, during the 1750s. David Lawson a weaver, residing here with his family, with living and working occurring under one roof. .
Pictured alongside the exterior image of our eighteenth century weavers cottage is one of the older objects from our collections – the Minute Book of the Incorporation of Old Weavers, collated between 1704-1776, the open page detailing a John Aird being apprenticed to David Lawson in the 1750s. Research conducted by volunteer Donna into the first Scottish census compiled in 1841, details that another John Aird (born1775) and his family were living in Shuttle Street at this time, presumably the son of the apprenticed John Aird, who later became a journeyman.
Donna found that in 1841 Shuttle Street extended to New Street, and was home to 144 people. The street was occupied by a range of professions associated with the textile trades at this time - winders, sewers, pattern setters, washers, starchers and silk finishers; more of those working in ancillary trades living on this row than the weavers for whom Shuttle Street was initially built - only four of the 31 households being headed by a handloom weaver in 1841.
📷 Exterior of the Sma' Shot Cottages' eighteenth century weavers cottage.
📷 The Minute Book of the Incorporation of Old Weavers, collated 1704-1776.

💕 From our collections, a printed silk Paisley shawl 💕 Printed pine pattern shawls began to be produced in Paisley aroun...

💕 From our collections, a printed silk Paisley shawl 💕 Printed pine pattern shawls began to be produced in Paisley around 1850, following the printing of various other textile products around Scotland for a number of years in the eighteenth century.
Initially printed onto silk, these garments were extremely intricately patterned, at times considered even more decorative than woven Paisley shawls due to the elaborate designs printed onto them. They were, however, always marketed to those unable to afford costly woven examples. Several thousand individuals were engaged in the manufacture of printed shawls, requiring considerable skill and attention to detail to produce.
However, the quality of printed shawls soon deteriorated as they began to be printed onto cheaper cottons rather than the earlier silks, and attention to detail in the application of printing blocks waned. This in turn led to changing perceptions of the quality of printed shawls. The wearing of these examples soon divided the market - becoming more affordable, they were adopted and treasured by Paisley’s mill girls.
This shawl is very large and square in shape, similar to woven examples of the period. It is extremely delicate, and a rare survivor of Paisley’s pine pattern shawl industry.
@paisleyweaversresidency @weaversofglasgow @millmagazine_

Paisley Thread Mill Museum

Paisley Thread Mill Museum

"The Town That Thread Built"
Another chance to see this programme.
Tonight 7.30pm on BBC Scotland (Sky 115)

Craft Scotland

Craft Scotland

Over the next few months, whilst we're all working from home or self-isolating, Craft Scotland will be sharing interesting and inspiring stories from Scotland's craft community.

First up, weaver Heather Shields looks back on hers and Shielagh Tacey’s three-year residency in Paisley's the Sma’s Shots Cottages

Read more:

Between 2017 and 2019, the two weavers researched Paisley’s fascinating weaving history, created new work inspired by their findings, and organised a range of community orientated weaving projects at the Cottages.

If you have a story you would like to share please get in touch: [email protected]

Image: Photography by Heather Shields and Shielagh Tacey


2 Sma' Shot Lane


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Culture and history Paisley Business love Sma Shot Cottages
Stumbled across this little gem by lucky accident. Really enjoyed our visit with my friend and me remembering lots of the exhibits from our childhoods. Staff very friendly and we enjoyed our cup of tea with the lovely touch of Paisley pattern shaped biscuits.
Hi When's the next Open Day? I can't find anything here or on your website. I've also left a message on the phone number on the website, but nobody's replied. I really don't want to miss it!
I so wanted to get there this year...I will be in Paisley sometime between 25th October and 1 November....probably around Halloween....I guess I will have to be content to peer through the windows and photograph the outside....I'm sure this will be my last trip to Scotland ...Sorry to have missed everything...
Enjoyed a whistle stop tour on Saturday. Thanks Ladies! You were all superb! Promise to return for a more leisurely visit.
Thanks for today! Enjoyed our tour.
Really enjoyed my visit today, our young gentleman guide was excellent and informative. I am a huge fan of old interiors especially Victorian and the cottages were a delight to explore.
Beautiul new addition to te the Cottages. He was well photographed and patted today despite the grey weather.
And a busy bee 😊
A flourishing Paisley teardrop