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.