Paisley was the principal centre of cotton spinning in Scotland, and was famous from the early nineteenth century for its distinctive shawls, and from the latter part of the century for the manufacture of thread.
Clark & Co, of the Anchor Mills, which date from 1812 and J & P Coats, of the Ferguslie Mills, which worked from 1826, merged in 1896 to create the world’s biggest thread spinning company, which used the Coats brand names. Thread manufacturing declined after the Second World War and the industry gradually contracted. Anchor Mills became a business centre from the 1980s, and production of thread ceased entirely in 1993.
The Paisley People’s Archive interprets the history of textiles in many ways, with videos, trail guides, an oral history archives, and weekly guided tours of the remaining building. The Archive is located in the Embroidery Mill, the oldest building remaining on the Anchor Mills site. It dates from the 1840s, and was originally used for the production of shawls. Buildings that can be studied through trail guides, videos or guided tours include a range of houses, originally intended for members of the works fire brigade, now used as flats, a gatehouse of 1886 which originally had hydraulically operated gates, the Spooling Mill of 1886, a 26m high building with a tower 31 m high in which machines were driven by a rope drive system. Manufacturing ceased in the mill in 1980. Other surviving buildings include the dye works, the packaging building, the warehouse for cotton bales and the mercerising buildings. Other buildings have been demolished and replaced by car parks on sites of other buildings.
The Thread Mill Museum (12 Seedhill Road, Paisley, PA1 1JS, Tel. +44 (0) 141 8471111 ) has a collection of characteristic Paisley products, and tells the story of the Coats family.