Doors Open Days 2018: Paisley

Paisley has a stunning architectural heritage – the town centre alone has the highest concentration of listed buildings outwith Edinburgh.

The town’s civic landmarks will throw their doors open for this free family event. But take a closer look at the list below, because you’ll find a number of other gems taking part in Doors Open Days that you’ll have great fun discovering for yourselves:

Barshaw Park Walled Peace Garden

Barshaw Park, Glasgow Road, Paisley PA1 3LT
Open: Saturday, guided tours at 4pm and 5pm
Created around 1800 as a walled fruit and vegetable garden for Barshaw House, this was dedicated as a Peace Garden in 1986 and the flowers are now cared for by the Friends of Barshaw Park. Take a guided tour and learn more.

Church of the New Jerusalem

17 George Street, Paisley PA1 2LB
Open: Saturday, 10.30am – 3.30pm
Originally built by Methodists in 1810 to cater for the people building the Paisley Canal, the New Jerusalem Church bought the building in 1860 and spared no expense in its refurbishment – dye for the stained glass windows (designed by Sir Noel Paton) was imported all the way from France. Various exhibits are viewable around the church – with free tea, coffee and biscuits available.

Have some fun in the soft-play area, test your brain power with the quiz and see if you can draw us a beautiful picture!

Diane Mitchell Music School

Brick Lane Studios, 7-9 Weir Street, Paisley PA3 4DW
Open: Saturday, 10.30am – 3pm, and Sunday, 1pm – 4pm
The Diane Mitchell Music School opened in Brick Lane Studios in 2015, and has been growing ever since. The school provides an excellent way for children and adults of all ages to enjoy learning about music. Take a tour of the school’s four teaching rooms and try out some musical instruments.

Children can enjoy an activity quiz, with questions about musical instruments and the music school. Visitors will also get a chance to see the classes in action.

Grown in Glenburn (GIG) Community Garden

Glenfield Road, Paisley PA2 8TE
Open: Sunday, 12pm – 4pm
Growing plots, raised gardens, polytunnels, fruit trees…and a wide range of fruit, vegetables and flowers being grown – this community garden shows nature’s harvest at its best. GIG  members will be on-hand to answer any gardening questions you might have.

Join in the special treasure hunt around the garden!

Holy Trinity & St Barnabas Church

St James’ Place, Moss Street, Paisley PA3 2AF
Open: Saturday, 10am – 4pm
There has been an Episcopalian presence in Paisley since 1817 when the congregation of Holy Trinity was founded. This building was erected and named Trinity Chapel in 1833 and extended in the 1880s. In 2003, the congregation of St Barnabas Church (on Castle Street) merged with that of Holy Trinity. Church members will be on hand to guide you around and answer any questions.

Are you ready to test your knowledge? The church has a special interactive quiz ready for you.

John Neilson Institute

Oakshaw Street West, Paisley PA1 2DE
Open: Saturday, 10.30am – 3.30pm
Known as the ‘porridge bowl’ because of the shape of its beautiful dome, this was originally a school bequeathed to the town by local grocer John Neilson. The building was converted into apartments in 1993 and won a prestigious Saltire Award for its conversion. The large atrium has a statue of a Greek philosopher Diogenes, sculpted by Paisley’s Alexander Stoddart (Sculptor in Ordinary to the Queen).

Lagoon Leisure Centre

Christie Street, Paisley PA1 1NB
Open: Sunday, 10am – 1pm
Come and see the wide range of facilities and fun activities that are on offer at the Lagoon. Hourly tours are available.

The Lane

7 Shuttle Street, Paisley PA1 1AY
Open: Saturday and Sunday, from 12pm

Formerly a bus garage in the 1950s, this building now hosts two venues under one roof – a gastro-bar and an American diner.

There are loads of activities going on at The Lane for Doors Open Days – ask the grown-ups if you can pop in!

Lodge Gleniffer No. 1219

68 Maxwelton Road, Paisley PA1 2RD
Open: Saturday, 9am – 4.30pm
Take a guided tour of the library and museum and learn more about this fascinating building and the history of freemasonry.

Oakshaw Trinity Church

Oakshaw Street East, Paisley PA1 2DD
Open: Saturday, 10.30am – 3.30pm
The church’s steeple is one of the most pronounced on Paisley’s skyline. The Hill organ has been newly restored. The church contains a stunning plaster ceiling together with seven notable stained glass windows.

Paisley Abbey

Abbey Close, Paisley PA1 1JG
Open: Saturday, 10am – 4pm
Paisley Abbey was founded in 1163.  The nave is medieval and the crossing, transepts and choir were restored in the 19th and 20th centuries. There are fine stained windows and wood carvings. The adjoining Place of Paisley was originally part of the monastic complex and contains a very early example of a barrel-vaulted ceiling. There will be regular tours up the tower all day on Saturday (please note: there is a small charge for these tours) and parts of the Place of Paisley not normally open to the public will be open.

Paisley Abbey Drain

Abbey Close, Paisley PA1 1TJ
Open: Saturday and Sunday, 10.30am – 4pm
Only rediscovered in the 1990s, the Abbey Drain is one of Paisley’s hidden gems and a site of continued archaeological interest. Inside, witches marks are inscribed on the stonework and artefacts found in the drain suggest what people are and wore. What exactly was the purpose of this passageway? This is your chance to learn more with interpretation displays, a lunchtime lecture and displays of artefacts. You could also win the chance to go down into the drain and explore!

Paisley Arts Centre

New Street, Paisley PA1 1EZ
Open: Saturday, 11am – 4pm
Built by the Town Council in 1738, the Arts Centre was a place of worship for nearly 250 years, known as the Laigh Kirk. Reverend John Witherspoon was minister from 1758 – 1768, before becoming a signatory of the United States Declaration of Independence as a representative of New Jersey. Paisley Arts Centre was converted to its present purpose in 1987. Take a self-led tour of Paisley Arts Centre’s graveyard to discover the history of the silk merchants, moulterers and manufacturers buried within the grounds. Come and join us for drop in family friendly screenings throughout the day showcasing films created by young people in Renfrewshire from as early as 1960s.

Paisley Central Library and Heritage Centre

High Street, Paisley PA1 2BA
Open: Saturday, 9am – 5pm
Opened in 1871, Paisley Free Library and Museum was designed by John Honeyman in an austere Greek revival style. The original building has been extended several times and is A-listed.

There’s no need for you to be bored on a visit to the library – the team have a whole load of quirky and unusual board games for you to try.

Paisley Fire Station

Canal Street, Paisley PA1 2HQ
Open: Saturday, 12pm – 4pm
Take a tour of the building and see all the fire engines in this operational fire station.

Paisley Methodist Central Hall (including Paisley Photographic Society)

7 Gauze Street, Paisley PA1 1EP
Open: Saturday, 11am – 4pm
First opened in 1908, this is the last intact example of a Central Methodist Hall in Scotland.    This imposing building is located opposite Paisley Abbey and was designed by architects Watson and Salmond in the Free Renaissance style. A guided tour and heritage display is available for Doors Open Days.

Paisley Photographic Society is the oldest photographic club in Scotland, founded in 1857, and it regularly meets in the Methodist Central Hall. See an exhibition of photographic prints by club members – you might be inspired to join.

Paisley Museum and Art Galleries, and Coats Observatory 

High St, Paisley PA1 2BA
Open: Saturday, 11am – 4pm and Sunday 2pm – 5pm

A visit to this iconic High St location is an absolute must before the building closes for a multi-million pound refurbishment. Take one last look at some of your favourite objects, including Buddy the Lion, and participate in arts, crafts and design activities.

Paisley Police Office

Mill Street, Paisley PA1 1JU
Open: Saturday, 10am – 4pm
Drop in to the station car park and you’ll learn a lot more about what the police do. Meet lots of different police teams -everyone from the Mounted Branch to the Underwater Search Unit.

Sit inside a police car, get a photograph taken with the handcuffs on, have your fingerprints taken – just be glad you’re not a criminal!

Paisley Sheriff Court

St James Street, Paisley PA3 2HW
Open: Saturday, 10am – 4pm
You are accused of having too much fun during Doors Open Days…how do you plead? Take a tour of the cells, Court 1 and Court 8, and watch a mock trial in Court 8.

We’re guilty of loving a quiz with a prize, and we bet you are too! Make sure you try the quiz before you leave.

Paisley Thread Mill Museum

Abbeymill Business Centre, Mile End Mill, 12 Seedhill Road, Paisley PA1 1JS
Open: Saturday, 10am – 4pm, and Sunday, 12pm – 4pm

This museum is housed in the late 19th century Mile End Mill of the Anchor Thread Works –  the last working mill building in Paisley.  See machinery and artefacts relating to Paisley & Renfrewshire’s vast linen, silk and cotton thread industries. Guided tours will be available on both days and the tombola stall has a number of museum-related items.

On Saturday, you can stitch and decorate a bobbin (11am and 2.15pm) and try the bobbin hunt or our table games. You can also play table games and hunt for bobbins on Sunday!

Paisley: The Secret Collection

9 High St, Paisley, PA1 2AE
Open: Saturday 11am – 3pm

See thousands of objects reflecting Renfrewshire’s amazing heritage and culture, many of them unseen for years, and meet the team working on the Paisley Museum Re-Imagined redevelopment project.

Paisley Town Hall

Abbey Close, Paisley PA1 1JF
Open: Saturday, 11am – 4pm
This classical building was gifted to Paisley by the Clarks, one of the town’s wealthy mill owning families. It houses a suite of grand halls and function rooms and the views of the Abbey from the first floor Loggia and balcony are stunning. Come and explore this magnificent building.

Renfrewshire House

Cotton Street, Paisley PA1 1AN
Open: Saturday, 11am – 1pm
The headquarters of Renfrewshire Council features a Customer Service Centre and Council Chambers. The Council Chambers, suspended over the public service desks, are elliptical in shape to embody the principles of equality and inclusive debate in local democracy.

Do you know what a council does? Try our quiz or complete the worksheet and you could win a prize.

Russell Institute

30 Causeyside Street, Paisley PA1 1UN
Open: Saturday and Sunday, 10am – 4pm
This A-listed building is one of Paisley’s treasures. Distinctive for its stone and bronze sculptures, the building was commissioned by Miss Agnes Russell who wanted to open a child welfare clinic in memory of her brothers. Opened in 1927, the building closed its doors in 2011 before reopening in 2017 after major refurbishment. Take a walk into the past and share stories about a building which has meant so much to the people of Paisley.

We hope you aren’t spooked easily, as the building is said to be haunted…you might spot some ghostly goings-on while you’re out exploring for Doors Open Days.

Sma’ Shot Cottages

2 Sma’ Shot Lane, Paisley PA1 2HG
Open: Saturday, 12pm – 4pm
An 18th Century weavers’ cottage and loom shop which showcase the living and working conditions of a weaver’s family in the 1750s, and a small row of mill workers cottages from the 19th Century. The cottages contain many fascinating artefacts and are linked by a 19th century heritage garden. Explore the exhibition room accompanied by costumed guides.

Can you imagine how people lived 250 years ago? This is your chance to see for yourself!

St Matthew’s Church

Gordon Street, Paisley PA1 1 XL
Open: Saturday 10am – 4pm and Sunday 11am – 3pm
St Matthew’s was originally designed with a belfry, but unfortunately it was never completed due to cost. However as a special marker there is a doorway that would have led to the steeple. Can you discover the secret stairway that leads to nowhere?

St Mirin’s Cathedral

Incle Street, Paisley PA1 1 HR
Open: Saturday and Sunday, 6am – 6pm
Built in 1932 to replace the 1808 church in East Buchanan Street, St Mirin’s is dedicated to the Patron Saint of Paisley and became a cathedral for the newly formed Diocese of Paisley in 1948. It continues to serve as a parish church, with recent renovations taking place in 2012.

Stanely House (Youth With A Mission)

14 Stanely Crescent, Paisley PA2 9LF
Open: Saturday, 10am – 4pm
Stanely House was built by industrialist Thomas Coats and the entirety of the wooden interiors (including the central staircase) was made using oak imported from America. Take a tour up to the rooftop and enjoy splendid views of the reservoir and the ruin of Stanely Castle.

Come with your bright colours on and the Youth With A Mission team will take you on a ‘Glow-in-the-Dark’ Bible Experience before you have a go at the scavenger hunt!

STAR Project

12-14 Wallace Street, Paisley PA3 2BU
Open: Saturday, 10am – 1pm
Make your way The STAR Project for some walrus-themed fun! Watch ‘We are the Walrus’ – a short film celebrating the restoration Fountain Gardens – then make your own walrus mask, before taking a short walk to see the walruses in the Grand Fountain.

Tannahill’s Cottage

Queen Street, Paisley PA1 2TT
Open: Saturday, 11am – 3pm
The family home of Paisley’s weaver poet, Robert Tannahill, is now home to Paisley Burns Club, the Tannahill-McDonald Club and the Paisley Bohemian Club. Enjoy a talk about the cottage and Tannahill himself.

The Whithorn Way

Starts Paisley Abbey, Abbey Close, Paisley PA1 1JG
Open: Saturday, Whithorn Way Walk leaves 10am, Family Walk leaves 2pm

The Whithorn Way is a pilgrim route from Glasgow to Whithorn. Our starting point is Paisley Abbey.

Participants will walk to Lochwinnoch stage via National Route 7 to Castle Semple Collegiate Church and Clyde Muirshiel Regional Park. Walkers cab return by train from Lochwinnoch at their own expense.

The family walk takes the cycle path to Robert Tannahill’s graveside and returns via the Sma’ Shot Cottages. The Family Walk will include tales from the historical background of the route and description of flowers and animals found nearby.

20 places are available on each of these guided walks. Please book a place beforehand via email at

University of the West of Scotland – Gardner Building

Paisley Campus, George Street, Paisley PA1 2BE
Open: Saturday, 10am – 4pm
The Gardner Building was designed by famous Paisley architect TG Abercrombie and opened in 1900 as Paisley Technical School – making it the original UWS building. Now home to the University’s School of Business & Enterprise, you can view a number of displays about the building, its foundation and the university itself. Guided tours are available at 11am and 2.30pm with a short talk at 2pm.

Walking Tours on Wheels – The Wee Ginger Slug

Paisley YMCA (starting point)
39 High Street
Paisley PA2 2AF
Open: Saturday, tours at 11am and 1pm
Learn about the case of the ‘Slug in a Bottle’ – a legal case that changed the world, that all began in 1928 when Mrs May Donoghue walked into Minghella’s Café on Well meadow Street and ordered a ginger beer…

Wallneuk North Church

Abercorn Street, Paisley PA3 4AB
Open: Saturday, 10am – 12pm
Built by TG Abercrombie on land which was in the corner (neuk) of the garden of the Abbott of Paisley, Wallneuk North Church opened in 1915 with Britain at war. A commemorative display for Doors Open Days remembers those who fought. You can also see one of the last working pipe organs built by Abbott & Smith.

West End Community Centre

5A Underwood Lane, Paisley PA1 2SL
Sunday, 11am – 4pm
The community centre was built in the 1970s and, under the banner ‘Constantly seeking to meet the needs of the community’, it hosts a number of community groups and charities. For Doors Open Days, you can undergo a 20-minute professional mini-health check measuring height, weight, blood pressure and lung capacity and calculating your ‘health age’.

A stunning skyline of steeples and spires

Explore other towns and villages during Doors Open Days

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