Paisley town centre walks: Poets, prisons and walruses

Stretch your legs on this 30 minute circular walk which takes you on a tour highlighting some fascinating aspects of Paisley’s history.

You’ll learn about some of the people who made Paisley known around the world – from weaver-poet Robert Tannahill to industrialist Thomas Coats, responsible for so many of the fine buildings you’ll see on this route.

A stroll through Paisley oldest public park reveals the sight of the fantastically-eccentric Grand Fountain – recently restored and much loved by the town’s people.

And there are a couple of nods to those on the wrong side of the law, with the route taking you past Paisley Sheriff Court and the former site of Paisley jail.

Start/ Finish: Renfrewshire House

1.6 miles / 30 minutes

  • From Renfrewshire House, walk towards Paisley Abbey

One of many wonderful statues around Paisley Town Hall, the statue of Robert Tannahill was designed by David Watson Stevenson. The most famous of around 290 weaver poets produced by Paisley, Tannahill’s name sits proudly alongside Robert Burns as one of Scotland’s finest wordsmiths. Standing next to the Town Hall is a statue to honour Thomas Coats, thread-maker and industrialist, who contributed greatly to Paisley’s architecture.

The Piazza Shopping Centre stands on the site of the old Paisley jail. Built in 1821 and known as County Bridewell, the impressive-looking building was home to the old historic Renfrewshire Council and incorporated Paisley Burgh Police headquarters. The building was knocked down in the 1960s.

By the time it reaches Paisley, the White Cart Water has meandered its way from Eaglesham Moor in East Renfrewshire, past East Kilbride and Cathcart, through Pollok Country Park, Crookston and Hawkhead, before falling over the Hammils rapids and disappearing under the Piazza. It joins with the Black Cart Water after passing Glasgow Airport and becomes the River Cart, shortly before flowing into the River Clyde.

Originally laid out in 1797, Fountain Gardens is Paisley’s oldest public park. The current layout and name date from the 1860s. It consists of a grand geometric layout with broad walkways, all of which  lead to the Grand Fountain—an ornate cast-iron fountain at the centre of the park which contains statues of herons, dolphins and walruses. The fountain is one of only three A-Listed fountains in Scotland. The park’s statue of famous poet Robert Burns was erected in 1896 and was constructed by Frederick William Pomeroy, a prolific British sculptor.

Paisley Sheriff Court has occupied the same building in St James Street since 1885 and was extended in 1998 to house the Sheriffs, Scottish Court Service staff and the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service staff. In 2011, the Justice of the Peace Court relocated here too.

With views over towards the Abbey, Forbes Place was built in the 1830s with part of this street built as a warehouse for James Forbes, shawl manufacturer.

  • From Forbes Place, follow the River Cart back towards Renfrewshire House.


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