Discover the history of Sma’ Shot Day in Paisley

Tuesday 2nd July, 2019

The annual Sma’ Shot Day returns to Paisley on Saturday 6 July – but have you ever thought ‘what is the Sma’ Shot?’.

The traditional Sma’ Shot holiday in Paisley takes its name from a famous dispute between the local shawl weavers and manufacturers in the 19th century. At the height of their powers in the mid-19th century, there were more than 7,000 weavers in the town.

The ‘invisible’ Sma’ Shot is the stitch that bound the Paisley Pattern shawls. It was a fine weft yarn, woven into famous shawls by the weavers – but the manufacturers, known locally as ‘corks’, refused to pay for the thread.

In 1856, following a long dispute, the manufacturers backed down and an agreement was reached to pay for the Sma’ Shot with a new table of prices published on July 1 1856.

There was also a custom at that time for workers to go on an annual outing one Saturday during the summer.

The Paisley weavers’ practice was to take this holiday and go on a trip on the first Saturday in July. Many weaver’s wives and daughters working in the thread mills naturally asked to have their own holiday on the same day.

In 1856, the annual holiday happened three days after the weavers’ sma’ shot victory. They gathered from each weaving district to the ‘tuck of the drum’ and marched with bands and banners, to the railway station, before departing with their families for destinations such as the seaside, known locally as “doon the watter”.

This year’s Sma Shot Day event will focus on the weavers’ victory and more importantly how they chose to celebrate that victory in 1856.

Take a closer look at the amazing activities taking place at this year’s event by clicking on our event page below…

I think what makes Paisley great is our history. We have the Abbey, the mills, the Paisley Pattern and some great architecture. We have great heritage in music with the Tannahill Weavers and other great singers.

Phyllis Arthur
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