Honouring Renfrewshire’s strong women

Thursday 8th March, 2018

To celebrate International Women’s Day we wanted to shine a light on some fantastic women of Renfrewshire’s past and present that helped shape the area.

Agnes Russell

Agnes Russell had the now iconic Russell Institute building constructed in memory of her two brothers Robert and Thomas Russell who died in 1923 and 1920.

She placed no financial restrictions on the building and wanted a distinctive design to allow the building to stand out from everyday architecture. Once the building was completed she donated it to the people of Paisley to be used as a clinic for the welfare of children.

The building was officially opened by H.R.H. Princess Mary, the Princess Royal on 19th March 1927

The Ladies – A,B,C

The Ladies of A, B, C  is a heritage project which investigates the contributions of Jane Arthur, Mary Barbour and women from the famous Coats textiles manufacturing family.

They were remarkable women whose achievements were all too often overlooked by the history books. Through the project their remarkable contribution to the area is being recognised.

Margaret Glen, the wife of Thomas Coats, set up the Paisley branch of the Ladies Sanitary Association, while Mrs Archibald Coats was interested in the work of the Scottish Girl’s Friendly Society. Following her death the Mrs Archibald Coats Memorial Hall was opened in Weighhouse Close.

Bertha Coats was interested in many areas of welfare in the community but particularly with the wellbeing of children and she was recognised for this becoming a Freewoman of Paisley.


Inspirational mums in Ferguslie Park who make up the Strong Women in Ferguslie Together (SWIFT) group had their efforts recognised by Scotland’s Learning Partnership last year.

The group is made up of mums from the local area who want to develop their skills, grow their confidence and give back to others living in Ferguslie Park.

May Donoghue

May was a single mum living in poverty who had lost three children and had one surviving son. She successfully sued the ginger beer manufacturer Stevensons after falling ill when she found a dead snail in a bottle in Paisley’s Wellmeadow café in 1928.

Her actions changed the laws on negligence, not only in her native Scotland, but across the globe.

Paisley-based artists Mandy Macintosh is set to create a bronze statue of May Donoghue to honour the contribution she’s made.

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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