10 things the Paisley Town Hall revamp means for you

Friday 8th February, 2019

Paisley Town Hall is being transformed into a landmark entertainment venue for the West of Scotland.

The work to revamp the interior of Paisley Town Hall is one of the biggest projects in Renfrewshire Council’s ongoing investment in Paisley town centre.

When it reopens, the interior will have been transformed to create one of the West of Scotland’s landmark entertainment venues.

Here, we take an in-depth look at 10 things you can expect when that happens…

1) It brings the town hall into the 21st century

The town hall has been an architectural gem at the heart of life in the area since 1884… but as with all old buildings, it needs careful maintenance and upgrades to move with the times. While the outside of the building was upgraded in 2012, the interior hasn’t had major work in decades – and for the building to stay viable that now needs to happen. The work currently being done will create a 21st-century facility for Paisley, now and for the years ahead.

2) New life and footfall for the town centre

Paisley can use what sets it apart to drive new footfall to local traders, day and night. In the town’s case, that is a great location, beautiful buildings, thriving cultural scene, and unique heritage. The revamped town hall will be the hub of that activity – hosting events that will attract visitors to the area and use Paisley as base to discover everything Renfrewshire has to offer.

3) Your heritage preserved for the future

Paisley Town Hall is one of the town’s most-loved buildings and a symbol of Paisley’s proud thread-making past. It occupies a special place in the heart of Buddies – whether you made your first appearance on a stage there, got married in it, or watched St Mirren parade a trophy. So the work being done is about more than a building – it’s about allowing the town hall to mean as much to the generations still to come as it has to you and others in the past 150 years.

4) A bigger and better range of shows

The revamp will see the main auditorium capacity increased to 1,200 for a standing gig and we are upgrading the performance facilities. That will allow the town to attract bigger-name performers for music, dance, theatre and more. Not only will that bring in the crowds, it means people who live here won’t need to go to Glasgow to see big-name acts. Chats are already happening with promoters about who could add Paisley Town Hall to their tour schedule from 2022.

5) Same building… some totally new rooms!

When it reopens in 2022, there will be several brand-new rooms within the current building. The north minor room will become a multi-use venue-within-a-venue, for small performances and occasional screenings, accessible from Gauze St. Above it on the first floor will be a state-of-the-art dance studio, where empty space is now. On the south side will be a new bar and terrace, overlooking the river for your pre-and-post show meet-ups. Plus a revamped reception and box office area where people can sit and watch the world go by.

6) All-new electrical and mechanical systems

One of the key reasons for the work is the building’s electrical and mechanical systems (which date back decades) are reaching the end of their lives and need replaced. That essential work alone would have cost £12m and required a long-term closure of the building but wouldn’t have delivered any new facilities. The £22m scheme being delivered will deliver all the necessary maintenance AND so much more, creating one of the best entertainment venues in the West of Scotland.

7) A better experience for you

Not only will shows be bigger and better but the audience experience will be redesigned and improved with you in mind. As with many Victorian-era town halls, the current stage is too high, so we are lowering it for better sightlines. The acoustics will be improved. New retractable seating will be added to the ground floor, and the balcony rebuilt with seats angled towards the stage (rather than across the hall). Getting around the building will be easier. Extra toilets are being added. And there will be spaces for pop-up bars, so less time waiting in queues!

8) More uses… and multiple events

As much as we love the town hall, the current set-up doesn’t make the best use of the space. So – shaped by feedback from building users – the hall is being changed to allow a wider range of events AND to host multiple ones at the same time. As well as the new rooms already mentioned, there will be upgrades to the existing Alexander Wilson Suite and Loggia, improved sound-proofing, and all-new catering facilities and dressing rooms, allowing for more weddings and conferences. Space is being created for all the above by bringing the town hall basement back into use for storage.

9) A building accessible to everyone

Victorian architects created some stunning buildings but sadly they didn’t design them with wheelchairs or prams in mind. The town hall revamp will change that and work has been done with disability access groups to design a building everyone can get around seamlessly. Currently there are 12 sets of steps to go from top to bottom of the building. Once completed, you’ll be able to access the first floor with none – thanks to two new 21-person lifts, and new ramps for access to the Loggia and balcony.

10) It’s part of a much bigger plan

The work in the town hall is just one part of a much bigger investment in Paisley town centre over the years aimed at using our outstanding culture and heritage to bring people here. That includes a transformation of Paisley Museum which will almost quadruple current visitor numbers when it reopens in 2022, a new modern home for library services at the heart of the High St, and investment in key outdoor spaces including Abbey Close and County Square to expand their event capacity and create spaces where people will spend more time and money.

In a town that sees creeping influences of Mackintosh and Thomson amongst others, it very much extends the structural beauty of Glasgow to its neighbour in the west.

Neil Robertson
Travels With A Kilt