Step into Weaver’s Cottage and be transported back to the days when Kilbarchan was at the heart of the thriving Scottish textile industry. This restored historic 18th-century cottage near Glasgow vividly recreates the living and working conditions of a typical handloom weaver. See how a traditional tartan was made 200 years ago, completely by hand using original equipment in a unique setting. You can also have a go at weaving on a modern equivalent and try your hand with a spinning wheel. There are hundreds of tiny tartan fabric samples on display, all hand-woven in the village, and you can also see examples of the world-famous Paisley pattern. But it’s not all about weaving – the cottage has a fascinating collection of period furnishings, household objects, photographs and parish records, giving a real insight into everyday life in Scotland before the Industrial Revolution. Visitors can try their hand at the old skills of weaving, pirn winding and spinning. Plants and herbs used to make natural dyes are grown in the attractive cottage garden.
Weaver’s Cottage has plenty of activities to help children make the most of their visit. Learn about life in the cottage by picking up one of the quiz sheets, which ask them to find and identify various objects in each of the rooms. Steer them towards the rummage box, where they can touch to their heart’s content. There’s a variety of interesting old objects that they can smell, touch, pick up and play with, including a kettle, a shortbread mould, a washboard, carbolic soap, a Paisley shawl and a rag rug sample. For younger children, there’s a colouring table with pictures of the patterns used by the weavers for children to colour in, and mini-weaving using bright ribbons that even the smallest fingers can try. Everyone can have a go at rag-rug making, with help and advice on how to recycle clothing into lovely practical rugs. Staff and volunteers have made these rugs for other Trust properties including the Tenement House, Robert Burns Birthplace Museum and Moirlanich Longhouse.
Parking is available on the street beside the cottage. Unfortunately, there is no access available for wheelchair users. Access to and around the cottage is difficult, with two steps into the cottage, uneven floors, winding stairs and low ceilings. There is an uneven sloping garden with narrow gravel paths, but this is visible from the back room. Many handling objects are available for the visually impaired. There are scented plants in the garden. A subtitled audio-visual programme is available. Assistance dogs are welcome.
The Sma' Shot Cottage complex is unique in Scotland and allows a great opportunity to see two distinct periods in Paisley's weaving history. Sma Shot Cottages, Paisley is a fully restored and furnished 18th century weavers cottages with photographs, artifacts of local interest and a tearoom. Also featuring a row of mill workers houses from the 1840’s.
The cottage is a typical weaver’s cottage and is one of the only two remaining in Paisley. It was originally built in the 1740’s and its layout exactly matches written descriptions of such cottages as found in histories of the town. Slight alterations were made during the 1800’s in order to increase the size of the back room, thus providing more living space for the weaver and his family. The cottage has three rooms, two of which were living quarters, the third being a loom shop where the weaver and his family worked. Back in the 1700’s the cottage was a workshop as well as a home. Over and above looking after her husband, her children and the cottage, the weaver’s wife would spin and use the pirnwheel. The weaver would have to work very long hours in order to make enough money to support his wife and family.
This cottage is the only survivor of the original shuttle street, which was built from 1735 to the early 1750s, and belongs to the world of the hand loom weavers. It was built for Kerr and Pollock, a cloth manufacturer of Cork, in the early 1750s. The first direct reference to this Cottage is in a sasine of 1776, when it was one of the many properties bought by another Cork, Andrew Brown, after the failure of Kerr and Pollock, probably due to the collapse of the Bank of Ayr, some three years earlier. sma shotThe early history of the Cottage is linked with the Lawson family. David Lawson, and his wife Mary Porter, their son Robert Lawson, with his wife Lydia Lochhead, and Roberts three daughters, and his son Robert junior. David Lawson, journeyman weaver, and master with the incorporation of Old Weavers in Paisley, is the first known tenant, moving here around 1754. By 10th April 1758 he was in the position to take on an apprentice, John Aird, duly entered by the incorporation. There was no house numbers then, but the occupants of the other cottages on this side are known and the sasine of 1776 names David Lawson and Archibald Munro, Weavers, as the sitting tenants in what is now No. 14 Shuttle Street. Meanwhile John Aird had been entered journeyman to David Lawson in 1765, and Robert had been apprenticed to his father on 1st November 1774. In 1797, Robert bought the Cottage from Andrew Brown and Company.he had already bought a property of three steadings including an Inn at the foot of New Street. His parents, David Lawson and Mary Porter continued to live in Shuttle Street with Robert and his wife Lydia. David Lawson was now described as a school master, his son Robert as a weaver, while his grandson, Robert Junior, made weavers’ reeds, which were on sale at the inn.
Shortly after 1800 David Lawson died. Robert lived until about 1835 and Robert Junior to 1840. Robert Junior’s eldest sister, Mary, inherited all the properties, and lived with her husband in the New Street premises, which were made into a grocer’s shop. Mary leased the Shuttle Street cottage to a succession of Weavers. Weaving only ceased here when in the late 1860′s Mary, who was now a widow, came to live in the Cottage herself. Living with her were her grocer son and her sisters. In 1877 she sold up and moved with her sisters to a more up-to-date tenement flat. Her son found a shop in the High Street. Thus a Lawson was the tenant or owner of this cottage for over 120 years. A Q Lawson wove here for about 80 years, there were looms here for almost 110 years, and as you can see they have returned and are now restored and working on a part time basis. The purchase of the properties from Mary Lawson was completed in 1879 by Greenlees Bros., and the 1887 census shows that they put in as tenant Alex L Jeffrey, a 50 year old house painter and his family. In 1886 the cottage came into the hands of the Hutchisons of the wool-scouring works in George Place, who opened up the door in the wall between the cottage and the Sma’ Shot Cottages. The land then sloped up from the Weavers Cottage to that door.
The Hutchisons already owned the Cottage next to the Weaver’s Cottage, but neither of them was used for the business. In 1890 the cottage was being rented by a potato merchant named Robert Logan who was succeeded in 1898 by William Forsyth. The occupier listed from 1913 was a Prudential Insurance Agent, William Hume, and there was another change of tenant during the gap in the records over the Great War period. The succession of tenants continues with a cabinet maker, Andrew Robertson and his family who were in occupation from 1924 until at least 1946. By this time the widowed Mrs. Robertson lived in the loom shop having rented the room and kitchen to a Mr. & Mrs. Reid. It may have been Mrs. Robertson who installed a wooden dado around the loom shop walls to make the room more comfortable. It was during the removal of this dado as part of the restoration work in 1986, that the volunteers discovered the small second fireplace that would have been used by the weavers to hang their cans of loom dressing.
With the winding up of the Hutchison’s business in 1954, the properties were split up and sold separately. The George Place buildings, now the Sma’ Shot Cottages, were bought by a property company, allowing the sitting tenants to continue their occupancy. The Shuttle Street Weavers Cottage was purchased by the ironmongers, Lochhead and Carnduff, who used it for storage. For some time the George Place residents used the yard behind the Weavers Cottage as their drying green, until the ironmongers decided to level the ground and block the communicating door. By the 1970′s the Shuttle Street Cottage was disused. To save it from demolition a small group of Old Paisley Society Members formed a Trust and purchased it for £10,000.
After Experiencing life in the late 1700's you will cross a yard behind the cottage and jump forward in time by 70 years to experience life in the town during the early to mid 1800's as portrayed by a small row of three cottages comprising five dwelling houses. Ground floor areas of Sma’ Shot Cottages are wheelchair accessible, this includes the Weavers Cottage, the Heritage Garden & their tea room. Assistance dogs are welcome. Group visits outwith opening hours can be arranged on request.
Location : Weaver's Cottage, Shuttle Street, The Cross, Kilbarchan, Greater Glasgow & Clyde Valley PA10 2JG
Location : Sma' Shot Cottages, 2 Sma’ Shot Lane, Paisley, Renfrewshire PA1 2HG
Transport Weavers: Johnstone (National Rail) then bus (36). Bus Routes : 36 stops outside.
Transport Weavers: Paisley Canal (National Rail) then bus OR 7 minutes. Bus Routes : 10, 17, 26, 51, 54, 61, 66 and 160 stop close by.
Opening Times Weavers Cottage: 25th March - 30th September, Friday - Tuesday, 13:00 to 17:00
Opening Times Sma' Shot Cottages: April - September, Wednesday and Saturday, 10:00 to 16:00
Tickets Weavers Cottage: Adults £6.50; Concessions £5.00
Tickets Sma' Shot Cottages: Free
Tel. Weavers: 01505 705588
Tel. Sma' Shot: 0141 889 1708