A much-loved museum which celebrates the rich history of Paisley’s Thread Mills could face closure as volunteers launch an appeal for cash to keep it running.
Based in the Abbey Mill Business Centre, the Paisley Thread Mill Museum has been telling the story of the mill workers and the legacy it has left in the town for more than 20 years.
Since it opened in 2003, the ten dedicated volunteers behind it have lovingly collected and displayed hundreds of items, photographs and equipment related to the industry, which saw Paisley become the thread manufacturing epicentre of the world in the 19th century.
The vast collection has now amassed 15 displays and interactive video and image archives which have been visited by thousands of people.
The museum is set to open its doors again next month for the first time in over a year as part of Doors Open Day 2021.
But, while volunteers are delighted to be welcoming visitors back, they have now launched an urgent appeal to help them save the space from
The Covid-19 pandemic halted almost all of the museum’s income, leaving them struggling to find the £3,000 a year it takes to run.
They are now hoping generous Buddies – many of whom will have the mills threaded through their family history – will dig deep and help
Volunteer Paula Reynolds told the Express: “We haven’t been open since March last year and because of that, a lot of our income which we would normally get from people visiting, hosting events and donations has completely dried up.
“Now, as a consequence of that, we don’t have a lot of money left in the bank and we certainly don’t have enough to cover the cost of running the museum for the year.
“It’s not a lot, but it has still been difficult for us to find the money.
“So we thought what would be best would be to just come out and tell people what is going on in the hope that the people of Paisley would help us.”
Their fundraiser has proved to be a success so far, raising £1,307, with dozens of donors sharing their own connection to the Thread Mills which employed roughly 10,000 people in the town.
It is the support from the public which has kept the museum running for as long as it has, with many of the donations coming from Buddies.
“There has been so many times over the years before covid, that we have had people come in with boxes and bags of things which they have found in their loft or in the home of a loved one,” added Paula.
“It has really helped us build the collection which we now have.
“The interest has grown over the last ten years and I think the lockdown has sparked interest with young people as more are taking up sewing and textile-related hobbies.”
The volunteers, who Paula says run the space as a “labour of love”, are delighted with the support they have received so far.
They are hoping people’s connection to the mills’ history will encourage people to donate to the fundraiser.
She added: “The mills are such a big part of the town’s history and there are so many people whose families were involved.
“There are a lot of people who come here, particularly elderly people with dementia, who come alive when they come in and see everything we have.
“They start telling stories that their families have never heard.
“It is really wonderful thing to see and it shows that the history does mean a lot to people.”
The volunteers have also helped educate younger generations on the history of the Thread Mills.
In 2017, they were granted funding from Renfrewshire Council and the Heritage Lottery Fund to launch A Family of Threads.
Paula and other volunteers curated a touring exhibition on thread manufacturing and the Paisley and Renfrewshire mills and visited schools, care homes and hospices throughout the area.
It is an important part of the work they do, says Paula.
“Without someone preserving that history, it could be lost, she added.
“It was such a huge employer in the area and it was a real significant part of people’s lives.
“You only have to look around the streets in Paisley to see the impact it had.
“Even a number of social clubs which are still running today were started out of the mills.
“The whole town is ingrained in it.”
●To donate to the Paisley Thread Mill fundraiser, click HERE.
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