Plans for Paisley to build a legacy of its UK City of Culture 2021 bid are being financially supported by Coats – the company which made the town the centre of a global empire.
Coats – the world’s largest industrial thread manufacturer – was last year one of 15 firms to pledge £20,000 towards the costs of Paisley hosting the cultural title, should it have won.
And members of the company’s board of directors have confirmed that pledge remains in place for projects promoting the ambitious bid legacy plans of the firm’s birthplace.
Members of the Coats Group plc board, including chairman Mike Clasper CBE and group chief executive Rajiv Sharma, made the announcement during a visit to the town.
Photo: Coats chairman Mike Clasper CBE and group chief executive Rajiv Sharma with Renfrewshire’s Provost Loraine Cameron and Cllr Lisa-Marie Hughes, chair of Renfrewshire Leisure
While here, they were given a tour of Paisley Museum and Coats Observatory – both built by the Coats family – and Paisley: The Secret Collection – the UK’s first high-street museum store and home to many of the items the mill owners bequeathed to the town.
Paisley is pushing ahead with ambitious plans to deliver on the vision of the 2021 bid to transform the area’s future using its internationally-significant heritage and cultural assets.
That includes a £100m+ investment in town centre venues and infrastructure, including a £42m project to make Paisley Museum into an international-class destination showcasing the town’s rich textile heritage and unique collections.
The Paisley 2021 legacy plan also includes ambitious plans to grow the area’s major events programme, invest in its independent cultural sector, develop as a hub of creative industry, and harness the power of culture to make people’s lives better across health and education services.
The work will be underpinned by the new destination brand paisley.is, which aims to promote Renfrewshire as a great place to live, visit and invest, and help grow the local visitor economy.
While the 19,000 employees of Coats are spread across six continents, the company retains a presence in Paisley – with a high-tech colour management technology team overseeing the dyeing of products manufactured across the globe from its base in the historic Abbey Mills complex.
Members of the Coats board were met at the museum by Councillor Lisa-Marie Hughes, chair of Renfrewshire Leisure, who operate the museum, and by Renfrewshire’s Provost Lorraine Cameron, who also hosted a short civic reception for the board on Monday evening.
Cllr Hughes said: “We are delighted to have welcomed the Coats board to the town and thank them for their contribution towards Paisley’s ongoing transformation.
“While the modern Coats company is very different from the one which started life in Paisley in the 19th century, the spirit of innovation and creative industry which saw it grow to be one of the biggest companies in the world is still at the core of what it does.
“Just as Paisley made textiles, textiles made Paisley – many of the most striking parts of Paisley’s iconic skyline grew from the generosity of the Coats family, as did the globally-significant collections in our museums.
“With the museum set to undergo a transformation into a major visitor destination over the next few years, it was great to show the board how the shared heritage and creative spirit of Paisley and Coats will be at the heart of the town’s future.”
Rajiv Sharma, Group Chief Executive, Coats said: ‘Coats is extremely proud of its heritage, which is inextricably linked with Paisley. We are delighted to confirm that we remain committed to the financial pledge we made when we backed the Paisley 2021 bid last year. The tremendous energy and focus that emerged during the bid process has created a legacy which we want to support.’