Thread Mills, Leisure


Working in Paisley’s thread mills meant a lot of things to the people who filed through the gate houses every day. It was hard and demanding work, often in hot and noisy conditions. The piecework system incentivised workers to stay at their machinery for as long as possible, so that their weekly wage did not suffer. The shifts could be long. Everybody was familiar with the presence of foremen and supervisors, who would keep a keen watch on the flats, and the toilets. Output was everything. But despite the demanding nature of everyday work, there was another, social side to life in the thread mills in Paisley. Many of the respondents to this project look back fondly at their time working at the Anchor and Ferguslie sites.  Some less so. Job satisfaction came not only from the wage in your pocket, but the social bonds that were created between your fellow workers on the flats. These social bonds were enhanced outside of the workplace, and for many resulted in life-long friendships. The nightlife in Paisley presented an opportunity for workers to spend their money, to celebrate a forthcoming marriage, or to congratulate somebody who had just retired from the mills. But, there were more regular leisure activities associated with mill life, ranging from cricket to scouting to annual trips for employees. Some of these reflected the paternalistic role that the Coats firm tried to promote in the community. And it was true that Coats invested in promoting leisure, providing facilities, and underwriting costs at times. However, the leisure activities also reflected the passions of the workers themselves, their workplace relationships, and the social bonds that the thread mills created.

Memoryscapes: Thread Mills

View Thread Mills Memoryscape

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Strathclyde Oral History Centre

Working with heritage professionals from the Scottish Oral History Centre, University of Strathclyde, the Paisley People’s Archive is creating an accessible and user-friendly oral history archive of Paisley's rich industrial past.
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