Thread Mills, Leisure, Scouts and Guides

Scouts and Guides

The thread mills in Paisley were also closely associated with the scouting movement, and this was a pastime that members of the Coats family were keen to see promoted in the local area. In 1921, Harold Glen Coats asked James Percy to form the 14th Paisley scout troop. Boys who wanted to join at this time had to work in the mills, and mostly came from the Dyeing and Turning departments. Their necktie colours were royal blue with a red border, chosen as this was the same colour code on a Coats spool ticket at this time. Robert Foulds started working in the Ferguslie mills just after the Second World War, and was closely associated with the scouting movement in the local area. Robert recalled:

“well, I started in the Coats Memorial Cubs in Walker Street Hall, and then, eh, I got into the Ferguslie Scouts, connected with the Ferguslie mill. We had a wee hall in Thomas Street. And there’s a photo, there, of skipper Percy, who was in charge of the Dyework, he formed the group, and eh, we were going to the Jamboree in Holland, and we sold White Windsor soap, so that we could get (there) cheaper, and he took us to Holland. That was the last Jamboree that Baden Powell (attended).”

Robert was referring to the 5th World Scout Jamboree, in 1937, and his recollection illustrates how the scouting movement offered opportunities for travel and new experiences for children in Paisley. James Percy was a manager in the Dyeworks in Ferguslie, and Robert was grateful for his work, and the memories that he has of his time in the scouts. Coats contributed financially to the local movement, and Robert noted that, “the mill helped us very, very much, and it was quite an experience.”Coats also encouraged employees to become involved in the Girls Guides Movement, and this dates back to 1915, five years after the founding of the Guides movement. Both Anchor and Ferguslie Guides formed as the Fourth and Fifth Paisley respectively. The first captain of the Ferguslie Guides was Katherine Coats, the great, great-granddaughter of Peter Coats, and the Guides played an active role in the local community. Maisie Murray remembered with fondness her involvement with the girl guides in Paisley. Maisie started working in the Embroidery Mill just after the Second World War, and remembered that her father, who also worked in the mills, put her name forward, along with the Guide Captain. Being in the guides brought a sense of identity, Maisie noted, saying:

“It was the Fourth Paisley Guides, and when I went in at first, I was just an ordinary guide, then, I was made a Patrol Leader, and my patrol was the Purple Heather, which I was very proud of.”


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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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