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Latitude: 55.8448 / 55°50'41"N
Longitude: -4.4349 / 4°26'5"W
OS Eastings: 247645
OS Northings: 663971
OS Grid: NS476639
Mapcode National: GBR 3K.4T2N
Mapcode Global: WH3P5.VCB4
Entry Name: 5 and 7 West Paisley Brae, Paisley
Listing Date: 3 December 2002
Source: Historic Scotland
Source ID: 396532
Historic Scotland Designation Reference: LB49026
Building Class: Cultural
Electoral Ward: Paisley Northwest
Traditional County: Renfrewshire
Late 18th / very early 19th century. Single storey and attic, 4-bay vernacular former weavers' cottage on sloped site with partial basement and attached single and 2-storey, 2-3 bay vernacular tenemented cottage (interior forming 2 separate dwellings). Coursed droved sandstone rubble with droved long and short quoins and ashlar dressings; all now painted. Ashlar margins to all openings. Steep pitched, skew-gabled roofs.
NUMBER 5 (LEFT) AND NUMBER 7 (RIGHT):
SE (PRINCIPAL) ELEVATION: Number 5: small timber door to extreme left leading to subterranean room; to ground floor, 2 steps leading to later timber entrance door in 3rd bay with single window to bay 4 (weaver's accommodation); bipartite windows to bays 1 and 2 (weaver's workshop); to attic, bipartite timber dormers to outer bays adjacent to gables with catslide slated roofs and slated cheeks. Number 7: 3-bay ground floor with later timber door to left and small plain windows to centre and right; to 1st floor, window placed off-centre right above door and similar window aligned between bays 2 and 3. SW AND NE ELEVATIONS: gabled ends rising into gablehead stacks: high gable to SW shared with Number 3, central gable with number 7 rising from wallhead of Number 5. Asymmetric end gable (NE) of Number 7: 2-storey wallhead to left (front) and single storey wallhead to right (rear) with plain timber entrance door to upper storey.
NW (REAR) ELEVATIONS: to right, rear of Number 5 with 3 single windows and door aligned with those on principal elevation, plain roof (no dormers needed as it faces NW); to left, single storey rear elevation of Number 7 with door to right and window to left with long roof surmounting.
Later 4-pane glazing in timber sash and case windows to ground floor (SW elevation) of Number 5; all other windows (including bipartite dormers) original 16-pane glazing in timber sash and case windows. Very steep pitched slate roof to number 5 with slated bipartite catslide dormers flanking central 2-pane cast-iron Carron light, lead ridging (height of gable in relation to roof suggests previous thatching); similar dormer-less roof to Number 7. Painted cast-iron rainwater goods, gutters carried on moulded eaves course. Coursed ashlar gablehead stacks with band course and plain cans (wallhead stack to rear of Number 5 now missing).
INTERIOR: Number 5: stone basement with earth floor entered by door in main elevation, subterranean to right of elevation. Entrance door leading to through close (door exiting to rear); large open plan room to SW (weaver's workshop) with main fireplace in gable and smaller fireplace between 2nd and 3rd windows on rear elevation; attic accessed by small timber staircase, rooms lit by 2 front facing bipartite dormers. Further ground floor room to NW of passage, all rooms plain and basic. Number 7: tenement style plan comprising 2 tiny dwellings, ground floor access through main entrance door; small door in NE gable accesses other property. Both dwellings basic and vernacular.
Sited within The Cross/Oakshaw Conservation Area, these buildings are thought to some of the oldest remaining structures within the centre of Paisley. They are sited at the bottom of West Brae (formerly Hut Brae), which is dominated by the former John Neilson Education Institute. The area to the rear of these properties was formerly the playing fields for the school, which was set up to provide an education for poor children in Paisley. The steep hillside on which the cottages are set leads to a surviving vernacular interior plan. At Number 5, the right hand side of the elevation is accessed through the entrance door at near street level. The left hand side of the elevation falls away sharply with the ground floor appearing to be at 1st floor height with another door accessing a lower store area beneath the building. The ground floor was divided into 2 rooms split by a through passage; to the left of the entrance the well-lit weaver's workshop which would have contained the loom(s) and to the right, accommodation for the family. The upper rooms may also have been for accommodation as the pitch and height of the roof do not appear to allow for looms, but as they are SE facing and well lit it is possible spinning wheels were used up here. Old photographs of Paisley show comparable cottages; these too are weaver's cottages. They have similar attic dormers which are thatched with slating directly in front of the windows, the high S gable and the dormer shape of this cottage suggests this was also thatched in a similar style. Thatching in Paisley began to die out
after a by-law was passed which tried to dissuade owners from using this material (considered a serious fire hazard). Number 7 is in-built into Number 5's gable and is believed to have been associated with the weaving that went on. It is tenement-style accommodation and although not at first obvious, the rear of the property is only single storey as the roof falls sharply to a relatively low wallhead. It is actually 2 small dwellings, the second of which is entered by a door in the gable end. At the time of these cottages' construction, Paisley was renowned for weaving. In 1766 there had been 1767 handloom weavers in the town and after the introduction of
shawl manufacturing in 1803, it was believed there were 7000. The Paisley shawl was fashionable from around 1805 until 1870 when ladies overcoats replaced them. The weavers worked with linen and silk. As well as plain handlooms, drawlooms were also used; these were heavier and harder to operate than a handloom as they had lead weights, cords and a harness. A draw boy was employed to pull the bundles of cords for the weaver. Evidence survives that the main room at Number 5 was a weaving shop, whose business was later expanded. Maps show, to the rear of the property, a larger building was constructed (now lost) that may have held further looms. The plan and size of the rooms at the adjacent Number 7 could well have provided accommodation for extra workers employed in the weaving shed. The cottages have also been the subject for many years of paintings by artists due to their form and site on the hill. These buildings are listed for several reasons. They are early vernacular buildings conserving the historic and industrial past of Paisley; they are sited within a conservation area and provide an interesting variety to the streetscape.
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