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Paisley, Blackhall Factory

Office (21st Century), Paper Mill (19th Century), Silk Factory (19th Century)

Site Name Paisley, Blackhall Factory

Classification Office (21st Century), Paper Mill (19th Century), Silk Factory (19th Century)

Alternative Name(s) Blackhall House

Canmore ID 79705

Site Number NS46SE 86

NGR NS 4885 6343

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
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Administrative Areas

  • Council Renfrewshire
  • Parish Paisley (Renfrew)
  • Former Region Strathclyde
  • Former District Renfrew
  • Former County Renfrewshire

Site Management (19 October 2012)

Originally silk throwing mill, converted into paper mill in late 19th century, subsequently converted for office use. 4-storey and attic cream painted brick 13-bay mill range with 7-stage red brick tower to NE; further reduced 2-storey range to E forming U-plan. Brick; render to S elevation. Segmental headed openings with projecting masonry cills.

Blackhall House is a very prominent building located on the S bank of the White Cart River; its tower is highly visible from many vantage points across the town. Historically this area was Paisley's industrial heartland; successive OS maps show the increasing number of large complexes of mills and other works in the area. The building´s regular elevations are good examples of those found on large mill buildings.

Blackhall House is notable for its segmental headed openings to all elevations and the round headed windows to the gable ends. The tower is also highly distinctive with its piended roof and brattishing. This mill may well be the only purpose built silk throwing mill in Scotland, and was built for D Speirs and Son in around 1848 (Hume). The term 'throwing' can describe a particular part of the silk making process, that of giving the twist to the yarns, or can mean the entire process of turning raw silk into threads. Paisley had an international reputation for its textiles and although silk production was never on the scale of the more famous cotton (such as at the nearby Anchor Mills). This building is important evidence of Paisley´s industrial past. The decline of the silk industry is demonstrated by the fact that this factory was converted into a paper mill by the end of the 19th century (see 2nd Edition OS map), when it is likely that the silk throwing firm went out of business. The site has been much altered with the reduction of the parallel 4-storey range to 2-storeys and the loss of several ancillary buildings. However the remaining 4-storey range and tower are important examples of industrial architecture and make a valuable contribution to the social and economic history of the town, as well as to its streetscape, and given the loss of many of these types of buildings, are an important survival.

Plans for the conversion of the mill were submitted in 1903 by A F Craig and Co for the conversion to a paper mill for William MacIntyre Jr and Co (DSA). (Historic Scotland)


Standing Building Recording (15 August 2016 - 25 August 2016)

NS 48842 63457 A Level 2 building survey was undertaken, 15–25 August 2016, of the Category C listed Blackhall Mill. Paisley was one of the largest centres of textile manufacture in Scotland during the 18th and 19th centuries, and focused on the production of cotton and silk. The greater part of this built historic heritage disappeared in the course of modernisation and urban extension in the 20th and 21st century.

The industrial mill buildings date from the mid-19th century, although several later alterations and extensions were made to the buildings. Blackhall Mill is a rare example of a purpose built silk throwing mill. Several phases of construction could be seen within the fabric. The site was extensively altered in the 20th century to accommodate modern fittings, which possibly caused a significant loss of its interior historic fabric. Following years of neglect, the buildings are in a mediocre to poor state, and some areas of structural instability are evident.

Archive: NRHE (intended)

Funder: Southwark Investments

Ariane Buschmann and Richard Newman – Wardell Armstrong Archaeology

(Source: DES, Volume 17)


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