Friends of RWH1697 Membership

RWH1697 is a Membership based Charity, and operates as A Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation No. SC04364.

We have a membership package available at the annual cost of £5, that gives you:
The opportunity to participation in Re-enactments,
2 Annual Newsletters,
Advanced notification of events,
Reduced entry to some events,
Reduced prices on history classes,
Reduced prices on our Walking Tours,

All friends are members of RWH1697 and are eligible to vote at the AGM .


Download the Membership Leaflet here, and return with payment to the Hub.

Our membership year starts at our AGM in February.

Heritage & Creative Hub Activities

rwh shop banner-web

Another new week and our doors are open!

Why not pop into the Heritage & Creative Hub and find out about our crafting classes:
knitting on a Wednesday 1pm-3pm;
Crochet on Friday 10am-12noon or our
Children’s Storytelling Monday 1pm-3pm,
Art Classes Tuesday and Thursday 10am-12noon,
or our History lessons on a Tuesday afternoon 1.30pm – 3.30pm.

We are also setting up Quilting classes on a Friday Afternoon from 1pm-3pm. All classes are £5 per session, with materials provided. (History lessons are £40 for a 4 week session or £10 a week.)

If you are interested, you can pop into the hub, send us a message facebook, or use our contact page here.

Charity Trustees

Charity Trustees

To help support the ongoing work of RWH 1697 we are looking for new Charity Trustees to join our Board. We want to hear from enthusiastic people who would like to be members of this exciting and worthwhile project and who are willing to stand for election as Charity Trustees.

Because we are committed to involving all local people, young and older and including those with disabilities or physical or mental health issues we believe that this project delivers real social impact. All our volunteers have access to a wide range of opportunities from research, writing, costume, scenic design to provision of administrative support and from participation in re-enactments to being part of essential technical back-up teams.  We believe it is important for everyone to share in the learning so RWH 1697 has produced educational resources and made these available on the web site. The school learning packs for teachers and both primary and secondary pupils have been developed to make the learning experience both interesting and varied as well as meeting the requirements of the Curriculum of Excellence.

Renfrewshire Witch Hunt 1697 - October 5th 2013 (Photo Taken By Sian Minto)

With ongoing development of the current outreach programme and having a growing number of partnerships with local museums, schools, Local Authority social work departments and education services, college and university departments as well as with tourism agencies, Creative Renfrewshire Network and The Paisley Centre RWH1697 team feel confident that this project will be a powerful regeneration tool and of continuing and long-term benefit to Paisley and indeed to the whole region.

RWH 1697 has been acknowledged as being in line with the current heritage assets strategy review being undertaken by Renfrewshire Council

Please download the application here, fill it in and return it to

Renfrewshire Witch Hunt 2013 festival huge success as thousand strong-crowd gathers to replay events of 1697

Renfrewshire Witch Hunt 1697 - October 5th 2013 (Photo Taken By John Donlin)On Saturday 5th of October we successfully took Paisley Town Centre back to the 17th century, to a time when accusation and fear was palpable. Our annual re-enactment festival, which explores an incredibly dark period in Renfrewshire’s past, was a massive hit.

The crowd were treated to performances from community groups from across Renfrewshire, Karen E Moir dance & drama ,Turning point Scotland, Kibble Education & care centre, Bargarran Youth club, Erskine Girls brigade, Sma Shot cottages, Momentum, Capability Scotland, Razzamataz Theatre School,  Sonas Gaelic Choir and Historical Adventures. They all performed at various points throughout the six hour long event after been provided Outreach Drama Workshops from John Adam, Fablevision Studios in the months leading up to the event.

Renfrewshire Witch Hunt 1697 - October 5th 2013 (Photo Taken By Dougie Coull)

Erskine Theatre Company, who wrote the re-enactment and taught the actors who performed the main re-enactment on the stage that was erected in the towns County Square. The actors range from 7 years old to 70 years old with different backgrounds and abilities. Months of rehearsals in West College Scotland Paisley Campus the strong group of 50 actors came together on the 5th and put on a show that they will never forget and neither will the people of Paisley.


Renfrewshire Witch Hunt 1697 - October 5th 2013 (Photo Taken By John Donlin)

Saturday’s re-enactment was the second annual festival, but the first after Renfrewshire Witch Hunt 1697 since being its own Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation that was formed by young core group members from the Paisley Development Trust Project the previous year. Despite last year’s being a considerable success, this year’s event firmly set the bar drawing in a remarkably bigger audience. Finishing with a public procession led by a horse and cart, the crowd followed the actors from the County Square down to the Paisley Abbey, where torches were lit to signify the burning of the witches. The cast were then greeted by rapturous applause before returning to the Renfrewshire Witch Hunt shop to put their 21st century clothes back on and return to the present day. The festival event manager Ian Findlay (Fablevision Studios), brought the festival together after having to make changes last minute due to unforeseen circumstances.

Renfrewshire Witch Hunt 1697 - October 5th 2013 (Photo Taken By Sian Minto)Academics, local business people and community activists had attended a conference at the University of the West of Scotland the previous day, entitled: ‘Building Paisley’s Heritage: A Resource for Tourism and Regeneration?” to discuss the heritage of the town and consider case studies from other areas where urban regeneration has been led by cultural tourism.

Renfrewshire Witch Hunt 1697 - October 5th 2013 (Photo Taken By Rosie Jake Photography)Salem in the USA has used its dark witch history to great effect as a tourist attraction. Most notably in the UK, Salford and Gateshead are examples where manufacturing industries have decayed but regeneration has occurred through investment in major cultural and heritage projects. The Lowry in the former and the Sage in the latter, have created a new identity and generated fresh prosperity in these areas.

With the Mod also coming to Paisley this month, it’s quite clear to us that Paisley’s economy benefits greatly from such cultural events. Many of those executed in 1697 were Gaels from the Western Isles who had come to the town seeking work (their strange, incomprehensible tongue sounding threatening and foreign to lowland Paisley buddies).Saturday was therefore filled with Gaelic speech and song, acting as a precursor of what is to come with the Mod fest next week.

Perhaps an 11 year old girl from the 17th century is still influencing the fortunes of her local area.

RWH will now continue to do touring exhibitions, outreach work and it will also continue to visit Renfrewshire Schools, community centres, libraries and museums to put on smaller re-enactments and teach local people about the history of their hometown and heritage. Saturday’s success will be used a platform to build on and work towards achieving the SCIO’s strategic ambitions of growth and development into a fully established social enterprise.

If you would like to get involved with the project, have our actors come out and perform or anything else then please email

Re-Enactment Festival Is Upon Us!

With only three weeks to go until the big day we are all getting very excited and everyone is pulling together for the final push towards the event. There is still some chance to be involved with the re-enactment festival with opportunities for Event Stewards and also Photographers/Vidographers Re-enactment Festival

Things are progressing well with the costumes, recruiting a new volunteer Ailsa to help complete the last few. Ann our Costume Coordinator is happy with the progress and is confident that all the work needed will be completed over the next three weeks withe spare costumes that the public could come and “borrow” on the day. More details of this soon. We have allocated costumes to specific characters now. So everyone now has the exact costume related to their character, and gives them a sense of membership and also responsibility.


We moved to Reid Kerr College (West College Scotland – Thanks again for all the support) for Thursday rehearsals (5.30pm to 8pm) and it has been very beneficial, allowing us to rehearse more sections of the re-enactment than was possible in the shop. Saturday rehearsals remain located in the Paisley Centre from 11am until 1pm. Touring exhibition slots with community groups and schools are developing and have been very well received. Some cast changes – welcome to the new members, and we look forward to linking with the outreach groups in due course.

Re-Enacment at airport birefing

Natalie Elliott giving instruction to the Actors on her last touring exhibition at Glasgow Airport

We are delighted to support Natalie Elliott in her new post as the co-ordinator for Creative Renfrewshire Network. There will be much that we can continue to do together as we recommit ourselves to the regeneration of Renfrewshire through the identification and building on our cultural assets. We will miss her very much from the Shop, the touring exhibition and rehearsals but we are glad that she will be able to continue as a volunteer in her spare time.

Glasgow Airport – Best of Scotland – Witches Perfom

Some of the cast with Rob Miller from Glasgow Airport

Rob Miller Commercial Account Manager at Glasgow Airport With some of the cast

The first of what we hope will be a long term relationship with Glasgow Airport as part of the Best of Scotland Campaign happened on Friday , 30th August when we inhabited the departures hall with bemused, costumed characters from 1697. Our cast members were terrified of the flying carriages (no horses even!) and strange display boards. People talking into sticks, tapping their fingers on boards and drinking out of cups that seemed to smash when pressed too harshly were only some of the terrifying experiences they encountered.   Modern day travelers found the antics amusing and certainly entertained them as they waited for their delayed flights to Malaga – Liz Gardiner (Project Coordinator)



People in Paisley town centre on the 30th August were intrigued as some of our cast walked from the Paisley Performance at Glasgow AirportCentre to get the service bus 757 to Glasgow Airport – soon we were lined up at the bus shelter at Gilmour Street station along with other passengers who were interested to know what we were doing, and there was also the opportunity to chat briefly to travelers entering and leaving the station – the bus arrived, and the driver and existing passengers coped very well with us all getting on board – in our varied costumes it certainly made for a colourful picture as we sat with the other passengers, many of whom were very interested in what we were about!

The Glasgow Airport experience was itself quite something, and we were soon busily engaging with passengers and staff as we re-enacted parts of our story, even indulging in conversations in French and Spanish!

A very good experience for cast who were able to attend, and a good team exercise! – Jim Rutherford ( Artistic Director)

Outreach Groups Update

With just over four weeks to go till Paisley is transported back in time to 1697, the community is rallying round to make sure we get hundreds of people involved in the festivities on the 5 October. We have over 170 participants from community groups all over Renfrewshire who have been working out street scenes for the day under the fantastic leadership and guidance of our Creative Outreach Leader for the project, John Adam.

Community Group

A group performing a street scene for our 2012 festival

The groups are now in the process of developing the characters they have created and constructing the unique, individual street scenes that they will go on to perform on the day. Some of these groups include Renfrewshire Carers, Turning Point Scotland, Razzamataz Theatre School, Baragrran Youth Club and lots more, all of whom will be dressed up and performing their distinctive pieces on the 5th.

There are still loads of ways to get involved in the outreach work whether that’s a community group looking to perform on the day, volunteer outreach workers who would like to work with us to gain experience and add to their CV and even set and prop building opportunities. If any of these are areas that interest you then get in touch or alternatively pop into the shop to get a better idea of what the project is all about. We’re looking forward to seeing you soon!

Louisa Taylor
Studios Creative Manager

Research Update

Research Update.

Over the past 6 months research has been limited to looking at the genealogy of Christian Shaw, and this will take a Christian Shaw Grave Edinburgh - Research Updatelot longer to uncover.  What we can say is that Christian certainly had 4 siblings: Elizabeth, John, James and Jean.  As work progresses more information will he published.

At our conference in June 2012, we also announced the recent finding that we had discovered the death and burial of Christian Shaw on the 8th September 1737 in Provost Tods Tomb in Greyfriars Kirk Yard in Edinburgh.

Tracking Christian down in this period is hard, as after her marriage to the Rev Millar in 1719, she is known as both Christian Shaw and Mrs Millar and also as Mrs Livingstone after her second marriage in 1737.

One question that has come up is why did Christian move from Johnstone, where the Bargarran Thread Company was doing well, to Edinburgh?  Well this year we can now tell you why.

Christian’s introduction of fine linen thread manufacturing to Renfrewshire sparked a county wide industry by the early 18th Century.   Christian’s business head must have brought her to the attention of many of the senior people in the Linen Industry to the extent that when the Board of Manufacturers and Fisheries was established in 1727, Christians name soon appears in their minute book.

On the 6th October 1727 a Mrs Millar appears to be present at the Board of Trustees meeting where discussions take place on the condition of spinning in the country:

“Edinb. 6th October 1727,

Mr Donaldson & Mrs Millar were discoursed with upon spinning & the way to remedy the defects that it at present labours under here.  Who gave it as their opinion that both fine and good spinning want to be promoted if not introduced, which they believe might be done by the direction of some expert foreign spinners selling here or by some encouragement to those of this county who have made the greatest progress therein.”

On the 13th October plans submitted by Mr Donaldson and Mrs Millar were sent to the Linen Committee for discussion.  By the 3rd November Christian was back in Edinburgh at the Committee:

“Edinb. 3rd November 1727,

Recommended to Lord Monsieur, messrs McCauley, Drummond and Patterson to converse with Mrs Millar of Johnstoune now in town, and bring in her proposals for spinning and twisting thread.”

Between November and December the minutes of the Board of Trustees are concerned with the establishment of Spinning Schools.  On the 15th December 1727 they minute, that a School in Edinburgh has been approved the magistrates of the Edinburgh.  The next mention of the school comes in April 1728:

“Edinb. 12th April 1728,

… As was also a precept on the cashiers for paying over to Mrs Millar, Mistress of the Spinning School erected by the plan at Edinburgh Fifty pounds sterling as her salarie from the first of April last to the first of April next 1729.”

From this entry it is obvious that Christian has been appointed to the main Spinning School.  The board must have considered her a very intelligent woman to receive such a handsome salary. The Mistress of the Galsgow Spinning School founded at a similar time only received a salary of £30!

The entry of April 1729 all but confirms the Mrs Millar we have been looking at is indeed Christian.

“Edinb. 18th April 1729,

A precept on the cashiers for paying over out of the monies appropriated to the Linen & Hemp Manufacturers for the year 1729 to Christian Shaw relict of Mr John Millar minister of the Gospel, Fiftie pounds sterling in full of her salary payable per advance for the year from the first of April 1729 to the first of April 1730 as mistress of the Spinning School erected in Edinburgh.”

As yet we have still to look at the records past 1730, but we are gradually beginning to understand Christian Shaw’s part in the growth of the Linen and Thread industry not only in Renfrewshire, but in Scotland as a whole.

Christian’s appointment to the Spinning School certainly explains the move from Johnstone to Edinburgh, and it also explains how she met and eventually married William Livingstone in Edinburgh in 1737.

Stephen Clancy,


Horse and Cart – Event Update

This week Ian (Event Operations Manager) was away at Pollock Country Park to meet with Lorraine Clark to see the horse and cart, who is the head carter at the park. Lorraine had met with Ian last week to walk the route of the procession and got a chance to see some of the work that we do in the Renfrewshire Witch Hunt shop including some of our 17th Century costume.

The horse and cart for the accused.

The cart proper name a dray (pictured right), will have the 7 accused in it as they are taken from the top of Paisley High Street down into County Square and ending in Abbey Close where the re-enactment will take place. The cart will be decorated as if it has just been tranported her straight from the 17th century and Lorraine and the other professional operators will be in full costume for their job at the time. They will be followed by the other characters from the re-enactment, including towns folk, militia, family and friends and also their accusers.

Last year the horses and cart took everyone’s breath away, its not a usual sight to see in the streets of Paisley. You really dont want to miss this!

There will be the opportunity to get your picture taken with the horses and cart prior the public procession at 3pm, that will be down in County Square.

You should go have a walk around Pollock Country Park and got have a look at the horses before the big day!