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Kilts For Hire Paisley history

Kilts for hire also known as Houston Kiltmakers has been established since 1909 in the heart of Paisley. Paisley is rich in heritage and culture known as the largest town in Scotland. This post will cover some history of Kilts For Hire in Paisley and Paisley itself.

Where is Paisley ? -

Paisley is a town located on the outskirts of Glasgow in the west end of Scotland , known as the largest town in Scotland. Paisley is about a 5 minute drive from Glasgow airport.


By Bus - 30 minutes from Glasgow , 1hr 45 minutes from Edinburgh

By Train- 15 minutes from Glasgow , 1hr 15 minutes from Edinburgh

By Car- 10-15 minutes from Glasgow, 1hr 20 minutes from Edinburgh

father and son photo in kilt shop
Houston kiltmakers , Ken MacDonald shop owner (right) & son Ewan MacDonald shop director (left)
Kiltsforhire in paisley -

Kiltsforhire is additionally known as Houston Kiltmakers within the paisley area , established in 1909 , kilts for hire is a 4th generation family business , with our store right in the heart of paisley which is known for its textile and weaving industry history.

The shop was founded in 1909 by Ken MacDonald's grandfather William Houston. The business focus was on gentlemen's formal wear shop and , started to introduce highland wear as its main focus not long after.

Kilts for hire is now fourth generation family run with Ewan MacDonald's , Ken MacDonald's son following his father's lead of the business.

picture of shop front past and present
Houston Kiltmakers shop front

Ken has been involved in the tartan, Highland Wear and Menswear Industry for over 40 years and this has led him into the positions of Vice-Chairman of The Scottish Tartans Authority and Deacon of the Incorporation of Weavers of Glasgow (Est. 1514).

Both Ken & Ewan MacDonald have decades of experience and both specialise in premium highland wear & tartan design.

Kilts for hire offers the widest available range of tartans to hire & buy , only using the highest quality tartan cloth , tweeds & hand made accessories , we also offer your own tartan design to buy & get registered with the Scottish tartan registry.

Due to the long term success of the business , Kiltsforhire ship our premium highland wear on an international level and have attracted some big name & royal connections.

selection of tartan swatches
The Bute heather collection

Houston Kiltmakers is the only place in the world you can hire and shop our own Bute heather collection. A beautiful growing collection of tartans designed by Ken MacDonald that started with our Scottish Heather tartan and led ken on to create our signature tartan staples at Kiltsforhire.

This is an exclusive collection of only the finest quality tartans designed by the owner and have been perfect for any event since they were designed in 2007 & still our top sellers.

Paisleys rich heritage and history:

Paisley pattern & mills

paisley pattern fabric swatches
Paisley pattern
women working spinning thread
Paisleys cotton thread production

Paisley is primarily known for its imprint within the textile industry. The famous Paisley pattern was associated with Paisley town through the famous mills of Paisley. Paisley mills were at one point was responsible for 90% of thread in the world. The pattern was spotted globally and present commonly in couture fashion.

Paisley town was commonly known for shawls and different countries created different variations of Paisley pattern for their individual fashion industries. Paisley town mills were swamped with orders for the production of shawls , Paisley was home to over 7000 weavers in the town. Weaving a shawl would take an entire two weeks and the entire concept to product time was around 6 months from design , to production , to being available for sale.

The Coats Family & empire

family group picture
Coats family photograph

The coats family became one of the most well known families associated with paisley & the Scottish textile industry.

James & Peter Clark both lived and worked in paisley as weaver furnishers providing items needed by weaving industry.

Peter also known as Patrick Clark began to produce heddles of cotton over silk & made success of his venture increased demand for cotton thread, James came up with the idea to sell wounded thread on bobbins.

James Coats was born into a Paisley family of weavers in 1774, these families later collaborated to create their own recognisable mark on Paisleys textile industry. The Clark firm as growing moved to marketing & production of 3 ply thread , as of the Clarks success a large mill was built in Seedhill Paisley.

James coats business focus at the time was working on silk & canton crepe during the building of his business. James Coats went on to use his small funds to build a small factory in Ferguslie Paisley which went on to be the vast Ferguslie mill well known to this day. James retired and passed his firm to his sons James , Peter , Andrew & Thomas which went on to rename the company J&P Coats.

picture of two drawers with spools sitting on top
J&P Coats ltd sewing thread

Both Business went on to progress to the production of spooled thread, both business went global and were successful & started increasing production of global scales and areas.

In 1896, the Coats and Clark firms merge to form J&P Coats Ltd, with a market value of around £22 million, over 50,000 employees worldwide, and approximately 25,000 shareholders.

front of church memorial
Thomas Coats memorial church

The Coats homes & Ferguslie mill still remains some of the most well known buildings in Paisley & there is status of Thomas Coats in the town centre of Paisley , the well known Coats memorial was also built in memory and tribute to Thomas Coats & his family.

Paisley cultural & historical events

The paisley radicals -

old photo of st peters filed attack
peaceful protest known as "slaughter at Manchester"

The Paisley radicals refers to an era of the 1820s during the weaving mills & production times of Paisley.

Radicals were a group of political protesters of working people who protested they were being unfairly paid and living and working conditions for Scottish weavers, spinners, colliers and manual labourers.

Radicals argued the pay of the working people wasn't matched to the cost of living and costs of goods, to officially request change they had to send a petition to the government in London.

In 1816 60,000 people gathered to communally agree of one such petition and call for reform. At the time, it was the largest political gathering ever held in Scotland or Britain. Another 60,000 people gathered again in 1819 at St Peters Fields in Manchester.

Guard on horse holding long sword
Calvary at St Peters Fields

The Government cavalry was sent out in panic at such a crowd & they charged at the crowd with sabres. 14 people died and 650 were injured during this attack. radicals and reformers were appalled by this behaviour & 15,000 peaceful protesters gathered in Paisley to rally injustice for the Manchester attack.

There was talk of cooperation between the Scottish and English border across multiple Scottish and English cities all mutually agreeing the moral force and protesting wasn't working and radicals decided to make a more powerful statement by physical force.

In the end of 1819 secret radical groups would send delegates to meetings in English alliance cities, they planned armed strikes in the north and south of the border. Hundreds of working class men made diy weapons and spikes with as little and cheap material as possible.

The government was applying similar strategies to send spying to radical groups for information and plans. There is a many known names of men during this time who would betray the other side for money , silver or goods.

The radicals postered recruitment protesters for like minded civilians to join in an armed protest to regain their rights this started in Glasgow , Paisley & Ayrshire. 60,000 people went on strike and 11 mill's between Paisley & Renfrewshire were closed. With concern by the authorities military enforcements were on standby.

flag held up against tomb stone
slogan flag at deceased's memorial

The radical group was heading towards Falkirk in hopes of possession of cannons ran into a group of government soldiers at Bonnymuir and lead to the battle between them in which the radicals lost and taken to be prisoners.

A well respected group of weavers stood up in march from Strathaven carrying flags entitled " Scotland free or Scotland a desart" in efforts to join a French army to attack Glasgow non of which was real.

The government cracked down on radical members , with arrests , open fire , radicals taken to court for treason , men sentenced to death and beheading. Twelve years later, the Great Reform Act of 1832 laid the first paving stones on the long road which eventually led to democracy and universal adult suffrage.

This is only an insight to small moments in paisleys rich history , paisley is full of culture and a historically packed town , Kiltsforhire has been established since 1909 and our experts have 4 generations worth of knowledge and industry experience.

Kiltsforhire aims to be round for many years to come to witness and be apart of paisleys community and history throughout the years like we have since 1909.

Additional information -
If you have any enquiries about bookings , hiring , bespoke or buy items our experts are more than happy to help in store or by contacting us at or alternatively calling us on 0141 889 4879.


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