22 May 2024
  • 22 May 2024

Paisley Colour Photographic Club: pictures of Renfrewshire

on 22 April 2024 0

Eddie Middleton from Paisley Colour Photographic Club expounds on the scenic and architectural wonders found on our doorstep alongside incredible images from the longstanding institution’s best and brightest

Last year, Paisley Colour Photographic Club set its members a challenge to capture images illustrating the best of Renfrewshire. For many the immediate association will be with the larger population centres that nestle on the border of Glasgow: the old county town of Renfrew as well as Johnstone and, of course, Paisley. 

The rich history of Paisley as a centre for the textile industry might bring to mind Victorian urban architecture and cobbled streets, perfectly illustrated by a shot of Oakshawhead on a particularly foggy night.

However, there is another side and the vaguely mysterious Stanely Castle, positioned at the foot of the Gleniffer Braes, was probably built in the early 15th century. The castle and the reservoir in which it now stands provide a sanctuary for nature and photographers alike. Consequently, it is a location that rewards visits throughout the season. 

Paisley Colour Photographic Club

The Monkey House by Kenny Graham

Paisley Colour Photographic Club

St Fillan’s Kirk by Eddie Middleton

Paisley Colour Photographic Club

Road near Barnbeth, Bridge of Weir by Duncan McEwan

More recently, Renfrewshire has become associated with a series of what could be described as dormitory towns, providing good links into Glasgow and easy access to the airport. Indeed, on a clear day, you can see Glasgow from a number of the villages dotted around Johnstone and Paisley.

Focusing on the larger population centres and the links to them, however, ignores the rich rural heritage of Renfrewshire. Agriculture remains an important part of the area’s economy and between the various villages are a series of active farms, supporting both arable and livestock farming.

The network of smaller roads between the villages, complete with picturesque bridges and pastoral views, perfectly illustrate this longer history of agriculture and countryside living. The villages themselves retain vestiges of older settlements, with the old St Fillan’s Kirk reputedly dating back to the 10th or 11th century. The use of the site itself is also believed to predate the kirk by at least a couple of centuries.

Paisley Colour Photographic Club

Quarriers Bridge by Douglas Forrest

Paisley Colour Photographic Club

River Gryffe by Eddie Middleton

There are, of course, more recent landmarks. Formakin House is one example and is known less formally as the Monkey House on account of the stone mammals that sit atop the lodge houses. This was built on the site of earlier buildings by John Augustus Holms and later restored and converted into separate dwellings.

With such easy access to the countryside, it is perhaps no surprise there are leisure opportunities aplenty. Knapps Loch, which borders Kilmacolm, provides a network of paths and is a popular spot for dog-walkers. In addition, it also boasts an angling club and is another regular spot for photographers. 

The network of paths around the county also appeal to walkers and, for example, on a riverside walk by the Gryffe, it is easy to forget that you’re within sight of Scotland’s most populous city. This section forms just part of the Gryffe Valley Way, a walking route that follows existing tracks, lanes and other pathways from Loch Thom down to Linwood.

Paisley Colour Photographic Club

Paisley Sun Rise by Debbie Whittingham

Lochwinnoch RSPB by Eddie Middleton

Lochermill Bridge in Autumn by Eddie Middleton

The signposting of the path was recently completed by Gryffe Valley Rotary. Boasting access to the network of national cycle routes that run from coast to coast, route 75 links Houston and Bridge of Weir to Greenock and Kilmcolm to the west and Johnstone at the other end. Here it joins the long and meandering Route 7, which runs from Inverness to Sunderland, via Dumfries.

More locally, this route runs through Lochwinnoch where, in addition to the leisure facilities at Castle Semple, we have the RSPB reserve. The wetlands here are a great place to watch whooper swans, and a broad variety of ducks, including goldeneye during winter months or great crested grebes in spring. The surrounding woodland is a lovely place to enjoy nature, whatever the season.

Houstonhead Dam, Bridge of Weir and Distant Glasgow by Duncan McEwan

Autumn at Knapps Loch by Kenny Graham

Foggy night on Oakshawhead by Ken Dow

Given the variety of things to point your viewfinder at that is on offer, it’s probably not surprising that Renfrewshire has a rich photographic tradition, including serving as the home of Scotland’s oldest photographic society. My own club, Paisley Colour Photographic Society, is a little newer, but will celebrate its 70th anniversary next year.

The club is open to new members, whatever their level of experience. In addition to hosting talks, competitions and a number of outings each year, its greatest strength is a membership that are willing to share advice and experience. We meet at Renfrew Bowling Club on Thursdays between September and March, but the last meeting of each month is held on Zoom. We also have an active programme of outings over the summer.

If you are interested, our contact details are below; there’s little to lose and you may even pick up a couple of good tips about some of the best photographic locations in Renfrewshire.

The team at Mill Magazine would like to extend our thanks to the amazing images submitted by Paisley Colour Photographic Club. This must include a special mention to the author, Eddie Middleton, who recently moved to Northumberland with his wife Helen.

During lockdown, Manchester-born Eddie, who was living in Houston, explored Renfrewshire and found incredible beauty in areas we hadn’t seen before. He has left with great knowledge and a genuine passion for our local area and note the contribution he made to Renfrewshire via his lens.

Follow him on Instagram.

For more information on Paisley Colour Photographic Club, email: en************@gm***.com, or visit their website.

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