THERE was a scene to behold in the West End of Paisley 100 years ago as more than 20,000 people marked the funeral of a well-known mill owner.
The procession of tearful Buddies stretched from the Thomas Street exit of Ferguslie House to the gateway of Woodside Crematorium as they paid tribute to James Coats.
Most of the shops throughout the town, as well as ‘licensed houses’, were closed for several hours, blinds of dwelling houses were drawn, flags were flying at half mast and the solemnity of the scene was intensified by the tolling of the High Church bell.
Surprisingly, though, the mills remained open, although the majority of the workforce was present to pay their final respects to a much-loved Paisley man.
Four carriages followed behind the main carriage, carrying the coffin, and each was adorned with a beautiful selection of coloured blossom.
Behind these, family members mournfully followed in another two horse-drawn carriages.
While the crowds waited outside, services were held at Thomas Coats Memorial Church and in the adjacent mansion house.
Inside the church, Mr Coats’ love of Egypt shone through. In front of the piano sat a palm tree and, on a table, there were two vases of lovely lilies of the Nile.
Mr Coats had been active in his young life and, as well as running the family mill business with incredible efficiency, he was also a keen sportsman.
He took part in yachting, rowing, swimming, gymnastics and many more pursuits.
Meanwhile, more than 3,000 miles away in Montreal, Canada, a group of exiled Buddies gathered to say goodbye to a colleague as he returned to Paisley to ‘claim’ his bride.
James K Black and his colleagues from the Grand Trunk Railway System sang ‘Scotch’ songs and reminisced about the ‘good old days’.
Mr Black was then presented with a splendid writing desk.
He had been away from his homeland for five-and-a-half years but planned to return to the land of the Maple Leaf some months later with his new wife.
There to see him off were William Pollock, Robert Stewart, James Pinkerton, John Don, Hugh Graham, Alex Glencross and Hugh Hair.
Elsewhere, in the world of sport, St Mirren were lying second bottom of the 18-team league, with just Queen’s Park below them.
They had managed a narrow 2-1 win over mid-table Airdrie, which hoisted them above the Spiders.
Very few Buddies made the trip to Lanarkshire, although Airdrie still had to fork out the £50 league guarantee to Saints.
The win at Broomfield gave the Buddies renewed hope intheir fight to avoid the qualifying cup, which was contested between the bottom four.
The victorious Saints team against Airdrie was: Duncan, Reid, White, McDonald, Logan, Milne, Callaghan, Baird, Magner, Kyle and Robertson.
Meanwhile, Abercorn and St Mirren ‘A’ (reserves) met at Ralston in the Victory Cup and played out a largely entertaining draw.
And Johnstone progressed to the fifth round of the Consolation Cup, thanks to a 2-1 win over Dumbarton Harp.
If you want to find out more about Paisley’s past, visit the Local History department at Paisley Central Library, where you will find newspapers dating as far back as 1824, as well as historical maps, trades directories, postcards and lots more.
Call 0141 887 3672 for further details.