A CAMPAIGN has been launched in a bid to keep Paisley’s iconic Russell Institute in the heart of the community.
The former health clinic, which dominates the corner of New Street and Causeyside Street, has been put up for sale by NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde because it doesn’t meet modern standards.
Now the Paisley Development Trust (PDT) hopes the historic building can be used as a centre where artists, charities and creative groups can rent facilities, set up workshops and exhibit their work.
There are fears that the Russell Institute will be targeted by vandals or metal thieves, so the PDT is working behind the scenes to bring it into community ownership.
The group has launched a Facebook site to highlight their efforts and a public consultation – dubbed ‘What’s Next For The Russell Institute?’ – will help to gauge opinion.
Paisley and Renfrewshire South MP Douglas Alexander, who is backing the PDT’s campaign, said: “There’s a long way to go but I welcome their efforts, both to save the building and to consult with local people about its future.”
Miss Agnes Russell donated the Russell Institute to her home town of Paisley as a memorial to her two bachelor brothers, Robert and Thomas, who died in 1913 and 1920 respectively.
The outside of the eye-catching building features a large bronze figure of a mother with children, flanked by two copper shields – one of which is the Paisley Coat of Arms and the other being the serpent and staff symbol of Aesculapius, god of medicine.
It also features the motto ‘A Deo Salus’, which translates as ‘Health comes from God.’
Piero Pieraccini, chair of the PDT, said the Russell Institute is a “national treasure.”
He added: “The consultation is taking place online in the hope that it can reach more people that way.
“The building would serve a lot of our purposes for an arts and culture hub. It was donated to the people of Paisley and we would use it for the people of Paisley.
“We would like to take the building on but need to know if we can afford it, so we will need to have an in-depth feasibility study carried out.”
To get a copy of the consultation document, call Mr Alexander’s constituency office on 0141 561 0333 or e-mail the PDT at paisley_ email@example.com
You can also find out more on the Facebook page at www.facebook. com/pages/Russell-Institute/142923 165719602.
It is estimated that the feasibility study being planned by the PDT will cost in the region of £35,000 and anyone who would like to make a donation towards these costs can do so via the contact details above.