Paisley will forever be synonymous with tadpoles. Not real tadpoles, of course, but the shapes who synchronise their swimming to form the Paisley Pattern.

This unmistakable textile design is found on fabrics all over the world, decorating everything from business ties to surfing shorts.

The history of this town, however, offers a more colourful and richer tapestry than even its signature emblem might suggest . . . and for all of its past, present and future, a river runs through it.

So let’s start with the White Cart River and at the very beginning.

Although local traditions point to signs of early fortifications on the hills of Oakshaw and Castlehead, many historians believe the origins of Paisley proper lie with an Irish monk in the Sixth Century.

And it is on the banks of the White Cart we find our missionary, where he has rather euphemistically fallen “asleep in the Lord”.

Legend says a church was built to the memory of the eternally somnolent St Mirin and from such humble foundations a priory would be established, which in turn would be elevated to the celestial status of abbey.

Inevitably, as is the custom with munificent religious centres – the maxim being ‘build it and they shall come’ – people were soon gathering from near and far around the holy portals, thatched houses began popping up and, gradually, a permanent settlement was formed.

It was under the auspices of James II that the surrounding lands became a single regality and this led to a blossoming of markets, allowing trade to prosper. Finally, in 1488 the town’s status was raised by James IV to Burgh of Barony.

Let us now leap forward to the Eighteenth Century and, rather than that sprawling farming community, we find instead a centralised town whose mainstay was the art of weaving.

Paisley had become a city of handloom weavers, who enjoyed a healthy trade with Glasgow, Edinburgh and beyond. All educated, they were well versed not only in the politicking of the day but also in higher-minded pursuits such as poetry.

Of Paisley’s weaver poets – there were almost 300 – Robert Tannahill is best known; among his many works is Will You Go Lassie Go, also known as Wild Mountain Thyme.

If the notion of weaver bards seems romantic, the Industrial Revolution made poets into entrepreneurs and Paisley into a powerhouse.

It was not all rosy, however. Labour disputes and a depression in the textile industry, combined with the realities of mechanisation, were all harbingers of doom.

Soon the real power had passed to the mill owners – and by the 1930s there were almost 30,00 people working in the Anchor and Ferguslie mills of J & P Coats Ltd alone.

Paisley also gained fame for its prowess in engineering. Shipbuilding, in particular, thrived, with the town’s dredgers in demand in ports all over the world.

However, it is the textiles industry that gave Paisley its renowned Victorian industrial architecture, such as the grand A-listed Anchor Mills, built in 1886 and now converted into apartments.

In the 1950s, the mills began producing synthetic threads – alas cheap imports proved too competitive and the industry ran out of steam in the early Nineties.

Today’s Paisley is anything but threadbare, however.

The blending and bottling of whisky has reintroduced a traditional industry, while Paisley holds power as the administrative HQ of Renfrewshire Council. Currently, there is a strong focus in investing in infrastructure, such as the £1.8m modernisation of the town centre’s bus infrastructure.

In fact, there is continual investment by the public sector in the town centre where new businesses are returning and thriving.

Iconic landmarks, such as the Arnotts building, are being transformed in a series of regeneration projects.

Other plans, as part of the Paisley Heritage Asset Strategy and multi-million pound City Deal, include the refurbishment of Paisley Museum to become a national museum of textile and costume and the creation of a fashion and design centre.

The opening of InCube in Paisley’s High Street, meanwhile, provides a ‘business Incubator’ where new firms can start or small businesses grow.

Renfrewshire Council itself has vowed to put the town on the map as a cultural and tourist destination – above all, there is a determination to offer the best facilities of any UK university town and already Paisley can boast the largest campus of the University of the West of Scotland as well as the local campus of West College Scotland.

From sleepy resting place of St Mirin to bustling home of around 76,000, Paisley has become one of Scotland’s biggest and most vibrant towns.

We hope in this special Scotland’s Towns supplement you will discover even more about the resurgent and positive Paisley of today.