An "architectural marvel", it is sometimes described as the "exclamation mark" on Paisley's skyline.

But the Thomas Coats Memorial Church hosted its last church ceremony in August 2018 and has since lain empty.

Now a group local campaigners are aiming to make "Coats Memorial" a venue to rival similar conversions in Edinburgh and Glasgow, while preserving the history of the spectacular building.

A steering group is aiming to raise £1.5m in 100 days for its preservation and return to use as a multi-purpose venue hosting theatre, opera, ballet, pantomimes and rock and folk music, while also hosting weddings and other functions.

Coats Memorial Baptist Church was built in 1885 and is named for Thomas Coats, who had died two years earlier. The philanthropist and founder of J&P Coats, the cotton thread and zip and fastener manufacturing firm which is intrinsically linked with the history of the town, Coats was also a devout Baptist.

Built in the Gothic revival style, it

Thomas Coats (1809-1883) co-founder of the world-famous J.&P Coats company was a philanthropist and devout member of the Baptist Church. He was committed to the wellbeing of his town, involved in the restoration of Paisley Abbey, and funding projects such as the construction of the Coats Observatory and Paisley Fountain Gardens. After his death in 1883 his close family funded the construction of a Baptist church in his memory.[3]


One of Scotland’s most iconic structures could be saved from ruin – with an expert team of place makers gearing up to raise £1.5million for its preservation.

Coats Memorial, widely recognised as the exclamation mark of Paisley’s skyline, is looking for a new purpose since holding its last church ceremony in August 2018. Now with the support of a new Steering Group it is hoped it will once again become a cherished place where people will enjoy life’s biggest celebrations.

Led by philanthropist, businessman and Paisley native Ian Henderson, the revival of Coats Memorial could see the building compete with the likes of Glasgow’s Oran Mor and Edinburgh’s Mansfield Traquair as a multi-purpose venue. But charitable support from communities in Scotland and the rest of the world will be crucial to its future success.

Ian Henderson, Coats Memorial Steering Group, said: “Coats Memorial is an architectural marvel. As proud local people, the team holds a firm belief that if we do not do everything in our power to save this magnificent building then we have failed our ancestors and future generations who have and will go on to create wonderful memories here.

“If we achieve what we have set out to do in the New Year, Coats Memorial will be the exclamation mark in grand gatherings. We have a host of events planned as part of our campaign to safeguard the building, and look forward to announcing those in due course.

I would urge anyone who values their heritage and community values to please get behind this cause. We have the potential to do something really spectacular here, but we need the support of the community.”

Built in 1885 by Hippolyte Jean Blanc in the Gothic Revival period, Thomas Coats Memorial Church has a capacity of 1,000. Its features include a vaulted ceiling, mosaics, stencilled decoration, carved marble and alabaster. Above the chancel, the ceiling is adorned with paintings of angels and has an incredibly rare 3,040 pipe organ designed by William Hill & Sons. This stunning instrument has never been modified.

Sheenagh Gray, Chartered Architect of Framed Estates Limited said: “We are working closely with Historic Environment Scotland and local authorities and are overseeing the plans to ensure that we create a venue that pays homage to Coats Memorial’s heritage but also exceeds the expectation people have in iconic multi-purpose entertainment venues.”

The Coats Memorial Steering Group intends to launch its fundraising campaign, “100 days to save Coats Memorial” on 1 February.


Issued on behalf of Coats Memorial Steering Group by Weber Shandwick. For further media information contact: Pamela McDade: 0141 343 3255 / 07890 615 919 /

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About Coats Memorial

The former church was commissioned by the family of Thomas Coats of Ferguslie and is one of the most dominant landmarks in Paisley.

• The Coats family ran the world leading Ferguslie thread works J and P Coats in the 1830s

• Thomas Coats and his wife brought up their 11 children in Ferguslie House

• He died in 1883 and his public funeral saw a congregation of 2,000 people follow his coffin

• The first congregation in the Memorial Church took place in 1894

• The Coats family supported the Baptist Church

• The last congregation took place in October 2018, the result of a diminishing congregation and the cost of upkeep.