Paisley Abbey
Image caption A display beamed on Paisley Abbey offered hope for the future amid the disappointment

Paisley has missed out on the UK City of Culture title – but supporters of the town’s bid have promised “our journey will continue”.

Coventry was named City of Culture 2021 on Thursday evening, beating Paisley, Stoke on Trent, Swansea and Sunderland.

Paisley’s bid director Jean Cameron said the team was “heartbroken” but at the same time “bursting with pride” at what had been achieved.

The award is held very four years, and is currently hosted by Hull.

Paisley was the only Scottish place to make the shortlist for the 2021 title which is awarded by the UK government’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

Hundreds of those involved in the bid gathered at the Paisley headquarters of the University of the West of Scotland to hear the winner announced live on the BBC’s The One Show.

Image caption It was not the news supporters of Paisley’s bid were hoping for

Disappointment was written into their faces as the title went to Coventry – but they promised that the momentum generated by two years of campaigning would not be in vain.

Ms Cameron said: “We are of course heartbroken not to win the title as we know how much the people of the town poured into this – but at the same time those hearts are bursting with pride at what Paisley achieved in the past two years.”

‘Story just beginning’

She congratulated Coventry and thanked the 34,000 people – equivalent to almost half of Paisley’s population – who had added their voices and ideas to the bid.

“We are proud to be the only town to ever make the shortlist and by some distance the smallest place to ever get this far in the competition – few places of Paisley’s size can claim to have given the world so much over the years, and the town punched above its weight once again,” she continued.

“Our bid was based on a belief that culture changes people’s lives, and that by harnessing that power while promoting what sets us apart, Paisley can change its future for the better – and the people of the town made that vision their own over the past two years.

“The incredible energy they created and the new partnerships they have formed will still be channelled in that direction. The next chapter in our story is only just beginning.”

Image copyright Renfrewshire Council
Image caption Paisley weavers became the world’s foremost producers of intricately patterned shawls in the 19th Century

Paisley’s bid was part of a wider plan to transform the town’s future using its heritage and cultural story as the one-time home of the world’s thread industry.

The town gave its name to the globally-recognised design icon, the Paisley Pattern.

Local celebrities including singer Paolo Nutini, Hollywood star Gerard Butler and artist John Byrne had also lent their support to the bid.

Renfrewshire Council leader Iain Nicolson said Paisley was stronger for having taken part in the contest and was already enjoying a rise in visitor numbers.

Image copyright Paisley 2021

He said: “The bid boosted Paisley’s reputation, created new awareness of why we matter to Scotland, the UK, and the world, and raised our profile to unprecedented levels, while giving locals a reason to believe in Paisley again.

“We now have a platform from which to attract the type of footfall, investment and partnership we couldn’t have attracted before – something which is already happening as a result of the bid.”

The town hopes to continue its transformation with a £110m investment in the town centre and venues, as well as benefiting from multi-million pound infrastructure projects linked to the Glasgow Region City Deal.

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