Neilston is a small town of around 5500 residents, in uplands to the southwest of Glasgow.
There is evidence of an established parish in Neilston as far back as 1163 and the poll tax roll for Neilston parish in 1696 provides details of many family and farm names that still exist in the area today.
Due to its supply of hydropower from the River Levern, Neilston, like neighbouring Barrhead, developed factories and cotton mills after the arrival of the Industrial Revolution. Neilston fostered a flourishing textile processing industry. At the peak of business, the River Levern was lined with bleachfields, cotton mills and calico printfields. Crofthead Mill was once the biggest producer of spun cotton in Renfrewshire and tax records show that Kirktonfield Finishing Works where cotton was bleached, dyed and printed had the biggest output in Scotland over a period of several years. Thread from Crofthead, and thus Neilston, was traded across the world.
However, the prosperity brought by the textile industry was not to last. Crofthead Mill was finally closed in 1992 and many people from Neilston had to find work elsewhere. Neilston’s life as a commuter village, well connected by train, began and continues to this day. It is estimated that as much as 70% of Neilston’s working age population leaves the village each day to commute elsewhere.
Neilston’s thriving community is served by local shops, businesses and services and a considerable number of diverse clubs. Some of these clubs and societies date back a long time, reflecting local association with Neilston landscapes, culture and pastimes. Details of many of these can be found on our links page here.
For further information on Neilston’s past, have a look at “Neilston, people and place” document.
OUR PLACE: caring for the past, ambitious for the future
Life in Neilston has changed dramatically over the past 100 years, and will continue to do so. Time was when people hardly left the village; now work, shopping and leisure are very often elsewhere.
The same goes for our place. Once a complex of mills and associated buildings and trades, little of that Neilston remains. Some important buildings remind us of the heritage: the mill, the churches, the Glen Halls; but much has disappeared, even the old street pattern.
But these days ‘placemaking’ is officially the name of the game, with communities proposed as key partners. For many years, NDT has campaigned for quality of place. The award-winning Neilston Charter and the more recent Going Places report are key documents and the Charter Advisory Group continues to press for careful, ‘joined-up’ design of buildings, spaces and streets, making full use of the natural setting of the village.
Some improvements have been made (e.g. working with the Community Council on planting at Kingston Park) and some are being worked on with partners. Watch out for updates and progress on Going Places projects and other NDT activities in NEWS and OUR PROJECTS.