Kilnside House
Barshaw House

Barshaw House - click for big version

Photograph by Thomas Annan of Glasgow (1829-1887)

Barshaw House (now flats) is situated at the back of Barshaw Park in the east end of Paisley. It was built in the early 1800s by Robert Smith, and later reconstructed by wealthy Paisley businessman James Arthur. The Glasgow University Arthur Bursary was instituted in 1892 by Jane Arthur of Barshaw (1827-1907), a prominent campaigner for women's suffrage. In 1873 she became the first woman to stand for and be elected to a school board when she was chosen to serve on the Paisley board. Their son was Sir Matthew Arthur, Lord Glenarthur (1852-1928).

Barshaw House - click for big version

The estate was sold to Paisley Town Council in 1911, with the park officially opening the following year.

On 30 November 1914, the Paisley Daily Express reported:


At (the) last fortnightly meeting of the Committee held in the Council Chambers - with Mr John McCallum in the chair - the secretary reported that the 1,000 voted by the Committee at its last meeting had been sent to the Commission for Relief in Belgium through the Belgian Consul in Glasgow and read a letter from the Belgian Consul-General in London thanking the generous donors of Paisley.

The mansion house became an infirmary, and in1917 a military hospital for wounded soldiers.

Paisley Town Council then opened Barshaw Hospital as a maternity and child welfare unit in 1921 (giving birth to the well known Paisley phrase "were you born in a park ?"). It was transferred to the National Health Service in 1948 as Barshaw Maternity Hospital and was under the Board of Management for Paisley and District Hospitals until 1974 when it was placed in the Renfrew District of Argyll and Clyde Health Board.

A mother's momentos from a birth at Barshaw

Barshaw House - click for big version

It closed as a maternity hospital in 1959 and reopened as a geriatric hospital in 1961.


Thomas Glen Arthur married Elizabeth Winthrop Coats, daughter of Sir James Coats, 1st Bt. and Sarah Ann Auchincloss, on 26 September 1888. He died on 2 February 1907. Thomas Glen Arthur lived at Barshaw, Renfrewshire, Scotland.

Barshaw House following conversion

Barshaw House Ossian

Millar A H (1889) The castles and mansions of Renfrewshire and Buteshire

The mansion of Barshaw stands about a mile and a-half to the east of Paisley, and its commanding tower attracts the attention of the tourist who travels from Glasgow by rail in that direction. The oldest portion of the building was erected early in the present century by the then proprietor, Mr. Robert Smith; but after it was acquired by the late Mr. James Arthur, he made extensive additions to it, and entirely re-constructed the interior. The alterations then made have had the effect of transforming what was a plain and commodious country residence into a magnificent mansion-house. One of the main features of the new building is the large conservatory.

James Arthur of Barshaw, by whom these alterations were made, merits some notice as one of the most successful Glasgow merchants of modern times. He was born at Paisley in 1819), and entered into business there at an early age. His first venture having been eminently successful, he soon removed to Glasgow, where he found a much wider field for the exercise of his mercantile ability than was afforded by his native town. About forty years ago he entered into partnership with the late Mr. Hugh Fraser, and founded a drapery establishment- at the corner of Buchanan Street and Argyll Street, Glasgow, under the designation of Arthur & Fraser. The business was rapidly extended and additional accommodation provided, until the warehouse in Argyll Street, which had once been amply sufficient for its requirements, had developed into an extensive block of buildings. The firm still exists in a flourishing condition, under the style of Fraser, Sons & Co.; but Mr. Arthur's connection with the firm ceased many years ago.

In 1860 he founded the wholesale drapery business of Arthur & Company, which has since become one of the largest concerns of the kind in the kingdom. Its development was principally accomplished through the untiring energy, activity, and business capacity of Mr. Arthur; and his enterprising spirit led him to open up new commercial fields in various parts of the world. Nor were his efforts confined to one department of commercial enterprise: he was one of the founders of Young's Paraffin Company, and was deeply interested in the " Loch Line " of ships trading to Australia, and in the famous " Clan Line " of steamers. He was, for many years, a prominent Member of the Glasgow Chamber of Commerce, and was deeply interested in the progress of that city. Mr. Arthur was actively engaged in business up till the time of his death, which took place on 17th June, 1885. The estate is now in the possession of his widow, Mrs. Jane Arthur.