It was more than a club – it was a Paisley institution…

It was more than a club – it was a Paisley institution…

“The Cotton Club”

The very name evokes memories of one of the greatest periods in Paisley pubbing and clubbing history.

We can see you smiling now as the memories start flooding back!!!

Yeah – we all know there was one in Harlem NYC & another pretender to the throne in Glasgow… but, for Paisley buddies of a certain vintage, there was only one “The Cotton Club”, and it sat right at the top of Loundsdale Road.

NNE recently paid a visit to The Paisley Heritage centre (which for those who don’t know that’s right next to Paisley Library in the high street) to research this iconic Paisley venue…

From School Days to Halcyon Days…

Built in 1887, The building that would later house the legendary nightclub was originally the former half time school at Ferguslie thread works, opened by Peter Coats Junior on the 10th June 1887.

The school functioned under the patronage of J&P Coats until 1904. That year, full time education became compulsory for all Scottish Children and the administration of the school fell to the Paisley School Board.

In 1921, the building, became the east dining hall for the clerical workers of Ferguslie mill – then, from 1969 to 1973, it was temporarily used by the mills fire prevention team (and for those of you who know how this story ends – this is extremely ironic!!!)

From 1977 – 1985 it was the Ciba Geigy social club, playing host to over 400 members, until building dilapidation (and a £100,000 upgrade bill), knocked that incarnation on the head.

Enter Paisley Businessman – Mr James Laverty, and one of Paisley’s most iconic nightlife spots was born….

“The Cotton Club, Paisley” was registered on the 13th March, 1985. The rest, as they say, is history.

Ah the 80s…

On the back of his already successful “La Verte Wine Bar” (known just simply as The Wine Bar to locals), his ambitious Cotton Club complex, and La Vie En Rose Resturant, propelled Mr Laverty to the top of the Paisley nightlife food chain.

Most definitely a man of vision, Mr Laverty successfully lobbied the Renfrewshire council licence board and was awarded the first ever 4am licence (which he secured for the club from Thursdays to Sundays).

The Cotton Club complex was literally jumping 7 days a week. This place packed more entertainment into a month, than some places do in a lifetime.

In one advert we caught site of in the Paisley Daily Express during our research, the snapshot of events in one month left us breathless!!

  • There was the “Kitten Klub 88” – which hosted a fashion show from Journey’s (those and such as those will remember this iconic fashion clothing store that used to reside in Causeyside Street)
  • Every Friday & Saturday there was “Dance to the Beat”, with resident DJ’s Michael MacCrimmon and Paul “Daddy” Scott.
  • There was “Mudlark & Disco”, which consisted of four girls mudfighting!!! (NNE are currently looking at bringing this one back in particular 😉 )
  • There was a Hairdressing show, brought to the public by top Paisley salon “Headquarters”
  • There was a Radio 1 DJ making an appearance (although it doesn’t name who?)
  • There was the “Executive Club” – which had some girl/boy dance act called DANZA playing
  • There was a Caribbean steel band playing, a boy band called “Torso” and a seventies band called “The Glitter Band & The Rubettes”
  • There was a comedy show with “Duggie Small”
  • And they had a Thursday night office party , with personal appearances from Miss Denmark, Miss Norway, Miss Sweden & Miss Iceland (funnily enough this one was particularly busy with St Mirren Players also 🙂 )
  • And, just for good measure, there was a special video premier showing of Nightmare on Elm Street

We were exhausted just reading that!!!!

From 1985 to the early 90s, The Cotton Club was a staple of Paisley nightlife and really was ahead of its time.

Sadly, nothing lasts forever, and, after a fire ripped through the building and razed it to the ground,  The Cotton Club never recovered and when brewery giants, Carlsberg Tetley,  called in the receivers, Mr Laverty had no choice but to put the keys back through the old school letterbox as the club hit irreversible financial difficulties.

The club then passed hands to up and coming Paisley pub and club impresario, a certain Mr David Davidson. (There will be more about Mr Davidsons Paisley pubs and clubs in our upcoming blogs).

But sadly, Mr Laverty’s “The Cotton Club”, had served it’s last cocktail,  and an icon of Paisleys nightlife had passed into the history books and annuls of Paisley pub and club folklore.

There would be several more incarnations through the mid to late 1990s, from Melrose Place, to club 30 UK, and then finally to The Institute, but most of the original “The Cotton Club” patrons would argue vigorously that the old place was never the same again….

Today, the building lies destitute, sitting lonely and without purpose. Several attempts to breathe life into the old place have come and gone and failed.

However, for those who experienced first hand the ambience & atmosphere of this truly iconic Paisley nightclub complex, the memories burn bright, even if the lights went out over quarter of a century ago…

Mr Laverty & The Cotton Club, we salute you.