“The Ferguslie Thread Works, operated by J&P Coats, were the largest mills in the town and employed many tens of thousands during their lifetime between 1826 and 1984,” Cameron explains. “I was born in the 1990s and had only seen some grainy images of these vast mills that touched the lives of almost every single person in the town. For a long time, I had wanted to do historical reconstructions of old Paisley, to get a better sense of the town as it was before mass demolition from the 1960s onwards.”
Cameron’s digital reconstruction of the Ferguslie Mills required a lot of groundwork. He painstakingly created it using hundreds of photographs, maps, drawings, and photogrammetry scans, and a number of different software packages. As a first step, Cameron contacted a local charity, The Paisley People’s Archive, who helped him to get all the reference materials he needed to create a faithful rendering of the mills, giving him access to a huge collection of images, as well as details on the buildings on the site.
The data from the charity proved invaluable; Cameron was able to use it to do further research to make the visualization as accurate as possible: “There were many thousands of images of the general views of the buildings, but very few of carvings, stonework, and such. I spent a lot of time researching the architects and architectural style to represent these details,” he says.