Thomas Shanks Park, Johnstone
|Paisley and Renfrewshire South|
Johnstone was largely a planned community which grew up around the house of Easter Cochrane, later known as Johnstone Castle, seat of the Houston or Houstoun family who gained their name from the nearby village of Houston. In 1782, the Laird, George Houstoun, commissioned designs for a series of regular residential streets which now form the town centre.
At this early stage of development, the town’s population including the local estate and rural hinterland was around 1,500.  Two mirroring civic squares were also constructed in the town: Houstoun Square and Ludovic Square, and by 1794 the town had gained its current parish church. Johnstone was raised to the status of a police burgh with significant local powers.
Industrial development brought both prosperity and poverty to the community. Coal mining took place at Johnstone, although its main industry was related to the thread and cotton industries, the mills powered by the Black Cart Water which runs to the north of Johnstone. As the community expanded, slum conditions formed in part of the town: the population by 1831 had increased to a sizeable 5,600.  This was addressed in the 1930s by a significant expansion of the size of Johnstone to include a number of purpose-built residential estates.
Much of Johnstone’s feudal heritage has disappeared. With the death of the last Laird in 1931, Johnstone Castle found some other uses before falling into disrepair and being largely demolished.