Renfrewshire is one of the 32 unitary council areas into which Scotland has been divided since 1996. It lies to the south of the River Clyde and although much of it is urban in character and its main settlement and centre of administration is Paisley, it also extends south and west as far as Lochwinnoch and Bridge of Weir. For accommodation in Renfrewshire and a full list of features, see our Glasgow & Clyde Valley area pages.
Although the 24th largest local authority area in terms of physical size, Renfrewshire is the 9th largest in terms of population. Much of it is served by the M8 motorway, and Glasgow International Airport is located within the area. Modern Renfrewshire is bordered by West Dunbartonshire, City of Glasgow, East Renfrewshire, North Ayrshire and Inverclyde.
Historically, Renfrewshire was one of the 34 traditional counties of Scotland, though the area it covered was much larger than modern Renfrewshire. The traditional area of the county of Renfrewshire also included what are now the separate unitary council areas of Inverclyde, to the north-west, and East Renfrewshire, to the south-east.
The traditional county of Renfrewshire was bordered by Dunbartonshire, Lanarkshire and Ayrshire. A tidying up of the map of counties which reduced their number to 33 in 1890 had no effect on Renfrewshire, which as a result remained a county in its own right until reorganisation in 1975 swept all the counties away in favour of 12 regions.
The regions formed in 1975 were the upper tier of a two tier local authority system, and the area which had formed Renfrewshire became part of the region of Strathclyde. Most regions were divided into a number of district council areas, and Strathclyde was divided into no fewer than 19 of them. These were grouped into six sub-regions, mostly based on the traditional counties which had become part of Strathclyde. Renfrewshire therefore became the Renfrew sub-region of Strathclyde, and was divided into three district council areas: Eastwood, Renfrew and Inverclyde.
Regions and districts disappeared from the scene in a major reorganisation in 1996, being replaced by 32 unitary council areas. The three districts into which Renfrewshire had been transformed in 1975 emerged, with minor boundary changes, as the unitary council areas of East Renfrewshire, Renfrewshire and Inverclyde.