Saturday, 8 October 2016

New Lanark World Heritage Site.

I was staying in my caravan in the Lakes and an early rise and a trip to the Trossachs for the day was intended but once I was on the M6, the reality of a long drive up and then home again lost its appeal somewhat. I then contemplated going to visit the Kelpies and the Falkirk Wheel just outside Glasgow but getting through that place can be fraught especially as I was hitting Glasgow at rush hour so that was also kicked in to touch.

So, recalling years ago when I last visited the Clyde Gorge and when the river was in spate, I decide on cutting my journey short and instead heading for New Lanark to see it in its more gentler state and take some photos of The World Heritage Site as well. I will be doing a separate blog on The Clyde Gorge at a later date. 

New Lanark was founded in 1786 by David Dale, who built cotton mills and housing for the mill workers. Dale built the mills there in a brief partnership with the English inventor and entrepreneur Richard Arkwright to take advantage of the water power provided by the only waterfalls on the River Clyde. Under the ownership of a partnership that included Dale's son-in-law, Robert Owen, a Welsh philanthropist and social reformer, New Lanark became a successful business and an epitome of utopian socialism as well as an early example of a planned settlement and so an important milestone in the historical development of urban planning. 


As the New Lanark mills depended upon water power, a dam was constructed on the Clyde above New Lanark and water was drawn off the river to power the mill machinery. The water first travelled through a tunnel, then through an open channel called the lade. It then went to a number of water wheels in each mill building. It was not until 1929 that the last waterwheel was replaced by a water turbine. Water power is still used in New Lanark. A new water turbine has been installed in Mill Number Three to provide electricity for the tourist areas of the village.

In Owen's time some 2,500 people lived at New Lanark, many from the poorhouses of Glasgow and Edinburgh. Although not the grimmest of mills by far, Owen found the conditions unsatisfactory and resolved to improve the workers' lot. He paid particular attention to the needs of the 500 or so children living in the village (one of the tenement blocks is named Nursery Buildings) and working at the mills, and opened the first infants' school in Britain in 1817, although the previous year he had completed the Institute for the Formation of Character.

The New Lanark mills operated until 1968. After a period of decline, the New Lanark Conservation Trust (NLCT) was founded in 1974 (now known as the New Lanark Trust (NLT)) to prevent demolition of the village. By 2006 most of the buildings have been restored and the village has become a major tourist attraction. It is one of six UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Scotland  and an Anchor Point of ERIH - The European Route of Industrial Heritage.

Part of the site has been converted in to a hotel and private dwellings but the large mill is still open to the general public and a roof garden has been added. Also the old school rooms are open as are various worker's cottages and the house where Robert Owen resided. 

My main reason for coming though was the Gorge walk but I had a good wander around the site before the crowds started to arrive. The only drawback was that the morning weather was a bit dull as you can see from the photos. If I'd have arrived a few hours later the sun would have been out. Just before leaving I popped in the coffee shop for a cappuccino and had a look around the Mill Shop which, unfortunately, sold the usual over-priced rubbish that places like tis always seem to sell. 


The road from Lanark to the Site

New Buildings 1878

Mill lade and Hotel

Mill lade

Mill lade and Hotel

The old water wheel.

Old Mill

Robert Owen's school

Back of the old mill

Mill lade and water houses.

Back of the old mill

Old dye works

View of The Heritage site

Site gardens

Old water turbine behind the mill

Hotel windows.

A journey of two halves.

It was one of those all too frequent occasions when the weather forecast had a big wad of thick cloud and rain hanging over Cumbria whilst ...