Lanark is a village on the River Clyde, approximately 1.4 miles
(2.2 kilometres) from Lanark, in Lanarkshire, and some 25 miles
(40 km) southeast of Glasgow, Scotland. It 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 early example of a planned settlement and
so an important milestone in the historical development of urban
Lanark mills operated until 1968. After a period of decline,
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.
2 Living conditions
4 Historic maps
6 Visiting New Lanark
8 See also
10 External links
Lanark cotton mills were founded in 1786 by
David Dale in a
brief partnership with Richard Arkwright. Dale was one of the
self-made "Burgher Gentry" of
Glasgow who, like most of this gentry,
had a summer retreat, an estate at Rosebank, Cambuslang, not far from
the Falls of Clyde, which have been painted by
J. M. W. Turner
J. M. W. Turner and
many other artists. The mills used the recently developed
water-powered cotton spinning machinery invented by Richard Arkwright.
Dale sold the mills, lands and village in the early 19th century for
£60,000, payable over 20 years, to a partnership that included his
son-in-law Robert Owen. Owen, who became mill manager in 1800, was an
industrialist who carried on his father-in-law's philanthropic
approach to industrial working and who subsequently became an
influential social reformer. New Lanark, with its social and welfare
programmes, epitomised his
Utopian socialism (see also Owenism).
The town and mills are important historically through their connection
with Owen's ideas, but also because of their role in the developing
industrial revolution in the UK and their place in the history of
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
In Owen's time some 2,500 people lived at New Lanark, many from the
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
The mills thrived commercially, but Owen's partners were unhappy at
the extra expense incurred by his welfare programmes. Unwilling to
allow the mills to revert to the old ways of operating, Owen bought
out his partners. In 1813 the Board forced an auction, hoping to
obtain the town and mills at a low price but Owen and a new board
(including the economist Jeremy Bentham) that was sympathetic to his
reforming ideas won out.
Lanark became celebrated throughout Europe, with many statesmen,
reformers and royalty visiting the mills. They were astonished to find
a clean, healthy industrial environment with a content, vibrant
workforce and a prosperous, viable business venture all rolled into
one. Owen's philosophy was contrary to contemporary thinking, but he
was able to demonstrate that it was not necessary for an industrial
enterprise to treat its workers badly to be profitable. Owen was able
to show visitors the village's excellent housing and amenities, and
the accounts showing the profitability of the mills.
As well as the mills' connections with reform, socialism and welfare,
they are also representative of the
Industrial Revolution that
occurred in Britain in the 18th and 19th centuries and which
fundamentally altered the shape of the world. The planning of
employment in the mills alongside housing for the workers and services
such as a school also makes the settlement iconic in the development
of urban planning in the UK.
In 1825, control of New
Lanark passed to the Walker family when Owen
left Britain to start settlement of New Harmony in the US. The Walkers
managed the village until 1881, when it was sold to Birkmyre and
Sommerville and the Gourock Ropeworks (although they tried
unsuccessfully to sell the mills and the town in 1851). They and
their successor companies remained in control until the mills closed
The town and the industrial activity had been in decline before then,
but after the mills closed migration away from the village
accelerated, and the buildings began to deteriorate. The top two
floors of Mill Number 1 were removed in 1945 but the building has
since been restored and is now the New
Lanark Mill Hotel. In 1963 the
Lanark Association (NLA) was formed as a housing association and
commenced the restoration of
Caithness Row and Nursery Buildings. In
1970 the mills, other industrial buildings and the houses used by Dale
and Owen were sold to Metal Extractions Limited, a scrap metal
company. In 1974 the NLCT (now the NLT) was founded to prevent
demolition of the village. A compulsory purchase order was used in
1983 to recover the mills and other buildings from Metal Extractions
after a repairs notice had been served in 1979. This was because of
the state of repair of the buildings despite their listing as historic
buildings that required their legal preservation in 1971. They are
now controlled by the NLT, either directly through the Trust or
through wholly owned companies (New
Lanark Trading Ltd, New Lanark
Hotel Ltd and New
Lanark Homes). By 2005 most of the buildings had
been restored and the village has become a major tourist attraction.
In the mid 19th century, an entire family would have been housed in a
single room. Some sense of such living conditions can be obtained by
David Livingstone Centre
David Livingstone Centre at Blantyre. David Dale, who
founded New Lanark, was also involved in the mills at Blantyre. Only
one tenement row has survived in Blantyre, and that building is now a
museum. This is mostly devoted to David Livingstone, who was born
there in 1813, but it includes a re-creation of the single~room living
conditions of the time at New Lanark, featuring trundle beds for
children such as Livingstone would have used. The David Livingstone
Centre is 18 miles by road from New Lanark, between
The living conditions in the village gradually improved, and by the
early 20th century families would have had the use of several rooms.
It was not until 1933 that the houses had interior cold water taps for
sinks and the communal outside toilets were replaced by inside
From 1938 the village proprietors provided free electricity to all the
homes in New Lanark, but only enough power was available for one dim
bulb in each room. The power was switched off at 10 pm Sunday-Friday,
11 pm Saturday. In 1955 New
Lanark was connected to the National
Dereliction in New
Lanark in 1983.
It has been estimated that over 400,000 people visit the village each
year. The importance of New
Lanark has been recognised by
one of Scotland's six World Heritage Sites, the others being Edinburgh
Old and New Towns, Heart of Neolithic Orkney, St Kilda, the Antonine
Wall and the Forth Bridge. The mills and town were listed in 2001
after an unsuccessful application for World Heritage listing in
About 200 people live in New Lanark. Of the residential buildings,
only Mantilla Row and Double Row have not been restored. Some of the
restoration work was undertaken by the NLA and the NLCT. Braxfield Row
and most of Long Row were restored by private individuals who bought
the houses as derelict shells and restored them as private houses. In
addition to the 20 owner-occupied properties in the village there are
45 rented properties let by the NLA, which is a registered housing
association. The NLA also owns other buildings in the village. It has
been criticised for its failure to restore Double Row and rebuild
In 2009 the NLA was wound up as being financially and administratively
unviable, and responsibility for the village's tenanted properties
passed to the NLCT. The same year,
Clydesdale Bank released a new
series of Scottish banknotes, of which the 20-pound note features New
Lanark on its reverse.
Considerable attention has been given to maintaining the historical
authenticity of the village. No television aerials or satellite dishes
are allowed in the village, and services such as telephone, television
and electricity are delivered though buried cables. To provide a
consistent appearance all external woodwork is painted white, and
doors and windows follow a consistent design. Householders used to be
banned from owning dogs, but this rule is no longer enforced.
Some features introduced by the NLT, such as commercial signage and a
glass bridge connecting the Engine House and Mill Number Three, have
been criticised. The retention of a 1924-pattern red telephone box in
the village square has also been seen as inappropriate.
The mills, the hotel and most of the non-residential buildings in the
village are owned and operated by the NLT through wholly owned
A 1911 Ordnance Survey map is available from the National Library of
Scotland is available  and 
Rosedale Street with Long Row to left, Double Row to near right and
Wee Row to middle right
Robert Owen's house
Braxfield Row, built c1790 – a tenement block converted to ten
owner-occupied houses, nine four-storey and one five-storey.
Long Row, built c1790 - a tenement block converted to 14 three-storey
houses. Ten are owner occupied, four are tenanted.
Double Row, built c1795 – a five-storey tenement block, containing
back-to-back apartments. The side facing the river was also known as
Water Row. The row is currently undergoing renovation.
Mantilla Row, built c1795 – a tenement block demolished when it
became structurally unsafe. New foundations and a retaining wall have
been laid, but the row has not been rebuilt.
Wee Row, built c1795 – a tenement block converted to a youth hostel
in 1994, operated by the Scottish Youth Hostels Association.
New Buildings, built 1798 – a four-storey building containing the
bell tower. The bell, which once summoned the workers to the mills, is
now sounded at midnight on the last day of the year. The building
contains a museum and tenanted flats.
Nursery Buildings, built 1809 – a three-storey building that has
been converted to tenanted flats. Once used to house the orphan
children who worked in the mills.
Caithness Row, built 1792 – a three-storey tenement block that has
been converted to tenanted flats.
Caithness is a district in the
Scottish Highlands and the row was supposedly named after a group of
Highlanders recruited to work in the mills.
Village Church, built 1898 – now used for social purposes and named
the Community Hall. Has since fallen into disrepair and has become
Mill Number One, built 1789 – originally built in 1785 and started
spinning in March 1786. It burnt down on 9 October 1788 and was
rebuilt in 1789. In 1802 the mill had three waterwheels driving 6556
spindles. In 1811 558 people, 408 of them female, worked in the mill.
In 1945 it had its top two floors removed. The building became
derelict and was renovated and rebuilt as the New
Lanark Mill Hotel.
The hotel opened in 1998.
Waterhouses, built c1799-1818 – a row of one- and two-storey
buildings next to Mill Number One, converted into holiday flats.
Mill Number Two, built 1788 - in 1811 it had three waterwheels and
employed 486 people, 283 of them women. It was widened in 1884-5 to
accommodate ring frames. The extension is the only brick faced
building in the village. It is now used for tourist purposes.
Mill Number Three, built 1790-92 - known as 'the jeanies house' and
contained a large number of water powered jennies. It burned down in
1819 and was rebuilt circa 1826-33. In 1811 it employed 398 people,
286 of them women. It is now used for tourist purposes. It also
contains a water turbine that generates electricity for parts of the
Mill Number Four, built circa 1791-3 - initially used as a storeroom
and workshop. It also housed '275 children who have no parents'
(Donnachie and G. Hewitt). It was destroyed by fire in 1883 and has
not been rebuilt. In 1990 a waterwheel was brought from Hole Mill
Farm, Fife, and installed on the site of the mill.
Institute for the Formation of Character, built 1816 – a four-storey
building that is now used for tourism and business purposes.
Engine House, built 1881 – attached to the Institute for the
Formation of Character and contains a restored steam engine.
School, built 1817 – a three-storey building that is now a museum.
It housed the first school for working-class children in Scotland.
Mechanics Workshop, built 1809 – a three-storey building that once
housed the craftsmen who built and maintained the mill machinery.
Dyeworks, built ? – originally a brass and iron foundry with
its own waterwheel. It now contains shops and a visitor centre.
Gasworks with octagonal chimney, built by 1851 - used as a store.
Owens House, built 1790 – used as a museum.
Dales House, built 1790 – used as business premises.
Mill Lade - dug to carry water from the
River Clyde to power the mill
Graveyard - on the hill above New Lanark, between the village and the
visitors' car park. Many of the first villagers are buried there.
1 & 2 New
Lanark Road - two opposing two-storey gatehouses some
distance from the village. These marked the entrance to New Lanark.
They are now in private ownership.
Visiting New Lanark
Scottish Wildlife Trust
Scottish Wildlife Trust visitor centre for the Falls of Clyde
There is a large free car park on the outskirts of the village. Only
disabled visitors may park in the village. The walk from the car park
down to the mill village provides a worthwhile panoramic view. Bus
service 135 from Lanark, which has a railway station with
half-hourly services from Glasgow.
The village has a three-star hotel, the New
Lanark Mill Hotel, owned
and operated by the New
Lanark Conservation Trust; holiday flats, the
Waterhouses, let by the hotel; and a youth hostel operated by the
Scottish Youth Hostels Association. There are restaurants and shops in
the village, and a visitors' centre.
Clyde walkway long distance footpath passes through the
village and the Scottish Wildlife Trust's visitor centre for the
Falls of Clyde Nature reserve is based in a group of mill buildings.
Wee Row youth hostel.
The Counting House.
Graveyard on a hill above the village.
Grave of an early villager.
The waterwheel at the site of the old Mill Number Four.
Detail of the waterwheel at the site of old Mill Number Four.
Bonnington pavilion, Falls of Clyde
^ Bell, Colin and Rose (1972) City Fathers: The Early History of Town
Planning in Britain. Penguin, Harmondsworth.
^ "21 World Heritage Sites you have probably never heard of". Daily
^ Donnachie, Ian (2000) Robert Owen: Owen of New
Lanark and New
Harmony, Tuckwell Press, East Linton
^ a b c
World Heritage Committee
World Heritage Committee Nomination Documentation
(2001) 'New Lanark'.
File 429rev.pdf, 16 December 2001. Available at
^ Bell and Bell (1972) City Fathers
^ Bell and Bell (1972) City Fathers
^ a b c Donnachie, Ian and Hewitt, George (1993) Historic New Lanark:
The Dale and Owen Industrial Community since 1785, Edinburgh
University Press, Edinburgh
Scotland (n.d.) Listing of historical buildings. Available
Lanark Trust". New
Lanark World Heritage Site.
^  New
Lanark Key Themes about New
Lanark for Teachers
Lanark Trust (n.d.) The Story of New Lanark, New
^ New Lanark, Community Hall (former New
Lanark Church) with
Gatepiers, Railings and Boundary Walls - New
Lanark - South
Scotland British Listed Buildings
^ Clyde Walkway Walking Things To Do
Historic New Lanark, I. Donnachie and G. Hewitt.
Press, 1993. ISBN 0-7486-0420-0.
Historical Tours in the Clyde Valley. Published by the Clyde Valley
Tourist Association and the
Lanark & District Archaeological
Association. Printed by Robert MacLehose and Company Limited, Renfrew,
David Dale: A Life. Stenlake Publishing Ltd. D.J. MacLaren, 2015
Robert Owen and the story of New Lanark. Moubray House
Press, Edinburgh, Scotland. 1986. ISBN 0-948473-02-9.
World Heritage Site
World Heritage Site Management Plan 2003-2008.
City Fathers: The early history of town planning in Britain, C. Bell
and R. Bell, Penguin, Harmondsworth
Robert Owen's Experiment at New Lanark. From Paternalism to Socialism,
O. Siméon. Palgrave Macmillan, 2017.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to New Lanark.
Wikivoyage has a travel guide for New Lanark.
Lanark World Heritage site - official site
Photographs of New Lanark
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