New Lanark
Jim Arnold   May 07.2016


The story of New Lanark until Robert Owen's departure in 1824 can be found on the Early History & Robert Owen page. After his departure, Owen's role in New Lanark was taken over by Charles and Henry Walker, sons of one of Owen's Quaker partners, John Walker. For the following 50 years they ran the mills and the village much as Owen would have done.

Reason to Be Selected

New Lanark is a small 18th- century village set in a sublime Scottish landscape where the philanthropist and Utopian idealist Robert Owen moulded a model industrial community in the early 19th century. The imposing cotton mill buildings, the spacious and well-designed workers' housing, and the dignified educational institute and school still testify to Owen's humanism.


In 1881 New Lanark was sold to Henry Birkmyre of the Gourock Ropemaking Company. He and his successors understood why New Lanark had been so successful and sought to maintain the social patterns that underpinned that success.They did, however, diversify the activity at New Lanark. As well as spinning cotton as before, the cotton was now also woven on site. Products to emerge included deck chair covers, canvas for a wide range of military uses, and even the material for the big top of Bertram Mills Circus. Mill workers were given concessionary tickets when the circus came to Lanark.Ropes and fishing nets were also now produced at New Lanark, and workers and their families were brought in from Ireland and the Isle of Man to add their skills, and cultures, to the mix already in the village. The mills continued to depend on the power of the River Clyde, though water wheels were finally replaced by water turbines, the last working until 1929. Auxiliary steam power was also introduced from the 1880s.Over the years, the density of the population living in New Lanark diminished from its height in the mid 1800s.

 In 1861 one single-room dwelling in New Buildings was home to a couple, their four children, a sister-in-law and two lodgers.Later it was normal for homes to comprise several rooms. In 1933 houses were fitted with kitchen sinks and a cold water tap, and in the same year the old communal outside toilets were replaced with "stairheid cludgies" on landings.Electricity had been supplied free to all homes in New Lanark from 1898: one dim bulb in each room, all controlled from the generator building and all switched off at 10.00pm each night, or 11.00pm on Saturdays. Problems were increasingly caused by villagers tapping into this supply to power radios and irons, and in 1955 the New Lanark was finally connected to the national grid.

A Housing Association was formed in 1963 to refurbish homes in Caithness Row and Nursery Buildings, but work came to a halt when the Gourock Rope Company announced the closure of the mills and the loss of the final 350 jobs in 1968.
Outstanding Universal ValueBrief synthesisNew Lanark is an exceptional example of a purpose-built 18th century mill village, set in a picturesque Scottish landscape near the Falls of Clyde, where in the early years of the 19th century, the Utopian idealist Robert Owen (1771-1858) inspired a model industrial community based on textile production. It was there that Owen first applied his form of benevolent paternalism in industry, building on the altruistic actions of his father-in-law, David Dale. It was there, too, that he formulated his Utopian vision of a society without crime, poverty, and misery. New Lanark prospered under his enlightened management.The village was founded in 1785, and the cotton mills, powered by water-wheels, were operational from 1786 to 1968. At the turn of the 19th century the mill buildings formed one of the largest industrial groups in the world.The creation of the model industrial settlement at New Lanark, in which planning and architecture were integrated with a humane concern on the part of the employers for the well-being of the workers, is a milestone in social and industrial history. The moral, social and environmental values which underpinned Robert Owen's work at New Lanark provided the basis for seminal material and intangible developments that have had lasting influences on society over the past two hundred years.New Lanark is a unique reminder that the creation of wealth does not automatically imply the degradation of its producers. The village offered a cultural response to the challenges presented by industrial society and was the test-bed for ideas that sought to improve the human condition around the world. The nature and layout of New Lanark inspired other benevolent industrialists to follow his example, and this movement laid the foundations for the work of Ebenezer Howard (1850-1928) in creating the concept of the Garden City. The social and economic systems that Owen developed were considered radical in his own time but are now widely accepted in modern society.The imposing mill buildings, the spacious and well designed workers' housing, and the dignified educational institute and school still survive to testify to Owen's humanism.Criterion (ii): When Richard Arkwright’s new factory system for textile production was brought to New Lanark the need to provide housing and other facilities for the workers and managers was recognised. It was there that David Dale and Robert Owen created a model for industrial communities that was to spread across the world in the 19th and 20th centuries. Criterion (iv): New Lanark saw the construction not only of well designed and equipped workers’ housing but also public buildings designed to improve their spiritual as well as their physical needs.Criterion (vi): The name of New Lanark is synonymous with that of Robert Owen and his social philosophy in matters such as progressive education, factory reform, humane working practices, international cooperation, and garden cities, which was to have a profound influence on social developments throughout the 19th century and beyond.IntegrityThe property encompasses all of the elements necessary to clearly express its Outstanding Universal Value and ensure complete representation of the property’s significance. The appearance of the buildings of the village is now close to that of the early nineteenth century, during Owen’s management, based on the physical evidence, archaeology, graphic and written archive material available. In restoring the village to its historic state, some later 20th century structures have been removed to focus on those elements that contributed to the property’s Outstanding Universal Value.AuthenticityThe level of authenticity at New Lanark is high. The process of conservation and rehabilitation has now been in progress for almost half a century, and major projects continue to the present day. The village has seen little change from its heyday of cotton production in the early nineteenth century. Where elements are missing or have been replaced, the property is clearly interpreted to reflect this. Where rebuilding or reconstruction have been necessary, this has been carried out to the best conservation standards, based on full historic records. Repair and restoration has been undertaken using appropriate traditional materials and workmanship, following original designs wherever possible, and always respecting existing historic fabric. The original weir, lade and waterways which provided water-power to the mills from the 1780s are still in use today.Protection and management requirementsWorld Heritage properties in Scotland are protected through the following legislation. The Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1997 and The Planning etc. (Scotland) Act 2006 provide a framework for local and regional planning policy and act as the principal primary legislation guiding planning and development in Scotland. Additionally, individual buildings, monuments and areas of special archaeological or historic interest are designated and protected under The Planning (Listed Building and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997 and the 1979 Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act.The Scottish Historic Environment Policy (SHEP) is the primary policy guidance on the protection and management of the historic environment in Scotland. Scottish Planning Policy (SPP) sits alongside the SHEP and is the Government’s national planning policy on the historic environment. It provides for the protection of World Heritage properties by considering the impact of development on the Outstanding Universal Value, authenticity and integrity.The management of the World Heritage property New Lanark is the responsibility of its three main partners: South Lanarkshire Council, Historic Scotland and the New Lanark Trust. The New Lanark Management Plan is endorsed and strategically overseen by the management partners, who also assume responsibility for its implementation.The sustainable management of tourism at New Lanark is addressed in the Management Plan. The Partnership Group, through the implementation of the Management Plan, ensures that present and future tourism within the property is developed in an environmentally and economically sustainable way for the benefit of the local community.
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In 1970 the site was sold to a company who extracted aluminum from scrap metal: but only a few jobs were created and the village rapidly came to resemble a scrapyard. Meantime the resident population had shrunk to 80.

Concerns about the future of New Lanark grew and in 1974 the New Lanark Conservation Trust was formed. They appointed a Director, Jim Arnold, who remains in post today, and work began to restore the village. This was seen as a last chance for New Lanark short of complete demolition.
The transformation of New Lanark over the past 30 years has been spectacular. Particularly dramatic transformations have been effected to Mill 1, which was rebuilt to its original height and converted into the New Lanark Mill Hotel; and to Robert Owen's School, which was derelict and partly roofless by the 1970s.

Elsewhere in the village, "Wee Row" has been converted into a 60 bed Youth Hostel. And much of the rest of the housing has been converted into 45 Housing Association tenancies and 20 owner-occupied houses. The resident population of New Lanark now exceeds 200, and businesses together offering over 100 jobs use space within the restored mill complex.

All this is combined with an attraction drawing some 500,000 visitors per year. The achievements at New Lanark were recognised when it was accorded World Heritage Status on 14 December 2001.




New Lanark - (City IQ)

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