Lanark Things to Do

  • Mill Number Three and Two is behind to the right
    Mill Number Three and Two is behind to...
    by mtncorg
  • Mill Number One - New Lanark Mill Hotel
    Mill Number One - New Lanark Mill Hotel
    by mtncorg
  • Description of use of water power at Number Four
    Description of use of water power at...
    by mtncorg

Most Recent Things to Do in Lanark

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    Ghosts, Strange Noises and Time Travel

    by Drever Updated Dec 25, 2013
    Ghost of Annie McLeod
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    The Robert Owen's School for Children is full of exciting attractions such as the Annie McLeod Story, Historic Classroom, and an Interactive Gallery. Annie McLeod is a mill girl from the year 1820. Her ghost appears on center stage through the use of some clever technology while a 3D film of her schooldays and life in New Lanark is shown behind her. She lived in the house in New Buildings that has been restored to its 1820s style.

    Annie proves to be an able guide and paints an intimate picture of what life was like in New Lanark in the days of Robert Owen. For instance, in the mills above each work place is a silent monitor. It has four sides, which are painted different colors. A poor performance means that the black side is turned outwards. No punishment is given, but the look on David Owen’s face when he sees it is enough to discourage it from happening again. Annie is an attractive ghost and I wondered if she would let me take her photograph – she didn’t seem to mind so perhaps I have the world’s first photo of a ghost.

    The Interactive Gallery, in the same building, is great fun for children and quite amusing for adults as well. You have to remove your shoes and move around. Computers monitor your position. As you move you trigger various actions – lights and sounds will change. At times it is like walking in the Nature Reserve along the Falls of Clyde. Bird song fills the air as they change while you move. At another point the sound of rushing water fills the air, and foil positioned on a wall makes a wave pattern.

    In the Visitor Center there is a magical ride called the 'New Millennium Experience'. A girl called Harmony from the year 2200 takes you on a journey to discover the amazing story of New Lanark and Robert Owen! Seats similar to a chair lift move through dark corridors, and as it does so the past unfolds. David Owen is sitting at his desk; the children are dancing in the school and the textile workers meet the constant demands of the textile machinery. It is warm and moist in the mills and the girls work in bare feet to try and keep cool. Children who have entered employment crawl under the machinery scavenging for cotton that has fallen down.

    The social experiments that took place in New Lanark were of worldwide importance, and that is why New Lanark occupies an important place in the history books of 2200. Harmony also told us a bit about what was going to happen in the future. In doing this she was risking losing her time travel license, so I have to keep quiet about the details.

    One floor of a mill still includes the working textile machinery talked about by Harmony. It was idle on this visit, but I have seen it working on a previous visit. Continual films are projected on the walls, which show the various stages of making cotton cloth. The films start in America with the cotton being grown and loaded onto ships, and continue all the way through to New Lanark. New Lanark cloth was suitable for making sails and tents. It was known as picture cotton because when shipped, the wrapping had a picture of New Lanark on the wrapping. Each week New Lanark produced enough cotton thread to go several times around the world. It was the biggest producer in Britain.

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    Schooling in New Lanark - early 19th Century

    by Drever Updated Dec 25, 2013
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    In an age when children worked as chimney sweeps, labored down the mines, or worked in mills and received little education, New Lanark was heaven. David Owen introduced free education for everybody. Just how enlightened he was is shown in various exhibits at the New Lanark, World Heritage Site.

    In 1809 he set up Nursery Buildings, the first nursery school in the world, to improve living conditions of children and apprentices, and in 1816 The Institute for the Formation of Character. It was the centerpiece of his model town New Lanark. It was a non-sectarian educational, social, and recreational center. It provided free full-time education for young people aged two to fourteen, a setting for adult classes, public lectures, dances (three evenings a week in winter months alternating with evening classes), and meetings. The curriculum ensured a balance between vocational knowledge and enjoying 'agreeable recreation'.

    Full-time education varied according to age: children between two and six years attended the infant school; those from six to fourteen the day school, and older children and the adults went to evening classes. The system applied to them was similar to that followed in the day school. However, David Owen was proudest of the day school - and with some reason.

    The revolutionary school's ethic based on Owen's philosophy of "rational approach" disallowed punishment and allowed only encouragement and kindness. Teaching aids such as large colored canvases and singing and dancing complemented reading, writing, and arithmetic, and the children assembled every working day in cotton Highland or Roman dress. Twelve teachers taught 194 children in Elementary school, and seven taught 80 in the Infant School - a good teacher/pupil ratio by today's standards.

    In his autobiography Owen listed the qualities of the school as follows. There was no corporal punishment; kindness by teachers; instruction in realities by conversation; answering questions in a 'kind and rational manner'; abolishing fixed hours and alternating lessons and play; introducing music, dancing, and drill into the curriculum; excursions into the countryside; trying to train children to think and act rationally; and placing children in superior surroundings.

    Even by modern standards it was progressive and enlightened. There was some distance from the vision to the reality - but there is no doubting the vision.

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    Living in New Lanark

    by Drever Updated Dec 25, 2013
    Cramped living space
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    The hustle and bustle of New Lanark as a working town of 2,500 people has gone. The movement to and from work, the barefoot children, the horses and carts, the washing lines, the gossip, the roar of machinery, the clang of the bell regulating the working day, and the constant hustle and bustle has all disappeared. The houses and ghosts remain, but their way of life has been recreated for visitors.

    At New Buildings, below the bell-tower, a 1820s and a 1930s home are open to visitors. The tenement housing is three floors high with stonewalls, slate roofs, and wooden stairs. Each house consisted of a single room in which an entire family lived and slept. "Hurley" beds dragged out from beneath the built in box beds squeezed everybody in. Spring water came from public wells. Sewage went on public dung heaps and was removed by horse and cart. Owen introduced inspections of houses to ensure cleanness and expanded the living accommodation for large families.

    Every single room had a large open fire, and it was around this that family life revolved. On the fire, water heated and food bought from the company store cooked in pots suspended over the flame. The fire needed constant attention to keep the room warm and pots hot. The range itself sparkled from frequent painting and polishing.

    David Owen, the mill owner, developed a co-operative store - good quality goods bought in bulk and sold to the work people at near cost. The profits reinvested in the village benefited everybody. In 1923 the profit of £8,000 covered the cost of the new school. New Lanark’s store was an inspiring example of the success of the early co-operative movement.

    In the far corner of the Village Square is the Village Store, which Robert Owen set up as part of his plan to improve the standard of living for his workers. Visitors can buy traditional goods and gifts within the store. The store was the inspiration for the famous Co-operative Movement. He also introduced a health fund – one sixtieth of the workers wages. For this they were entitled to the services of a doctor.

    Overlooking the gardens in the center of the village is Robert Owen's House - a house with more rooms than people! It is partly furnished in the period of the day to show the home life of the mill owner.

    Within one of the four original mills is a massive working 19th century spinning mule and other textile machinery showing the working place for the people of New Lanark. Work started at 6 a.m. and continued through to 6:30 p.m. The workers went home at meal times for something to eat.

    In 1898 gas lighting used from 1851 gave way to hydroelectricity, one of the first public electricity lighting systems. Flushing water closets improved living and hygiene standards.

    Around 180 people still live in the village in refurbished houses. Some historic buildings now serve as craft workshops. There is also a mill converted into the Mill Hotel and there is a Youth Hostel.

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    The Falls of Clyde

    by Drever Updated Dec 25, 2013
    River Clyde
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    When I see Cora Linn, one of the waterfalls of the River Clyde in full spate, the force of natural power takes my breath away. The waterfalls are among the most impressive I have seen. Even in ordinary weather they are inspiring; water cascading down rocky gorges overhung with trees, masses of ferns and mossy vegetation. In spate their grandeur is magnified. The roar of water becomes hypnotic after a few minutes, and the cascading sheets and folds of white water mesmerizing.

    The waterfall Cora Linn consists of two drops, with a calmer interlude between them. Majestic rocks enclose the basin below the fall. Trees, chiefly hazels, birch, and ash, grow out of the rocky sides wherever they can sink a root. The upper of the falls, the Boninton Linn, has a solemn grandeur … the river descends through a long gorge of steep and threatening rocks. The roaring of the water falling is thunderous.

    Poets, artists, and tourists in search of the awe-inspiring have visited the falls. Two visitors in 1783 cast a different eye over the falls. David Dale, son of a grocer, and prosperous cloth merchant Richard Arkwright debated if the falls could power cotton-spinning machines. Arkwright had invented one called "the water-frame". This was too large and needed too much power for use by individual households - spinning machines and looms at the time were small affairs normally situated in people's homes. They wanted to incorporate hundreds of these machines in mills in one location and employ thousands of workers. The result was New Lanark on the River Clyde.

    The Falls of Clyde, as well as yielding, beauty, majesty, and power, are also a wildlife habitat. The Scottish Wildlife Trust manages the ancient woodlands and riverbanks with nature conservation in mind, and is gradually replacing recent conifer plantations with deciduous trees such as birch, oak, and ash. Their Wildlife Reserve covers 59 hectares - areas of ancient woodland along both sides of the River Clyde gorge. The reserve takes its name. 'Corra Linn', from the waterfall. Its 84 feet drop impressed the poet William Wordsworth during a visit in 1802 so much he described it as "…the Clyde's most majestic daughter".

    The reserve contains a diversity of wildlife. The woodland is filled with the songs of warblers, ***, and wrens, while the open glades and pathways are haunts for badgers, foxes, and roe deer.

    The area is full of wildflowers, fungi, and a huge variety of invertebrates. Otters, dippers, herons, and kingfishers live along the river, while several birds of prey, including peregrine falcons, tawny owl, barn owl, and sparrow hawk, make the reserve their home.

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    MILL NUMBER ONE

    by mtncorg Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Mill Number One - New Lanark Mill Hotel
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    Opened in 1998 on the former site of Mill Number One, the New Lanark Mill Hotel makes a great base for would-be utopian students, travelers to the waist of Scotland - both Edinburgh and Glasgow are short rail journeys away - and naturalists who want to enjoy the beauty of the Falls of the Clyde. The original mill dated to 1785 and boasting three watermills kept some 558 people busy. The top two floors were removed in 1948 and the building eventually became derelict with further time. Eventually the mill was demolished and the hotel was erected on its site.

    The hotel exterior architecture is completely in keeping with the other mill buildings and inside you find 38 very comfortable rooms which occupy the upper two of the five floors. Room windows overlook the river. A row of one and two-story buildings lie in front of the hotel and other mill buildings along the river. These have been converted into holiday apartments and are available as the Waterhouses.

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    YOUTH HOSTEL - WEE ROW

    by mtncorg Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    The Wee Row
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    There are some unique youth hostels in Scotland - i.e. an old whisky warehouse is used at Port Charlotte on Islay - and here in New Lanark is another example. Built as the Wee Row in 1795, this tenement block was converted to a youth hostel in 1994 and serves as the alternate overnight base for visitors as opposed to the New Lanark Mill Hotel. Folks that are walking the Clyde walkpath can also make use of the facility.

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    CLYDE WALKWAY

    by mtncorg Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Entranc to the path south from New Lanark
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    Finished in 2005, it is possible to walk from the Partick station in Glasgow (home to Partick Thistle, the forgotten third football team of Glasgow) all the way to New Lanark some 40 miles away. The most interesting part of the path is here around the Falls of the Clyde and New Lanark. A ten mile loop encompassing all four of the waterfalls - including the Stonebyres Linn which is downstream from New Lanark - is described in the Lonely Planet's Walking in Scotland, though most limit themselves to the section of the path from the village up to Bonnington Linn. One can cross over the dam above the falls and then come back downstream on the other side though that means you need to cross the river to get back to the New Lanark side downstream at Kirkfieldbank, halfway between New Lanark and Stonebyres Linn.

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    FALLS OF THE CLYDE

    by mtncorg Written Oct 11, 2007

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    Corra Linn -not at full spate as normally pictured
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    Immortalized in poetry by William Wordsworth and the subject of paintings by William Turner, the waterfalls consist of four waterfalls on the River Clyde. Most visitors visit the upper three falls being fairly close together - the fourth, Stonebyres Linn (linn is waterfall in Gaelic) is several miles downstream. Walking from New Lanark to the upper of the three falls is a little under two miles. The first falls is Dundaff Linn which is seen from the village at New Lanark. The next is the highest and most famous of all, Corra Linn. On the east bank above Corra Linn was the Pavilion also known as the Hall of Mirrors. Built early in the 18th century, the Pavilion had mirrors on its back walls which reflected the falls giving a visitor the illusion they were standing in the middle of waterfalls. There are only ruins left today. Across the river, hidden amongst the trees, but right on the bank is the ruins of the 15th century Corra Castle which is home to bats today. Corra Linn is the most dramatic of all the falls, but looks a bit smaller most of the time. Continuing upstream past a gorgeous gorge you finally come to Bonnington Linn lying just downstream of the Scottish Power dam that diverts much of the river's water away from the falls to the turbines. The power plant generates 11 megawatts and being built in 1927, was Scotland's first. There is another power plant downstream from Stonebyres Linn, as well.

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    ROBERT OWEN'S HOUSE

    by mtncorg Written Oct 11, 2007

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    Robert Owen's house and Church above
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    This home was built for the original mill manager during the period when the mills were operated by David Dale. When Robert Owen brought his new wife Caroline here in 1799, it became their home. The home has several exhibits devoted to the family and their lives. The home next door was originally the home of David Dale - so it might have been familiar already to Caroline - but he used the home as more of a summer residence, preferring to live in Glasgow with all of its Big City attractions.

    The Church above Owen's home was a later addition, being built late in the 19th century. Religious services were held at the mills in different locations. Religion, itself, was one of Owen's peeves as he didn't think much of it at the time he lived here. In some of his writings, his criticisms of organized religion lost him many would-be supporters. Somewhat incongruously then, Owen became quite a spiritualist near the end of his life in London. Next to the Church, like in most Scottish towns, there is a memorial to those men lost in the First World War.

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    WATER POWER

    by mtncorg Written Oct 11, 2007

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    Water spills over the old mill dam
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    Cotton-spinning machinery at New Lanark utilized water power to turn their wheels. New inventions in the late 18th century allowed raw cotton to be spun into useable thread in a much easier and faster procedure than was previous. New Lanark became one of the first true factories of the Industrial Revolution. Water from the Clyde was funneled through the huge water wheels in the mills, which, in turn, provided power to turn the cogwheels of the spinning frames and spinning jennies - both machines simple enough to operate for unskilled workers - ie children. Water still runs through the mill lade turning the big waterwheel which exists on the foundations of Mill Number Four. The mill lade also provides energy to turn a turbine in Mill Number Three giving electricity to much of today's New Lanark. To ensure a constant water supply through a potential dry summer, a small dam was built just upstream of the mills. Winter freezes could on occasion shut the mills down.

    Water power has been harnessed in a more updated form in the 20th century with the building of a dam above the Falls of the Clyde. Some of the water is then channeled to a powerhouse downstream of the Falls, turning turbine wheels which generate power for Scotland's electrical grid. It is this concern which is responsible for the decreased show of power seen along the Falls of the Clyde today. For holidays, water is allowed to spill full force over the Falls again for the benefit of visitors.

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    WORKER HOUSING

    by mtncorg Written Oct 11, 2007

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    Houses in the Long Row
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    Seven tenement blocks were built to house the mill's workers and their families. Five of the blocks have been restored and have either been converted to houses, rental apartments or in the case of the Wee Row - built 1795 - a youth hostel. About 200 people live in New Lanark today. Braxfield Row and the Long Row were restored by private individuals who bought the houses as shells. The Double Row - so-called because it contained back-to-back apartments - still remains empty and unrestored. Caithness Row - named after a town in the Highlands where many of the workers came from, the Nursery Building - built in 1809 for the orphan children working at the mill previously housed in Mill Number Four - and much of the New Buildings have been converted to rented apartment units. Strict codes exist to ensure a period look to the community - no satellite dishes or tv aerials; services are delivered through buried cables.

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    NEW BUILDINGS

    by mtncorg Written Oct 11, 2007

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    Front of the New Buildings
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    Built in 1798, the New Buildings were built as worker housing and an exhibits demonstrates what a working family's home might have looked like. The bell tower atop the building was used to ring workers to the mills, but today is used to ring at midnight of the last day of the year. There are several apartments in the building still rented out to some of the 200 people that still call New Lanark 'home'.

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    SCHOOL

    by mtncorg Written Oct 11, 2007

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    Robert Owen's School along the mill lade
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    One year after the Institute was opened, this three story school became the first dedicated school for working class children in Scotland - 1817. Children attended class here fulltime from the age of six to ten. After ten, the children went to work in the mills, though many continued to attend evening classes also held here. Today, the school is home to several exhibits which help demonstrate what a New Lanark education meant.

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    VISITOR CENTRE/INSTITUTE

    by mtncorg Written Oct 11, 2007

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    The new Visitor Centre at New Lanark
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    The Institute for the Formation of Character, sounding like something out of '1984' or the old 'The Prisoner' television series, was opened in 1816. The building served Owen's revolutionary attempt to pre-shape children who lived and worked at the mills by improving their environment and giving them a rudimentary education. Britain's first infant school - known in the US as a preschool - was originally to have been a multi-use building including a storage cellar, a school, lecture hall, church, eating/exercise room and a public kitchen. The Institute was a popular stop with visitors who could observe the children in their dancing and singing classes from a upper gallery. Today, the Institute is still forming character, but as the Visitor Centre for today's New Lanark. Adjacent to the Institute is the Engine House, built in 1881. It contains a restored steam engine, which was the next step in power generation for the mills from water power.

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    MILL NUMBER FOUR

    by mtncorg Written Oct 11, 2007

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    Description of use of water power at Number Four
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    Fire was always a worry in a cotton mill. Mill Number One burnt very early into its operations, in 1786, though it was quickly rebuilt and online again by 1789. Mill Number Four was built in 1791 and was initially used as a storehouse and dormitory for 275 working orphans. This mill burnt down in 1883 and was not rebuilt. A waterwheel - not original to New Lanark - was installed here in 1990 to give visitors some idea of how water power was used in the mills.

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