Ike visits New Lanark and the Falls of Clyde, Scotland

Lovely Jane has taken Ike to see New Lanark, a village on the River Clyde, approximately 1.4 miles (2.2 kilometres) from the town of Lanark in South Lanarkshire. It was founded in 1786 by David Dale, who built cotton mills and housing for the mill workers.

David Dale was in a brief partnership with the English inventor Richard Arkwright to use the water power provided by the waterfalls on the River Clyde.

David Dale’s son-in-law, Robert Owen, a Welsh philanthropist and social reformer became involved in the business and New Lanark became an early example of a planned settlement. 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 became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2001.

Ike, Jane and friends went to look at the houses which had been occupied by David Dale and Robert Owen.

David Dale’s House
Robert Owen’s House

Ike was interested to know that community groups could hire out Robert Owen’s house for a small fee for meetings.

Next to the two houses was a grassed sloping area which had been Robert Owen’s garden and this gave a good view of the buildings which had been used to accommodate the millworkers.

The garden at Robert Owen’s House

Ike looked down in the other direction and saw the newly refurbished New Lanark Hotel.

Ike, Jane and friends returned to the road and walked to the main buildings in the village. Ike looked back to get a view of the area they had just left.

At the main gate there are some buildings which are now used as the main visitor centre.  There were some small coloured flags overhead, adding colour to the area.

The New Lanark Visitor Centre

Ike had a look down to the River Clyde and could see Dundaff Linn in the distance.  He also noticed Robert Owen’s School for Children on the left and the Dyeworks in the distance:

The “School for Children” was built in 1817. Owen believed that every person had a right to an education and recreation and these buildings were used for this purpose. Under Owen’s management, children who would previously have worked in the mill were sent to school and received structured full-time education. No child under 10 was allowed to work in the Mills.

As soon as village children could walk, they were taken into the nursery, where they were looked after by two young village girls. This meant their mothers could go back to work and the process effectively formed the world’s first workplace nursery.

From age 3 to 6, children attended the infant school and when aged 7, they attended junior school. Music and dancing played an important role in the curriculum which was also included nature study, history, geography and art, as well as reading, writing and arithmetic.

Ike, Jane and friends started to walk along the river path towards the Falls of the Clyde and entered the Falls of the Clyde Nature Reserve which is maintained by the Scottish Wildlife Trust.  At the start of the reserve they found a viewing platform and were able to get a closer at Dundaff Linn. (Linn is another word for a waterfall).

As they walked along they noticed some lovely wild flowers. Ike was impressed by a yellow flower which a small sign said was a Welsh Poppy.

Hydro Power

Further along the path they passed the Bonnington Power Station which is run by Drax. They could hear the water thundering down a nearby hill into the power station. This meant that the water running over Corra Linn would be a mere trickle! Corra Linn is 26 metres high and is the highest of the falls on the Clyde. When they arrived at Corra Linn the water levels were low but it was still worth viewing.

Corra Linn

Making Charcoal

They then walked to a path behind the viewing area for Corra Linn and entered a field. Jane said that horses used to graze in this field but there were no horses to be seen when they were there.  

Some men were burning wood in a small incinerator. Jane spoke to them and they said they were from the Scottish Wildlife Trust and were burning small pieces of wood to make charcoal to add to the soil to dry it out. The horses had been moved temporarily to another field while the area was being dried out.

Ike, Jane and friends then walked along a wooded area back to the village. This was a pleasant walk with the sunshine trickling through the trees above. When they arrived back at the village they took a last look at the buildings which they had missed before their walk to the Corra Linn.

Ike was impressed by a bowed building at the end of Caithness Row. Jane explained that this building was called the Counting House and was added to the end of Caithness Row by Robert Owen somewhere between 1810 and 1816. The Counting House was Owen’s office and was where the villagers collected their ‘tickets for wages’.

The Counting House

The New Lanark Village Store was established by Robert Owen in 1813, selling quality goods at cheap prices and giving customers value for money.

The Village Store today offers visitors the chance to find out about shopping in the past, the development of the Co-Operative movement and Fair Trade.  Unfortunately it was closed when Ike, Jane and friends visited.

New Lanark Woollen Mill

There is still a working mill at New Lanark. New Lanark Yarn is unique because it is spun on a historic 19th century spinning machine that was salvaged from a mill in Selkirk in the Scottish Borders, which was then brought to New Lanark and reconditioned.

The yarn which is now spun at New Lanark is woollen, rather than cotton and provided a good source of revenue for the area. The wool is sourced from Britain, Australia and New Zealand.

As they started to climb the steep hill from the village back to Lanark they passed the War Memorial with the names of the residents who were victim of the World Wars. This was also a reminder that the village is still a vibrant place with a working mill and is home to many people.

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