New Lanark is a village on the River Clyde, approximately 1.4 miles (2.2 kilometres) from Lanark, in South Lanarkshire, and some 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 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. 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 five UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Scotland and an Anchor Point of ERIH - The European Route of Industrial Heritage.
The New 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 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 urban planning.
New Lanark Today
It has been estimated that over 400,000 people visit the village each year. The importance of New Lanark has been recognised by UNESCO as one of Scotland's five World Heritage Sites, the others being Edinburgh Old and New Towns, Heart of Neolithic Orkney, St Kilda and the Antonine Wall. The mills and town were listed in 2001 after an unsuccessful application for World Heritage listing in 1986. 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.
Visiting New Lanark
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. There is a bus service 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.