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New Lanark

New Lanark Mills
South Lanarkshire
ML11 9DB
Great Britain
Telephone +44 (0) 1555 - 661345

Website >>

The Site

A small village in the heart of a wild romantic landscape. There is nothing here to indicate that cotton was once manufactured here in large quantities. The fact of the matter is that New Lanark was created for this very reason alone. The powerful currents of the River Clyde were the driving force behind Scotland’s most profitable spinning mills, the first of which was built here in 1785. But the factories first became truly famous for their social achievement: schools, comfortable terraced houses, free medical treatment, a savings bank and a village shop run along co-operative lines. These were all the ideas of a manufacturer named Robert Owen who wanted to create good living conditions for his workers. At the time, around 1800, this was sensational. Today New Lanark is a World Cultural Heritage site, and simultaneously a popular place to live. The factories have all closed down. Nonetheless visitors can learn a lot about the past here. The site contains a restored worker’s house, a classroom dating back to Owen’s time and working textile machines. A video film takes viewers back on a journey covering three centuries. And in a dramatic audio-visual show the ghost of a small mill girl brings New Lanark in 1820 back to life.


David Dale, a banker and entrepreneur from Glasgow, was very attracted by the speedy currents of the River Clyde in Lanark. This was a much-loved location for painters and poets. Regardless of the fact in 1785 Dale created New Lanark, a brand-new industrial estate here from nothing. Within years this had grown to become Scotland’s largest cotton manufacturing centre. When David Dale’s son-in-law Robert Owen took over the business in 1800 New Lanark consisted of a number of water-driven spinning mills, rented dwellings and a huge workforce. In the following 25 years he made a huge name for himself as a social reformer by proving that commercial success did not necessarily have to be accompanied by repression and exploitation of the workforce. A man of great foresight, he invested a part of his business profits in bettering the lot of his employees. He was primarily concerned with their education. No wonder. His workforce consisted overwhelmingly of children. For this reason Owen created the so-called “Institute for the Formation of Character“, a primary school for very young children who were not yet employed in the mills combined with an evening school for older children. In addition he set up a cooperative food store, a pensions fund, a form of health insurance and a kindergarten. He even introduced the 10 hour working day. In all this he was a pioneer of the co-operative and Trades Union movement and a hero with the common man. That said, these measures were, for the most part, met with little appreciation, not to say open rejection within his own social circles. Owen’s era in new Lanark came to an end in 1825. His reforms, however, lived on for a long time. The spinning mills were modernised and the old waterwheels gradually replaced by turbines. In 1968 the factory doors were closed for ever. Thanks to a comprehensive programme of renovation New Lanark has been repopulated. The village now contains almost 200 inhabitants and a fascinating industrial museum.

Opening hours

You can visit the village at any time.
Visitor Centre:
daily 11am-5pm
except December 25th and January 1st, 2nd
Freely accessible; Guided tours optional; Tours in other languages;

Service facilities

Recommended duration of visit 2,5 hours Admission Charge Access for persons with disabilities Free Infrastructure for Children Playground, Educational offers, Guided tours for children, Baby changing facilities Catering Restaurant, Café, Picnic area Visitor centre on site Yes Gift and book shop on Site Yes