Visit to New Lanark Cotton Mills with Aubigny Jumelage 2014 – Photographs with thanks Christian Couture.

The New Lanark cotton Mills were founded in 1786 by David Dale, The Mills were used in 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 who became mill manager in 1800, an industrialist who carried on his father-in-law’s philanthropic approach to industrial working and who then became a social reformer.

The New Lanark mills depended upon water power. A dam was constructed on the River Clyde above New Lanark and water was drawn off the river to power the mill machinery, the water first travelled through a tunnel, then through an open channel called the lade.

It then went into a number of water wheels in each mill building. It was not until 1929 that the last water wheel was replaced by a water turbine.

Water power is still used in New Lanark, a new water turbine has been installed in Mill N0. 3 to provide electricity for the tourist areas of the village.

In Owen’s time some 2,500 people lived in New Lanark, many from the poorhouses of Glasgow and Edinburgh. Although not the grimmest of mills by far, Owen found conditions unsatisfactory and resolved to improve the workers’ lot. He paid particular attention to the needs of the 500 or so children living in the village and working in the mills.

Living Conditions – In the mid 19th Century, an entire family would have been housed in a single room.

Some sense of such living conditions can be obtained by visiting the reconstructed Millworkers House at New Lanark World Heritage Site.

Some Mill Workers [ Madame Couture and friends ]

The living conditions in the village gradually improved, and by the early 20th century families would have had the use of several rooms . It was not until 1933 that the houses had interior cold water taps for sinks and the communal outside toilets were replaced by inside facilities.

From 1938 the village proprietors provided free electricity to all homes in New Lanark, but only enough power was available for one dim light bulb in each room. The power was switched off at 10>00pm Sunday to Friday.

Kitchen Range .

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 six World Heritage Sites .

About 130 people live today in New Lanark, of the residential buildings, only Mantilla Row has not been restored. Some of the restoration work was undertaken by private individuals who bought the houses as derelect shells and restored them as private houses. In addition to the 21 owner- occupied properties in the village there were 45 rented properties which were let by a registered association.

Museum shop.
Considerable attention has been given to maintaining the Historical authenticity of the village. No television aerials or satellite dishes are allowed, services such as telephone, television and electricity are delivered through buried cables. To provide a consistent appearance all external woodwork is painted white, doors and windows follow a consistent design.
posted by Irene Higgenbotham 8th March 2021.