UNESCO World Heritage Site #172: New Lanark

UNESCO World Heritage Site #172: New Lanark
UNESCO World Heritage Site #172: New Lanark

From the World Heritage inscription:

When Richard Arkwright’s new factory system for textile production was brought to New Lanark the need to provide housing and other facilities for the workers and managers was recognized. It was there that Robert Owen created a model for industrial communities that was to spread across the world in the 19th and 20th centuries. New Lanark saw the construction not only of well designed and equipped workers’ housing but also public buildings designed to improve their spiritual as well as their physical needs. It has the most complete integration of architectural design of all the early cotton mill settlements, a type illustrating the most revolutionary element of the Industrial Revolution. The buildings and water-power system express the extension to the outermost limits of the application of materials and techniques to the new industrial age.

The name of New Lanark is synonymous with Owen and his social philosophy in matters such as progressive education, factory reform, humane working practices, international cooperation, and garden cities, which was to have a profound influence on social developments throughout the 19th century and beyond. Owenism, utopianism, philanthropy, cooperation, communitarianism, industrial capitalism, concepts of the sublime landscape, and models for modern conservation partnerships were all shaped at New Lanark.

This is a fascinating World Heritage site that many people traveling to Scotland might over look.

New Lanark was part of a utopian movement which began in late 18th and early 19th centuries. Many social reformers were trying to make the world a better place by creating communities based on new rules and new social structures. Robert Owen created his vision at New Lanark.

New Lanark was a cotton mill with a community around it. Many of the things implemented there were unheard of at the time: schooling for children under the age of 12, an apartment for families to live in and free health care. Ironically, life at New Lanark by today’s standards would be considered exploitative: children work in a factory at the age of 12, 6 work days a week and the food and housing allotment would be on a par with a company mining town.

The New Lanark mill was in operation from 1785 until 1968. In 1975 the New Lanark Heritage Trust took control and began preservation efforts. Today there is a hotel and restaurant on site and artisan, organic wool spinning is done on site. The site currently gets over 300,000 visitors a year. It is a short drive from Glasgow, which would be the closest major city.

View my complete list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.