New Lanark Heritage Site & Visitors' Centre
Wed 24th August 2016 at 12.50 - 14.00
Trustee Alistair Duncan explained the work of the Trust
Alister Duncan from the New Lanark Heritage Site and Visitor Centre was introduced by Vice-President Gordon Wolk as the speaker.
He first gave information about the site location which is in a beautiful gorge on the River Clyde 72 miles from St Andrews and equidistant from Edinburgh and Glasgow ideally situated for the setting up of a cotton mill. Entrepreneur David Dale opened the first mill in 1786 followed soon after by another three mills and cotton was spun continuously for nearly 200 years.
In 1799 Robert Owen started to develop his own Utopian ideas of a society without crime and poverty. A complete village was built with its own village store using its own currency and selling goods for minimum profit. Decent housing was available for the workers and a school was built and children were no longer allowed to work at 5 years of age. A nursery was provided for the very young children and Owen realised how much more he could get out of the workers when they knew their children were being well looked after.
New Lanark village prospered under Robert Owen's enlightened management and he was popular with the employees but not the management as his methods were considered radical at the time. His was a social experiment giving work and recreation to the workers in what is now widely accepted in modern society but not then. He went on to found a village in then USA called Harmony Village but the experiment was not a success..
In 2001 UNESCO added the new Lanark Site onto its register which brings many benefits and every penny made is ploughed back into the village. As well as the authentic cotton mill and school room and shop, there is a hotel, spa, self catering cottages, affordable housing for which there is a waiting list as well as a cafe, beautiful roof garden and visitors centre which has to earn its own living. There is a playground for children, and and ice-cream manufacturing and selling unit, study centre and further renovation is on-going. The site provides conference facilities and hosts 70 weddings each year and a new high quality wool textile business if being developed.
Colin Brown gave the vote of thanks and for those who have not yet visited New Lanark Heritage Village Alister made it sound like a great place for a visit.