Love history? Love nature? Then how do you fancy visiting a glorious heritage village on the banks of the River Clyde, where you can walk by the river and through history? That’s exactly what New Lanark offers, not to mention exhibitions, a well stocked shop, an excellent café and a superb hotel.
New Lanark lies on the banks of the River Clyde in Lanarkshire, within easy striking distance of both Edinburgh and Glasgow. It provides a unique window into the Industrial Revolution. Not one of Dickensian-style hardship, but very much of a model community that showed how successful industrial production and concern for the workers’ welfare need not to be mutually exclusive.
New Lanark was founded in 1786 by David Dale, who established cotton mills and provided housing for the workers. He teamed up with English inventor Richard Arkwright to make the most of the natural power on offer from the only waterfalls on the River Clyde. With the arrival of Dale’s son-in-law, Robert Owen, a Welsh social reformer, New Lanark fully realised its role over his quarter of a century in charge. It became a sort of socialist utopia and ideal example of urban planning in complete contrast to the poor conditions for many other workers during the period.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site
New Lanark may be a historic site, but I find it striking that the mills here actually kept operating right up until as recently as 1968. The site could have fallen into rack and ruin, but mercifully the New Lanark Conservation Trust (NLCT) was set up in 1974. It’s now called the New Lanark Trust (NLT) and it does a great job of both preserving the village and also allowing the public access. Today the impressively refurbished buildings of this 18th-century site are one of Scotland’s six UNESCO World Heritage sites and also a fulcrum of The European Route of Industrial Heritage (ERIH), bringing in a whopping 300,000 visitors every year.
New Lanark is a great place to visit at any time, but it’s especially attractive in this Year of History Heritage and Archaeology. We are heading back soon –my girls absolutely love it so I have no choice! I find something new every time I go and love the combination of striking architecture, informative exhibits and riverside strolls to the Falls of Clyde, which made man’s industry here possible in the first place. A day at New Lanark is never enough!
I recommend learning more about the history of the village through the New Lanark visitor attractions and the new programme of ‘The Story of New Lanark’ guided tours. These last around 45 minutes with the highlight the various historical milestones in the village’s story. More thematic and behind the scenes tours are in the pipeline so look out for these too. New Lanark is not an attraction that believes on sitting on its laurels.
Changes are afoot in the Mill Shop too. There are new ranges from Joules and Seasalt, as well as a refreshed New Lanark Wool and Textiles department for fans of crafting and knitting. The Mill Café meanwhile is the perfect spot for a light bite, with a tasty range of sandwiches, hot meals and delicious home baking.
New Lanark Mill Hotel meanwhile is on hand if you cannot bear to leave, or are looking for a unique night or two away. The friendly and welcoming team behind the hotel recently won the ‘Front of House Team of the Year’ at the Hotel Prestige Awards and it was well deserved. The Mill One Restaurant here is popular with hotel guests and attracts local diners too. There are also superb leisure facilities, including a swimming pool, bubble pool, steam room, sauna, and a health and fitness studio. The trio of new Beauty Rooms offer a wide range of customised treatments. Given all this it’s easy to see why the hotel is a popular wedding venue!
Other accommodation options include the four star self-catering Waterhouses down by the River Clyde, with each cottage boasting an open plan living room, dining and kitchen area. Then there is the ‘Wee Row’ Hostel, a thoroughly unique hostelling experience with a choice of room types. All are ensuite.
LEGO Brick City Exhibition
One massive new attraction this year is the Brick City Exhibition, which has already attracted tens of thousands of visitors as it has toured the UK. Kids and big kids alike have the chance to see the world in LEGO Bricks. New Lanark is hosting the exhibition from 28th June to 10th September, with over 60 LEGO creations on display, made up from over half a million LEGO bricks! The largest model is a replica of St Pancras train station in London, which comes in at a whopping 4m x 4m. The Coliseum in Rome and the L’Arc De Triomphe in Paris are also recreated solely with LEGO Bricks. All the masterpieces are designed by Warren Elsmore – a professional LEGO Brick artist.
Within the exhibition there will be a ‘Self-led Play Area’. Here you can build your very own LEGO creations within a set session time. In conjunction with Brick City there will also be accessible exhibition viewing sessions and Robotics Workshops using LEGO bricks. If you love LEGO and want to savour a rich slice of history then visiting New Lanark this summer is essential!
28th June – 10th September 2017; 10am–5pm daily (last entry 4pm).
(On the following dates the exhibition will be open to the public 11am – 5pm: Thursday 29th June, Thursday 6th July, Wednesday 12th July, Tuesday 25th July and Thursday 3rd August.)
Adult – £6; Child (3-15) – £4; Concession (OAP & Student) – £5; Family (2 adults + 2 or 3 children) – £16 and; Under 3 – FREE.
Brick City attendees receive a voucher for 25% off tickets for the award-winning New Lanark Visitor Centre, valid until 31st August.
Brick City Exhibition tickets are available to purchase via the website or from the Visitor Centre reception desk which is open 10am-5pm 7 days a week. Groups of 15+ should call 01555 661345 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Accessible Sessions are available on the 13th July and 3rd August, 9-11am. These quiet and sensory friendly morning sessions will not be open to the general public (however extended families of children with autism are most welcome to join as part of a group), making them more suitable for visitors with autism and additional support requirements. There is a very limited capacity for these sessions so tickets MUST be booked in advance as soon as possible to guarantee your space.
*This blog comes in association with New Lanark Trust.
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