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The Mills

The Mills at New Lanark were originally built to manufacture cotton and their immense size- each has six storeys and an attic- must have amazed the local population at the time. All of the mills originally looked like Mill 1, as can be seen in this 1818 drawing by John Winning, however all were either altered or entirely rebuilt at some point, creating the unique buildings we see today.


Mill 1

Mill 1 is the oldest surviving mill. The original mill went into production in 1786 but burned down in 1798 and a new mill was immediately constructed on the same foundations. Unlike many other industrial buildings of the time, the design is not purely functional- it includes a pedimented central bay with elegant arched Venetian windows. These may have been the influence of the famous Enlightenment architect Robert Adam, who designed David Dale's house in Glasgow.

At some point in the early 20th century, the top three levels of the mill were dismantled by the Gourock Ropework company, as they were becoming structurally unsafe and were not required for production. This was the condition of the building when New Lanark Conservation Trust inherited it in 1982. A massive restoration process was begun in the 1990s which resulted in the opening of the New Lanark Mill Hotel in Mill 1 in 1998. This is now a beautiful 3-star hotel owned and operated by New Lanark Trust- you can explore it further here.

Mill 2

Mill 2 was dramatically alterned in the 1880s, when it was extended to almost double it's original width, with the new part constructed in brick. The pitched roof was also dismantled, the resulting flat roof making it quite different to the others. The single brick arch construction between cast iron beams was not up-to-date at the time but suited the layout of the mills and the ceilings are now displayed as features throughout the building.

Mill two now contains bedrooms, a conference suite and leisure facilities for the Mill Hotel, as well as the New Lanark Mill Shop and New Lanark Wool production. It's most unique feature however, if the roof garden which occupies the entire of the flat roof space. It is Scotland's largest roof garden and was carefully designed to allow for weight and access considerations. The deign of the garden reflects the flow of water through New Lanark and also has links to symbols of utopian living, like its maze. You can find ou more anout the roof garden in the publication 'New Lanark Roof Garden' and you can visit it as part of the New Lanark Visitor Centre.

Mill 3

Like Mill 2, Mill 3 also replaced an earlier building which was destroyed by fire in 1819. The new building was designed to be fire-proof, and is a good example of an early iron-framed mill, with fire-clay tiled floors, brick arch ceilings, cast iron beams, columns and window-sills. The attic floor is also made entirely of cast-iron plates, to prevent the spread of fire to the roof timbers. The 3-bay extension which linked the mill to Mill 4 was also designed to at as a firebreak. Most of the flooring in this section was removed in the 1880s to bring in the rope drive connecting the steam engine to the machinery. 

Mill 3 now forms the main part of the New Lanark Visitor Centre and contains the Annie McLeod Experience Dark Ride, the People, Cotton and Machinery Exhibition, and the Mill Café. The position of the rope-drive is now occupied by a glass bridge connecting Mill 3 with the Institute for the Formation of Character.

Mill 4

Mill 4 stood directly next to Mill 3 but was never rebuilt after it burned down in 1883. It was originally used as a storeroom, workshop and boarding house but was fitted out as a mule-spinning mill after 1813 as the workshop and boarding functions had moved to purpose-built premises.

The foundations of the mill have now been excavated and visitors can see the original layout of the building, along with the location of the waterwheel.


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South Lanarkshire Scotland
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