New Lanark has been given a lifeline of £2.3m by the National Heritage Memorial Fund (NHMF) as part of their Covid-19 Response Fund.
The restored 18th-century cotton mill village on the banks of the River Clyde, is one of Scotland’s six designated UNESCO World Heritage sites. Thanks to the funding from NHMF, New Lanark Trust will be able to undertake maintenance of a number of Category A listed buildings on the site, which had been delayed because of the pandemic. The grant will also enable specific work on the roofs of the School House, Nursery and New Buildings and Long Row to take place.
New Lanark was founded as a cotton-spinning village in 1785 by David Dale, who built cotton mills and housing for the mill workers. Dale built the mills there in a brief partnership with the English inventor and entrepreneur Richard Arkwright to take advantage of the water power provided by the only waterfalls on the River Clyde.
Dale's humane philosophy, realised from the start in the buildings of New Lanark, was expanded by Robert Owen, who took over management of the mill village in partnership from 1799. It was his vision for New Lanark that has made it famous.
Owen vastly improved the conditions, facilities and services for the workers of New Lanark and their families. He influenced many social improvements, including progressive education, factory reform, more humane working practices and garden cities.
By the early 1800s, New Lanark was the biggest cotton mill in Scotland and formed one of the largest factory sites in the world. More than 2,000 people lived and/or worked in the village.
The mill continued to manufacture cotton, wool and textiles products for nearly 200 years, until 1968, hence why the buildings in the village have changed so little.
Today, the site is an active village community where people still live and work. Located on the edge of the banks of the magnificent and powerful River Clyde and surrounded by numerous paths, it attracts both local walkers and those from further afield. It houses a visitor centre which tells the story of the mill village and integrates a number of buildings including Robert Owen’s House, Millworker’s House, a historic classroom and a mill showcasing textile machinery in action. Visitors can also stay on site in the 38 bedroom four star hotel. The site is also a fantastic resource for schools to explore, and hosts a diverse collection of archive material.
Prior to the pandemic New Lanark averaged 320,000 visitors per annum making it the leading paid visitor attraction in South Lanarkshire. With the help of this funding from NHMF, New Lanark Trust are hoping to see the level of visitors returning to the site if not exceeding it.
James Pow, Chair of New Lanark Trust, said: “This crucial grant from the National Heritage Memorial Fund is a significant step in New Lanark Trust’s recovery from the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic. Whilst the site fully re-opened to visitors in May 2022 the legacy of the pandemic, which limited income and reduced operations particularly around the maintenance of our world renowned heritage assets, needs to be addressed. With this significant funding award, the Trust will be able to accelerate much needed works to ensure the site continues to be conserved with integrity and provides a place where people who live, work and visit can enjoy and learn about the unique heritage the site has to share.”
New Lanark is one of 4 exceptional Scottish heritage assets that have been successful in securing funding from NHMF. The others are:
Tall Ship Glenlee
Scottish Railway Preservation Society
Wanlockhead Museum Trust
Dr Simon Thurley CBE, Chair of the National Heritage Memorial Fund, said: “I am delighted to announce our support for the future of New Lanark. The UNESCO World Heritage site is an excellent example of how our heritage is not just the buildings and structures we can see but also the stories they can tell us and the way they shape our lives and the places in which we live.
“We’re extremely proud to have provided a lifeline for some of Scotland’s incredible heritage sites and assets through the Covid-19 Response Fund – from historic ships and locomotives to museums – helping them to mitigate the impacts of the pandemic.”