On one day during our week’s hoiday in the Scottish Borders, we spent time exploring the heritage site at New Lanark, a once busy place in a steeply sided valley, being reborn with a new identity. It is still a living and working village.
From the carpark we had to walk down a steep but winding path to get down to the site as it was designed and built all around the River Clyde. The view from the top though was so amazing, I just had to get down there, albeit it rather slowly.
Once down in the valley bottom the sheer immensity and solidity of the old mill buildings became apparent. In its heighday it must have been noisy, busy and unpleasant so seeing it now all cleaned up is rather strange. It is good however to see it being reborn. There is a real sense of pride here.
In its former life it was a group of 4 mills and their support buildings, homes for the employees and even “The Institute” formed by Robert Owen in 1816. All the buildings are built of a beautiful pale local sandstone and local slate for the roofs. They look so sturdy! They have now all been cleaned up and given a new lease of life, a new sense of purpose. The river that runs through the valley providing water for the factories is now a nature reserve. The whole site is home for many but also a massive tourist attraction.
On top of Mill 2 is a discovery waiting for all visitors to find, but you have to be pretty stubborn to get there, as the signage is not good at all. It is even hard to find where to start the ascent!
It is a roof garden featuring strong design in the hard surfaces and a collection of sculptures.
Inside the old mills are a few signs of their busy past, now silent.
We loved the sight of this inspiring sign, with words of Robert Owen, a philanthropic social reformer who aimed to make the lives of mill workers and their families more bearable.