LANARK (NEW), a large and handsome manufacturing village, situated on the right bank of the Clyde, about a mile above the town, and in the parish of Lanark. It is the creation of the late philanthropic and enterprising David Dale, who, in 1784, feued the site of the mills and the village, and a quantity of ground around them, from the late Lord-justice-clerk, Braxfield. At that time the spot was little more than a morass situated in a shelving dell, but the inventive founder soon saw that the site might be turned to great advantage by diverting the waters of the Clyde into a power for the moving of machinery. The first mill was begun in 1785, and a subterraneous passage of about 300 feet in length was hewn through a rocky mount for the purpose of an aqueduct.1 The height of the fall of water is 28 feet. In 1788 a second mill was built, and was nearly roofed in, when the first was totally consumed by an accidental fire, but it speedily rose from its ashes, and was rebuilt and ready for the machinery in 1789. Since then various extensions have been made, until it is now the most extensive cotton manufacturing establishment in the county of Lanark. About 1,400 of the inhabitants are employed directly in the mills, or as auxiliaries to them, and it seems to be a settled rule that no one shall set himself down in the village except he shall be connected with the mills. The factory, or factories, at New Lanark, are, perhaps, the most healthy in the kingdom. There is here none of the confined atmosphere and other disadvantages which belong to establishments of a similar kind erected within the crowded locality of a large manufacturing town; the situation is open and healthful, pleasant, from its beautiful situation on the Clyde, and the utmost attention is paid by the proprietors and managers to the cleanliness of the dwellings, and the well-being of the people. None of the children are allowed to enter the mills until they are ten years of age, and previous to this, and for two or three years after it, a species of compulsory though excellent system of education is enjoined by the proprietors upon the parents. The school, which is thus patronized by the company, is called the institution, and by its means New Lanark has escaped the stigma, which attaches to many other manufacturing communities, of permitting their youth to grow up in immorality and ignorance. The inhabitants, therefore, from this early judicious training, are, in general, an orderly, intelligent, and most creditable class of people, and although originally gathered from many different parts of the kingdom to found the new village, their national characteristics have been merged or amalgamated into a combination which has produced distinctive feelings and habits peculiarly their own. The majority of the present inhabitants are the descendants of the original settlers, collected from various parts of the Highlands. Although the result of founding this manufacturing colony has been very successful, Mr. Dale does not appear to have been at all fastidious in his selection of the early inhabitants, as may be learned from the following account, written in 1794:- “In 1791 a vessel carrying emigrants from the Isle of Skye to North America, was driven by stress of weather into Greenock, and about 200 were put ashore in a very destitute condition. Mr. Dale, whose humanity is ever awake, offered them immediate employment, which the greater bulk of them accepted. And soon after, with a view to prevent further emigration to America, he notified to the people of Argyleshire and the Isles the encouragement given to people at the cotton mills; and undertook to provide houses for 200 families in the course of 1792. These were all finished last summer (1793), and a considerable number of Highlanders have of late come to reside at New Lanark.” [Old Statistical Account.] – Mr. Dale, as part proprietor and manager, was succeeded by his son-in-law, Mr. Robert Owen, whose visionary notions and projects for the regeneration of the social system of mankind have made his name too notorious in the kingdom. For a number of years he devoted much attention to the education of the children, and propounded several plans for the amelioration of the inhabitants, which were at first regarded with a kindly eye, but have since been deservedly scouted as incompatible with the well-being of the fabric of social humanity. It is only fair to mention, however, that Mr. Owen’s name is still mentioned by the villagers with respect and even attachment, from the personal kindness and generosity which he displayed towards them. In 1827 this individual ceased to have any connection with these works, which are now managed by Messrs. Walker and Co.- The village is within sight of the falls of Corra-linn and Dundaff.
FlikeNoir 4 Minutes
Published by FlikeNoir
My name's Jenny, I'm in my mid-thirties, from Glasgow and I'm your friendly local (as everything online has become) Scottish historian. View all posts by FlikeNoir