Nestled on the banks of the river Clyde and surrounded by woodland, New Lanark Visitor Centre is the perfect day out. The 18th century restored cotton mill is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and still has a population of residents, small businesses, a hotel, a hostel and the visitor centre. Its scale is vast and we filled practically a whole day wandering around the attractions and exhibition areas.
Built in the late 1700’s, New Lanark was built in the narrow gorge aside the river where it was hoped that the Falls of Clyde could power the cotton mill. For nearly two hundred years the mill manufactured cotton and with around two thousand residents or workers. The Visitor Centre experience today allows you to enter the mill buildings, school, village store, Robert Owen’s house and see how the mill workers themselves would have lived. There is also a roof garden from which to admire the village from a different perspective. Well worth a look.
Upon entering the reception area to the Visitor Centre we received a warm welcome from the lady on the desk and whilst providing us with our tickets explained the attractions, exhibits and the Back in Time event that was also on during the day. But more about that later.
After this we made our way passed the rather impressive donkey engine to the Annie McLeod Experience.
The Annie McLeod Experience ride is told by the ghost of, guess who? You got it, Annie McLeod, a mill worker from 1820 who shares her story of life as it was then at the site. Set in darkness, there are warnings before entering the “ride” (slow moving pods, suspended from a rail on the ceiling) that it may not be suitable for those with claustrophobia or anyone who does not like the dark (little ones may not like this bit too much). It is about seven or eight minutes long and is a really good way of learning just how tough mill life was for everyone.
Over in mill 3, it was really interesting to see up close the spinning mules in action. Stretching out the yarn and winding it onto bobbins. All the time thinking about Annie’s story too. These vast, quick moving machines probably haven’t changed much, if at all in hundreds of years. There was also information about the whole process to read but broken down in to digestible chunks and not to overload with facts.
Harry Potter Fans read on;
The wool produced at the New Lanark Mill was used to create the Christmas jumpers featured in the Harry Potter films. How’s that for a claim to fame?
A beautiful view over the village and along the river from this roof garden. So serene, calm and relaxing.
Cafe & Shop
By the time we had gotten this far it was time for a well deserved cuppa and I wish I hadn’t have had such a big breakfast because the food on offer sounded (and smelt) lovely. A great variety from sandwiches, soup and hot meals, all at a reasonable price too. Hot and cold drinks also available. Oh and the ice cream. The award winning ice cream is amazing. I opted for a double scoop of Jaffa Cake. Fabulous and made on site too!
The Mill Shop has lots of quality Scottish products but of course the main attraction here is the yarn which is produced on site. There are knitting kits, fabrics and the most beautiful Organic Tartan, sold exclusively at the mill. It really is special. The colours representing the water of the Clyde and the woodland surrounding the village.
After browsing the wares of the shop we went outside and across the grounds to Robert Owen’s house, Millworkers house and the village store. All adding more insight to the history of not only the mill but to how Robert Owen changed the life’s of employee’s. Anyone who has or does work for someone else, has a lot to thank him for!
Back in Time Day – 1820’s
We had chosen last Sunday to visit because of the added bonus that the Back in Time Day was also being held. A chance to see craft demonstrations, try food of the time, listen to period music and for families that were there, a chance to have some good ol’ fashioned fun – sack races, potatoe and spoon races and even tug’o’war. Not a games console or smart phone in sight! As you can see from the photo’s below the Dude also had a go at wood turning. He assures me it was easier than he thought it would be, but just look at the concentration on his face! Later in the afternoon there was also a falconry display on the lawn too. Staff and volunteers were dressed accordingly too.
There are some fantastic events happening throughout the rest of the Summer and toward Christmas with the next one being a visit from the BBC Antique Roadshow on Thursday 28th July.
All in all we had a fantastic day and would say it is suitable for all ages, although I would like to point out that it may not be suitable for those with poor mobility or wheelchair users. Check out these guidance notes to help you plan your day. There is also a picnic area, play park, woodland walks including the Scottish Wildlife Trust managed reserve of the Falls of Clyde.
We had been invited to New Lanark Visitor Centre and given free entry in return for this blog post and I would like to thank the staff and volunteers for such a brilliant day. We will be back.