“Surrounded by native woodlands and close to the famous Falls of Clyde, New Lanark was founded in 1785 as a cotton spinning village and became famous as the site of Robert Owen's pioneering social reforms.”
By Norrie Hunter
Take one old mill complex, now a UNESCO World Heritage site, build a luxury hotel and riverside cottages, add some exquisite fine dining and you have one of the best rural experiences for a weekend away.
The NEW LANARK mill is only 30 miles from Glasgow and 50 miles from Ayr and around 15 years ago it underwent an adventurous renovation which now allows visitors to revel in a real bit of Scotland’s bygone industrial history.
The location, on the upper reaches of the River Clyde, is spectacular with the famous Falls of Clyde providing an impressive backdrop. The water from these falls powered the 18th century cotton and woollen mills, which were the main focus industrialist Robert Owen - village creator, mill owner and social reformer. He employed and looked after some 1500 workers and their families throughout their working lives.
The complex now boasts its own 38-room hotel complete with indoor pool sauna and steam rooms and spa/treatment centre. Between the hotel and the river sits eight adjoining self catering cottages with amazing views across the Clyde.
In addition New Lanark Mill has on site an Edinburgh Woollen Mill, gift shops. There is wide range of education activities contained within what was the main mill building and popular with schools and colleges. The speciality for sweet lovers is the small shop selling some old favourites including ‘sour plooms’, rhubarb rock and wine gums!
The highlight of any stay is a visit to the award winning exhibitions that include access to view the working textile machines and a ride on the ‘Annie McLeod Experience’!
Each year some 375,000 people visit New Lanark whose Charitable Trust has restored the buildings and developed the site into one of the most impressive visitor attractions in Scotland.
It was the forward thinking of Robert Owen who showed such concern for “the well being and happiness” of his workers, providing schooling and medical facilities for everyone, that made the business such a success. The school room has been restored and is open to visitors today.
A lift takes visitors to a beautiful roof garden on top of what was the main ‘factory’ building.
The Mill Restaurant in the main hotel provides high quality dining at reasonable prices with a wide and varied menu that will impress the most discerning foodie. The wine list provides an excellent selection of some classic wines from around the world.
Our en suite room was on the top (6th) floor of the main building with spectacular views over the river. A lift provides easy access to all rooms and the restaurant.
John Stirrat, the general manager of New Lanark explains: “Our occupancy rates have been excellent and there is much repeat business from guests who have enjoyed the entire experience. Our self catering waterhouse are about to undergo significant upgrading.” (although I found it hard to fault their existing décor and content).
He added: “By using the waters from the river, we now generate enough hydro electricity to power the entire site and we are about to install another generator which will allow us to sell power to the national grid.”
Innovation was and remains the cornerstone of the thinking behind New Lanark and a visit is highly recommended.
Room rates start at £59 per night for a standard room to £89 for a suite, including full Scottish breakfast. The Waterhouses (cottages) start at £49 per night self catering. Special offers are available on the New Lark Mill Hotel website.
Contact: New Lanark Mill Hotel
Scotland ML11 9DB
Tel: 01555 667200