Wednesday, April 07, 2010

At New Lanark

After a day sitting in our rain-lashed house yesterday, Boris, Norris, Doris & I took advantage of a decent day's weather to visit New Lanark today. The New Lanark Mill village is a place I have read about and which I have heard mentioned in many history, sociology, economics and politics classes over the years. I hadn't realised that it is now one of only five designated 'World Heritage Sites' in Scotland. Although not established initially by him, New Lanark will always be linked with the name Robert Owen, who bought out his partners in order to model the village as a new socialist Utopia (well, one in which child labour, over-crowding, long working hours, and having to listen to long speeches by Robert Owen, was the norm). Having said that, in comparison with the standard working and living conditions in the cities springing up at the time, like nearby Glasgow, or even Dundee - New Lanark was indeed utopian.
The exhibition itself is pretty well done, with the buildings well preserved, some good exhibits, interesting information panels and an expensively made ride through the mills history told through the eyes of a ghost of a girl who lived in the village in its heyday and who still hangs about to inform visitors. There's plenty of good hands-on history here to engage the children, from discussions of social conditions, to the demise of British manufacturing to the beginnings of socialism to the working of waterwheels.
At the end of it all there is also the fabulous walk alongside the River Clyde, as its waters froth and boil through the gorge and over the much-photographed Falls of Clyde.

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