17th July 2009 at 01:00
World Heritage site better than Alton Towers

Could the historical industrial community of New Lanark really be "better than Alton Towers"? That's how one S2 boy described a recent visit to the 18th-century mill village that was declared a World Heritage Site in 2001.

Visually, New Lanark is breathtaking with its careful arrangement of massive sandstone buildings coming as a complete surprise in its lush rural setting.

Founded by David Dale in 1785, some of New Lanark's cotton mills were still in production in 1968, although by then its population was declining and many buildings were under threat of demolition. In 1974, the New Lanark Conservation Trust was set up and its hard work saved the village, now with a resident population of 200 and about 400,000 visitors a year.

New Lanark is of international importance, not only because of its industrial, technological and architectural heritage but also because of the work carried out there by David Dale, son-in-law of Robert Owen. It was Owen who established the world's first infant creche and a school for mill workers' children where there was no physical punishment and the curriculum included music and dancing.

Visitors can tour the reconstructed classroom with its replicas of the tunics the pupils wore, the resources that were used to teach them and a film based on the memoirs of a teacher there in the 1820s.

A short documentary and a high-tech, fairground-style ride through its history (not for the claustrophobic) set the scene for the New Lanark experience, which includes the village store, mill workers' houses and the textile machinery currently being used at New Lanark to produce yarn.

www.newlanark.org. Call 01555 661345.

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