Advice and Support

New Lanark

Robert Owen’s management transformed this cotton mill village and inspired wider social change.

1 Overview

New Lanark is a restored 18th-century cotton mill village on the banks of the River Clyde, close to the Falls of Clyde in southern Scotland.

New Lanark was created as a cotton-spinning village in the late 18th to early 19th century. It was transformed under the management of Robert Owen.

Owen greatly improved the conditions, facilities and services for the workers and their families and this influenced many social improvements.

Social improvements influenced included:

  • progressive education
  • factory reform
  • more humane working practices
  • garden cities

By 1799, New Lanark was the biggest cotton mill in Scotland and formed one of the largest factory sites in the world. More than 2,000 people lived and/or worked in the village.

The mill continued to manufacture cotton for nearly 200 years, until 1968. This helps to explain why the buildings in the village have changed so little.


New Lanark is located in southern central Scotland, near the market town of Lanark.


The New Lanark World Heritage Site Coordinator
New Lanark Trust
New Lanark World Heritage Site
South Lanarkshire
ML11 9DB


2 Inscription and significance

UNESCO inscribed New Lanark as a World Heritage Site in 2001. The Outstanding Universal Value of New Lanark is based on its remarkable degree of survival as a late 18th to early 19th-century planned mill village.

The status also recognises New Lanark’s significant role in the development of model industrial settlements. It was a milestone in social and industrial history to see planning and architecture combine with a humane concern on the part of employers for workers’ welfare.

Mill owner Robert Owen’s concern for the well-being of workers is physically expressed in the planned layout of New Lanark. It is clear from the presence of the education institute, the school and the spacious workers’ housing.

Owen’s social philosophy had a profound influence on the growth of social developments throughout the 19th century and beyond.

Download the New Lanark World Heritage Site: Statement of Outstanding Universal Value [PDF, 210KB]

3 Visit New Lanark

Attractions and educational experiences include:

  • the mill
  • a museum
  • a village store
  • a 1700s school classroom
  • Robert Owen’s house

To find out more, visit the dedicated New Lanark World Heritage Site website run by New Lanark Trust.

Download the New Lanark leaflet (various languages)

4 Management of New Lanark

New Lanark is a living community in the care of the New Lanark Trust. Its aim is to preserve the area as a sustainable community with a resident population. 

The Trust manages New Lanark in partnership with:

Statement of Outstanding Universal Value and management plan

Each World Heritage Site has a Statement of Outstanding Universal Value, which:

  • clearly states the reasons for the site’s inscription on the World Heritage List
  • identifies what must be protected, conserved and managed to protect its Outstanding Universal Value for the long term

UNESCO also requires each site to have a management plan. This provides a shared framework for a site’s active:

  • conservation
  • management
  • enhancement

You can also view the current New Lanark World Heritage Site Action Plan.

Download the New Lanark World Heritage Site: Statement of Outstanding Universal Value [PDF, 210KB]

Download the New Lanark World Heritage Site Management Plan 2019–2023

Download the New Lanark World Heritage Site Action Plan 2013–2018 [PDF, 401KB]