New Lanark World Heritage Site Blog

Talks at New Lanark

19/10/15 Talks at New Lanark # , , , , ,

Free talk at New Lanark on Historic New Harmony & Jane Blaffer Owen

Free talk at New Lanark on Historic New Harmony & Jane Blaffer Owen

Robert Owen is known for being one of New Lanark’s most enlightened mill managers, but perhaps one of the lesser known facts about Owen is that in 1825, frustrated by constant opposition to his new ideas, Robert Owen sold the Mills at New Lanark and decided to buy the settlement of Harmony in Indiana, which he renamed New Harmony.

In the less conservative climate of the New World, Owen planned to create a Utopian Community or Village of Unity and Mutual Co-operation. Owen was partnered by William Maclure, a Scottish Geologist and social experimenter who shared his belief in rational and scientific education.

Just 2 years later, in the spring of 1827 the Owen / Maclure New Harmony was abandoned after a series of disagreements within the community organisation. Despite the failure of Owen’s utopian dream, New Harmony did not disintegrate completely. Some of its most brilliant settlers remained and made significant contributions to American scientific and educational theory, study and practice.

Over the years the relationship between New Lanark and New Harmony has continued to grow, with many visits ‘across the pond’ being made by residents and representatives from both communities.

On Friday 30th October, Nancy Mangum McCaslin from New Harmony will be giving a free talk at New Lanark related to New Harmony and Jane Blaffer Owen CBE, the wife of Kenneth Dale Owen – Robert Owen’s great-great grandson.

“In 1941, Kenneth Dale Owen, great-great grandson of Robert Owen, brought his bride, Jane Blaffer Owen, to his ancestral hometown, New Harmony, Indiana, where two communal societies took root in the early 1800s: the religious Harmonie Society from Germany, who relocated and sold their entire town to Robert Owen, who together with a like-minded Scotsman and scientist William Maclure, began an educational and scientific model community based on mutual cooperation. New Harmony’s historic significance, however, had faded by the time of her arrival in the 1940s.”

Jane Blaffer Owen dedicated herself not only to the preservation and revitalization of the historic buildings but also to bringing some of the finest intellects of her time to the town. Jane Blaffer Owen recounts her activities in the posthumously published memoir New Harmony, Indiana: Like a River, Not a Lake (published by Indiana University Press, 2015) and edited by Nancy Mangum McCaslin, who also serves on the Advisory Board of Historic New Harmony.

Nancy will give a presentation on Robert Owen & his family in New Harmony, followed by a brief documentary showing an interview with Jane Blaffer Owen, entitled Conversations in New Harmony. The free talk will take place on Friday 30th October 2015 at 2.30pm within the New Lanark River Room. Afterwards, copies of New Harmony, Indiana: Like a River, Not a Lake will be available for sale and signings.

No booking is required for the talk. For further information please call New Lanark Trust on 01555 661345.

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18/06/15 Talks at New Lanark # , , , , ,

Chatelherault Country Park: Developing a Long Term Forest Plan

Chatelherault Country Park: Developing a Long Term Forest Plan

Tomorrow, we will be joined by Malcolm Muir, Countryside and Greenspace Manager, South Lanarkshire Council, for his talk, ‘Restructuring an Ancient Treescape at Chatelherault.’ The talk will outline the Long Term Forest Plan which is being prepared to ensure the stunning native wildlife, landscape and views at Chatelherault County Park are there for future generations to enjoy. Sarah O’Sullivan from the Clyde and Avon Valley Landscape Partnership fills us in on why the organisation are supporting the exciting plans.

Formerly a royal hunting park for the ancient Kings of Strathclyde, the Hamilton Family were granted the lands of ‘Cadzow’ around 1320. Chatelherault was built in the 1740s as a hunting lodge for the Dukes, at the end of a long tree lined avenue which led from Hamilton Palace. It reflected the formal symmetry of the great, designed landscape surrounding Hamilton Palace to the front, while the back of the building offered magnificent views over the Avon gorge which was, at that point, covered in native broadleaved woodland. The Dukes built paths, bridges and maintained viewpoints which are still in use today, although in varying states of repair.

Throughout these long centuries, the ancient broadleaved woodlands had been carefully managed for timber, charcoal and game. They had seen little change until the 1950s when a high proportion of the woodland was cleared and replaced with fast growing commercial conifers, mainly from Europe and America. These non-native trees have had a negative impact on native wildlife, blocking light and lessening the habitats supported by native broadleaved woodlands. They have also grown much taller than the native trees, blocking breath-taking views across the River Avon. Ancient woodlands are now protected against felling and work across Scotland is now underway to restore Plantations on Ancient Woodland Sites (PAWS) – of which Chatelherault Country Park is one.

The remaining ancient woodland, one of the richest and most diverse habitats in Britain, supports thousands of species of animals, plants, fungi and micro-organisms. They are of national importance, forming part of Clyde Valley Woodlands National Nature Reserve (NNR) and specific parts within it having being designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and European Special Area for Conservation (SAC).

The Long Term Forest Plan lays out a 25 year schedule for conifer removal by felling, using modern harvesting machinery. The removal will take part in sections to minimise disruption to users of the park. Existing paths will be improved and a new path will be created through Meikle Glen to communities to the south and west of Hamilton, to allow for vehicle access. These paths will improve access across the park and offer a more varied range of circular walks, having a positive benefit on visitors and communities close to the park.

Although the felling will have an impact on the aesthetics of the area, the area’s fertile soils contain a rich seed bank that which means that natural tree regeneration is very rapid. Laverock Hill near Barncluith was felled in 2005 and by 2009, had already greened over and was covered with young, predominantly birch trees. By spring 2011, the whole area was covered with young woodland and was alive with birdsong. Over the next ten years, the regenerated birch will be thinned and spaced out to provide room for slower growing tree species, such as ash and oak.

Money raised by the sale of the conifer timber will go towards further improvements in the park such as path, bridge and access improvements, restoration of some of the neglected historic structures in the wider park, as well as the potential restoration of the White Bridge.

The plans are being led by South Lanarkshire Council and South Lanarkshire Leisure and Culture Ltd who are working with the Clyde and Avon Valley Landscape Partnership, Forestry Commission Scotland, Historic Scotland, Scottish Natural Heritage, Central Scotland Green Network Trust, Eammon Wall & Co and Land Use Consultants, to ensure that the project is developed in accordance with the best available advice and guidance, following best practice as set out in the UK Forestry Standard.

Tickets for Malcolm’s talk are £4 and this includes the chance to explore New Lanark’s current ‘Homecoming’ exhibition and a glass of wine or refreshment. Tickets can be booked in advance by calling 01555 661345, emailing [email protected], online or ‘on the door’ on the night. The talk is in Robert Owen’s School for Children at New Lanark, which is located past the waterwheel.

Sarah – New Lanark Guest Blogger from the Clyde and Avon Valley Landscape Partnership

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17/04/15 Talks at New Lanark # , , , , ,

Talking ‘Full Circle’ with Docey Lewis

Talking ‘Full Circle’ with Docey Lewis

We’re delighted to welcome to the New Lanark Blog, Docey Lewis – a direct descendant of Robert Owen. Ahead of her talk at New Lanark on Friday 24th April (£4 tickets available here) Docey has blogged for us with a taster of what she”ll be discussing…

What would Robert Owen have thought of corporate social responsibility, fair trade, employee-owned companies, carbon neutral product manufacturing, zero waste-to-landfill, LEED points and so many other modern business practices?

Imagine Robert Owen’s Facebook page or perhaps picture him debating Pope Francis or having a conversation with the Dalai Lama on YouTube. What would his Tweets say?

Would he oppose GMO foods, be a vegan, or demand organic cotton for his factories?

Would he be a champion of distance learning, work globally to educate women and girls? Would he be a pioneer on social, environmental and economic frontiers? Would he have found sympathetic investors through crowdfunding on Kickstarter or Indiegogo? Would his big ideas have spread virally, globally? What would his Ted Talk look like?

(Would Anne Caroline have enjoyed better health and accompanied Robert on his journeys?)

How much the world has changed since 1799 when Robert Owen arrived on the New Lanark scene. The technology revolution may have made the world seem a smaller place, but all our connectivity, productivity and mobility have exponentially multiplied the options for how and where to make one’s life and livelihood and how to spread one’s ideas.

Robert Owen’s impact on my life started in early childhood, when two of the books my grandmother read to me were Town of the Fearless and The Bekoning Road, both involving Robert Owen’s Utopian experiment in New Harmony, Indiana. I first visited New Harmony when I was ten years old, for the dedication of Philip Johnson’s Roofless Church. My first large weaving commission was in 1974 for the New Harmony Inn. I designed the wool yarn for and wove 60 bedspreads by hand on a wide fly shuttle loom. In 1967 my mother became active with the Cooperative League of the USA and until her death in 1983, traveled the world, lecturing on Robert Owen and the cooperative movement. She also wrote a book entitled Look to the Distaff which is a compilation of Owen family letters going back five generations. She wrote long letters to me about her numerous trips to New Lanark and New Harmony. And now, I find myself not only living in New Harmony, but making regular pilgrimages to New Lanark myself.

I’m so looking forward to sharing the story of “Full Circle,” the (mostly textile) design and development work being done in partnership with our international buyers and the producer groups we work closely with in the developing world. Robert Owen’s philosophy and big ideas have informed our work and continue to inspire us.

Full Circle Logo

Full Circle Logo


Docey Lewis – New Lanark Guest Blogger

Tickets for Docey’s talk at New Lanark on Friday 24th April are available to purchase by calling 01555 661345, emailing [email protected] or online.

Docey Lewis

Salleri Monastery School (Our program supports the meals for the boarding students)

Weavers@EAPFactory - The weavers are at our main woven wall covering factory in Kathmandu

Weavers @ EAPFactory – The weavers are at our main woven wall covering factory in Kathmandu

VocationalSchool- EAP (Everest Art Paper--our partner business in Nepal-- is in partnership with the World Food Programme and Himalayan Health and Environmental Services Solukhumbu (HESS) on running short term training programs

Vocational School- EAP (Everest Art Paper–our partner business in Nepal– is in partnership with the World Food Programme and Himalayan Health and Environmental Services Solukhumbu (HESS) on running short term training programs

HempYarnKnotters - Some of our cottage industry subcontractors for yarn preparation

Hemp Yarn Knotters – Some of our cottage industry subcontractors for yarn preparation

OwenLewis@vocationalschool - Training center in the mountains of Solukhumbu (Owen and I volunteer there 1-2 times per year); we design the curiculuum, teach, and then hire the trainees

Owen [email protected] – Training center in the mountains of Solukhumbu (Owen and I volunteer there 1-2 times per year); we design the curiculuum, teach, and then hire the trainees

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New Lanark World Heritage Site Aerial View

New Lanark is a beautifully restored 18th century cotton mill village in Scotland, and is one of Scotland's six UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

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