Here in New Lanark we are surrounded by tenement buildings which are rich in history and each have their own story. For example, Caithness Row was named after the highlanders who came to settle and work in New Lanark when their ship, intended for America, was brought into Greenock due to weather damage. David Dale had heard of this and sent a representative to Greenock to offer jobs and a place to live. Housing has always been a key feature here in New Lanark as David Dale offered free housing with good living conditions for their time, which was uncommon in this era. David Dale’s generosity was simply due to the fact that he believed those who worked in New Lanark should live in New Lanark because of the remote distance in which it is located. It was not practical to travel to New Lanark. All of the buildings in New Lanark have been restored today in their own unique way, for example, Robert Owens house has been renovated to look like what it once was when Mr Owen and his family lived there in 1799.
Double Row is the only building on the site which is yet to be restored. The riverside building has been empty and redundant for the past 42 years, however, is currently undergoing a restoration process and is set to be finished by December, 2016. The first 7 tenements will be town houses which are available to purchase and design inside. However, the 8th tenement, also known as the Museum Stair, which is now a Scheduled Monument will be interpreted in a CAVE (Computer Aided Virtual Environment) in a part of the New Lanark Visitor Centre so visitors can virtually experience being in a ‘room within a room’ throughout the decades of Double Row’s inhabitation.
Today we went on a ‘Hard Hat’ tour of Double Row and had an opportunity to view the restoration work so far. We were able to walk up the scaffolding which is currently surrounding the building and were lucky enough to view inside to see the layout of the tenements. We were also treated to some beautiful views of the Clyde! When inside Double Row you are able to view the 5 stories of each tenement and can visually imagine what it used to look like as the outline of the fireplaces are still visible. With the help of modern day technology, the Museum Stair will have a 3D tour which will allow visitors to view a digital version of what life was like in the past and you will even receive a guided tour from David Dale himself… well, with a little help from technology of course.
We were able to speak to the Land Engineering contractors who are in charge of the restoration work who explained what they had to do in order to restore the building.
Double Row was renovated partly in the past, around the mid-80’s, however, that was only to keep the building standing. Building conservation methods have advanced since then so the workmen have to change the tiles on the roof to match the modern day style. This is a long and strenuous process and has taken time to change the roofing slates and also to clear the debris left inside.
We look forward to seeing the restored Double Row later in the year. Here are some more photos from our Hard Hat Tour of Double Row…
Ronan Moore – New Lanark Marketing Intern
You can find out more about the Double Row Restoration Project on the New Lanark website.