A short drive south-west of Edinburgh takes you through rolling hills and agricultural landscapes, nestled in which you can find New Lanark, one of Scotland's six UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
It showcases a particular aspect of Scotland's industrial heritage, and as such is worth a visit to glimpse an alternative to the more immediately readily recognised aspects of Scottish history - such as the Jacobites, Mary, Queen of Scots, or the Highland Clearances...
So here's my brief introduction to this intriguing, accessible and important heritage site.
New Lanark became a vital part of Scotland's journey through the Industrial Revolution, a period roughly spanning the years 1760 to 1840.
In this time the mechanisation of manufacturing, farming and commercial processes - which had previously required significant numbers of hand labourers - saw the transformation of the UK's urban and rural areas, as factories and mills grew up to harness the new forms of power which allowed business to boom.
The town of New Lanark was initially established in 1785, to provide housing and accommodation for the workers at the new cotton mill which had been set up by David Dale on the edge of the River Clyde. At its mouth in Glasgow the Clyde would become one of the UK's most important trading ports and shipyards, but further inland the water was a valuable power source, harnessed by developers like Richard Arkwright, who had invented a device which could spin raw cotton into usable fibres, using the power of water.
By the 1790s Dale had around 1,400 people working in the mills at New Lanark, producing cloth and fibre that could be exported across the UK and abroad - it was big business, and Dale became wealthy from expanding his business interests with other mills across Scotland. Workers at New Lanark would work 13-hour days.
Despite how this sounds today, quality of life at New Lanark was considered to be better than at many other industrial centres around the UK at that time, and the welfare of children in particular was something that was noted - it was this aspect of life at New Lanark which would come to the fore when Dale sold the site to his son-in-law Robert Own in 1799.
Owen was renowned as a businessman and entrepreneur, and at New Lanark he saw the opportunity to develop a kind of industrial reform - later known as utopian socialism - which explored the possibility that commercial success didn't have to come through the exploitation of workers.
Under Owen's leadership the village of New Lanark grew to around 2,500 people - including around 500 children, for whom he opened the UK's first infants' school.
Children were educated to the age of 12, as well as being employed in the mills from the age of 10, and all workers paid a small portion of their wages into a welfare fund that would support those in the village who were sick or unable to work for brief periods.
Owen reduced the number of hours worked by his employees to 'just' 10.5 hours a day (!) and he believed in the importance of a pleasant environment for people's happiness and welfare - allotments were provided for villagers to grow their own vegetables.
The increased cost of Owen's welfare vision was opposed by his business partners, and so in 1813 he bought out the other investors in the mill operation in order to be able to operate on the principles that he felt were important.
Many of the buildings at New Lanark still serve as housing for local people, but one of the properties has been opened to give visitors a sense of the living conditions for people in the 19th century.
Entire families would be accommodated in just a single room, with children sleeping in beds that could be stored under the adults' beds to save space. Some were lucky enough (eventually) to have indoor toilets... New Lanark wasn't connected to the National Grid - providing homes with a reliable supply of electricity - until 1955.
Owen also lived on-site with his family, although as mill owner his home was rather more luxurious than that of the workers, with an office and library space, separate dining rooms and lounge spaces, a kitchen on the lower floors, and separate bedrooms above.
But the heart of New Lanark are the original mill buildings, where it is still possible to sense what daily life might have been like for the people who toiled here.
Visitors can enjoy a short multimedia ride which introduces Annie Macleod, a young girl who describes what life was like for those who lived and worked at New Lanark.
One of the buildings still operates as a functioning mill, creating wool which is shipped out and sold, and if the clatter of the modern machinery is anything to go by, the noise in these cavernous floors, filled with machinery and workers, must have been deafening.
Visitors can access a new roof garden at the very top of the mill building, where the views along the river and into the wooded areas on either side of the valley create a tremendous sense of the rural isolation in which New Lanark was established. A cafe offers refreshments and there's even an on-site hotel for those who want to experience modern luxury with a hint of industrial heritage.
Robert Owen sold New Lanark in 1825, but the mills continued commercial operations until 1968. Despite being scheduled for demolition in the 1970s a heritage trust was established to preserve New Lanark as a historic space, and it was formally inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2001.
As well as exploring the village and mill buildings, take a walk along the winding pathways beside the banks of the river to view the Falls of Clyde, a series of spectacular waterfalls including the falls of Corra Linn which were painted by JM Turner and visited by the likes of Walter Scott, and Dorothy and William Wordsworth. It's a great way to get a sense of how the natural landscape has been colonised by the human experience.
Because of the rural location it's not easy to get to New Lanark without a car - it's about an hour's drive from Edinburgh, making it a good option for an afternoon trip away from the city.
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