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Friday, January 6, 2012

A Day Trip South of Edinburgh

Our ‘good-bye’ to Dave was a short one.  We did a day trip to some areas south of Edinburgh, to a place that would have been a bit difficult for us to find.

On our way out we stopped to look at the Forth Bridge (built in 1890) over the Firth of Forth.  (You don’t even want to know the blethering the guys did on that one… they sounded like the “Swedish Chef” Muppet! ) 

It is quite a famous railroad bridge.  There is a photo of it on a twenty pound note and a one pound coin.  Here’s what the Wikipedia says about it:  “The bridge is, even today, regarded as an engineering marvel.  It is 2.5 kilometres (1.6 mi) in length, and the double track is elevated 46 metres (151 ft) above high tide. It consists of two main spans of 521.3 metres (1,710 ft), two side spans of 207.3 metres (680 ft), and 15 approach spans of 51.2 metres (168 ft).   Each main span comprises two 207.3 metres (680 ft) cantilever arms supporting a central 106.7 metres (350 ft) span truss. The three great four-tower cantilever structures are 100.6 metres (330 ft) tall, each 21 metres (70 ft) diameter foot resting on a separate foundation.[10] The southern group of foundations had to be constructed as caissons under compressed air, to a depth of 27 metres (90 ft).  At its peak, approximately 4,600 workers were employed in its construction.”

On our way we drove through more lovely villages. 

Our destination was New Lanark.  This village isn’t just a location… it is an idea AND an ideal.  I’m going to let the Wikipedia explain it, as it will much more concise than my ramblings.  

“It was founded in 1786 by David Dale, who built cotton mills and housing for the mill workers. Dale built the mills there to take advantage of the water power provided by the river. Under the ownership of a partnership that included Dale's son-in-law, Robert Owen, a Welsh philanthropist and social reformer, New Lanark became a successful business and an epitome of utopian socialism.  

Dale sold the mills, lands and village in the early 19th century for £60,000, payable over 20 years, to a partnership that included his son-in-law Robert Owen. Owen was an industrialist who carried on his father-in-law's philanthropic approach to industrial working and who subsequently became an influential social reformer. New Lanark, with its social and welfare programmes, epitomized his Utopian socialism.  

In Owen's time some 2,500 people lived at New Lanark, many from the poorhouses of Glasgow and Edinburgh. Although not the grimmest of mills by far, Owen found the conditions unsatisfactory and resolved to improve the workers' lot. He paid particular attention to the needs of the 500 or so children living in the village (one of the tenement blocks is named Nursery Buildings) and working at the mills, and opened the first infants' school in Britain in 1816.  

The mills thrived commercially, but Owen's partners were unhappy at the extra expense incurred by his welfare programmes. Unwilling to allow the mills to revert back to the old ways of operating, Owen bought out his partners.  

New Lanark became celebrated throughout Europe, with many leading royals, statesmen and reformers visiting the mills. They were astonished to find a clean, healthy industrial environment with a content, vibrant workforce and a prosperous, viable business venture all rolled into one. Owen’s philosophy was contrary to contemporary thinking, but he was able to demonstrate that it was not necessary for an industrial enterprise to treat its workers badly to be profitable. Owen was able to show visitors the village’s excellent housing and amenities, and the accounts showing the profitability of the mills.  

As well as the mills' connections with reform, socialism and welfare, they are also representative of the Industrial Revolution that occurred in Britain in the 18th and 19th centuries and which fundamentally altered the shape of the world.  

In 1825, control of New Lanark passed to the Walker family. The Walkers managed the village until 1881, when it was sold to Birkmyre and Sommerville. They and their successor companies remained in control until the mills closed in 1968.  

After the mills closed people started to move away from the village, and the buildings began to deteriorate. In 1963 the New Lanark Association (NLA) was formed as a housing association and commenced the restoration of Caithness Row and Nursery Buildings. In 1970 the mills, other industrial buildings and the houses used by Dale and Owen were sold to Metal Extractions Limited, a scrap metal company. In 1974 the NLCT was founded to prevent demolition of the village. A compulsory purchase order was used in 1983 to recover the mills and other buildings from Metal Extractions. They are now controlled by the NLCT. By 2005 most of the buildings have been restored and the village has become a major tourist attraction.  

It has been estimated that over 400,000 people visit the village each year. The importance of New Lanark has been recognized by UNESCO as one of Scotland's five World Heritage Sites, the others being Edinburgh Old and New Towns, Heart of Neolithic Orkney, St Kilda and the Antonine Wall.”

The River Clyde that powered the mills.

Himself enjoying the sounds of the rushing water.

One of the huge mill engines.

The church.

The main room of the school.   

I found Owen’s ideas of education a bit strange and self profiting.   The school was open to children from 18 months (weaning) to age 10-12 at which time “they went on to work in the mill”.   

The children were required to wear uniforms of little white robes.  They received a formal education of music, literature, and dance and were often required to perform for the visitors to the village.  

To me – it felt as tho the children were favored ‘pets’ trained for his amusement until they could be sent to work at often dangerous jobs in his mills.  This part of New Lanark left me feeling somewhat put off.

One of the restored buildings.

On the rooftop garden.  It has really nothing to do with New Lanark but it is quite lovely.  I love this carved barn owl. 

The village had its own “company store”.  While the people were not required to shop there, part of their pay was “credit” in the store.  For the most part, it was cheaper than buying other places.

The mill families lived in one room tenement housing.  The ‘kitchen’ area and living area was on one side of the room.

And on the other was the sleeping area.  This shows the trundle beds.

Contrasted by the house that Owen lived in… with the many large rooms.

Comfortable dining area.  

Overall, I found it very interesting.  The exhibits on how yarn is made are fantastic and the Owens idea of social reform are worth think about. 

Our next stop was at Rosslyn Chapel. 

I’d heard it was beautiful with a lot of unique stone carvings. 

Some of the carvings were indeed very beautiful.

There was a lot of detail in the figures.

I think this is of John writing his gospel.

Himself said the stones reminded him of Petra.

Beautiful flower carvings.  

However, Rosslyn Chapel overall left me feeling very ‘creeped out’.  Many of the carvings on the inside were of demons, skeletons/death, pagan symbols, and such.  The most famous carving – a pillar – tells the story of jealousy and murder.  All mixed in with symbols and carvings of Christ.  

To me, it was the epitome of what should NOT be in a Christian church.  I was happy to leave and felt very quiet and heavy spirited for a while after being there.

To lighten the mood, we went off for some fine dining at a very famous Scottish named eating establishment! 

Two Happy Meals equal a double cheese burger, medium fries and large coke.  And I have the toys for the babies! 

What was it like?  The food isn’t as salty as American.  The fries are crisper and better!  The soda is served without ice.  And there is no sweet tea!!  (And after 3 weeks… this Southern Girl was looking forward to some sweet tea!!!) 

Leaving there, I saw something that made my heart dance a bit…

A TJ Maxx store!!!  Except in Scotland it is TK Maxx. 

Same thing tho!

Dave had never been to one.  I caught him looking at the men’s sweaters.  Methinks he liked what he saw!  LOL

Of course I found something… a pretty shawl with a Celtic pattern.  

After that, Dave took us back to the guest house and we said our real good-byes.  

Thanks Dave and Maureen for a GREAT trip and all the extra little things you did to make it special.

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