The story of New Lanark until Robert Owen's departure in 1824 can be found on the Early History & Robert Owen page. After his departure, Owen's role in New Lanark was taken over by Charles and Henry Walker, sons of one of Owen's Quaker partners, John Walker. For the following 50 years they ran the mills and the village much as Owen would have done.
In 1881 New Lanark was sold to Henry Birkmyre of the Gourock Ropemaking Company. He and his successors understood why New Lanark had been so successful and sought to maintain the social patterns that underpinned that success.
They did, however, diversify the activity at New Lanark. As well as spinning cotton as before, the cotton was now also woven on site. Products to emerge included deck chair covers, canvas for a wide range of military uses, and even the material for the big top of Bertram Mills Circus. Mill workers were given concessionary tickets when the circus came to Lanark.
Ropes and fishing nets were also now produced at New Lanark, and workers and their families were brought in from Ireland and the Isle of Man to add their skills, and cultures, to the mix already in the village. The mills continued to depend on the power of the River Clyde, though water wheels were finally replaced by water turbines, the last working until 1929. Auxiliary steam power was also introduced from the 1880s.
Over the years, the density of the population living in New Lanark diminished from its height in the mid 1800s. In 1861 one single-room dwelling in New Buildings was home to a couple, their four children, a sister-in-law and two lodgers.
Later it was normal for homes to comprise several rooms. In 1933 houses were fitted with kitchen sinks and a cold water tap, and in the same year the old communal outside toilets were replaced with "stairheid cludgies" on landings.
Electricity had been supplied free to all homes in New Lanark from 1898: one dim bulb in each room, all controlled from the generator building and all switched off at 10.00pm each night, or 11.00pm on Saturdays. Problems were increasingly caused by villagers tapping into this supply to power radios and irons, and in 1955 the New Lanark was finally connected to the national grid.
A Housing Association was formed in 1963 to refurbish homes in Caithness Row and Nursery Buildings, but work came to a halt when the Gourock Rope Company announced the closure of the mills and the loss of the final 350 jobs in 1968.
In 1970 the site was sold to a company who extracted aluminium from scrap metal: but only a few jobs were created and the village rapidly came to resemble a scrapyard. Meantime the resident population had shrunk to 80.
Concerns about the future of New Lanark grew and in 1974 the New Lanark Conservation Trust was formed. They appointed a Director, Jim Arnold, who remains in post today, and work began to restore the village. This was seen as a last chance for New Lanark short of complete demolition.
The transformation of New Lanark over the past 30 years has been spectacular. Particularly dramatic transformations have been effected to Mill 1, which was rebuilt to its original height and converted into the New Lanark Mill Hotel; and to Robert Owen's School, which was derelict and partly roofless by the 1970s.
Elsewhere in the village, "Wee Row" has been converted into a 60 bed Youth Hostel. And much of the rest of the housing has been converted into 45 Housing Association tenancies and 20 owner-occupied houses. The resident population of New Lanark now exceeds 200, and businesses together offering over 100 jobs use space within the restored mill complex.
All this is combined with an attraction drawing some 500,000 visitors per year. The achievements at New Lanark were recognised when it was accorded World Heritage Status on 14 December 2001.