New Lanark - Robert Owen

Background

Robert Owen was the founder of New Lanark, a Scottish cotton mill in which he implemented a model utopian community.

Owen was not afraid of controversy and at times seemed deliberately to court it. He regarded New Lanark as a living demonstration of the ways in which the evils of poverty, social disadvantage and ignorance could be overcome through imaginative education, fair discipline, regular work, good housing and health care.

Owen set out his case for radical social reform in 'A New View of Society: Essays on the Principle of the Formation of the Human Character' (1813). The publication was a protest against the condition of the British poor - three quarters of the population - and a call for educational, industrial and social reform.

Owen argued that a person's character is formed by circumstances over which he has no control.

Own believed that harsh conditions in factories were damaging to people. He felt that machines should serve the people, rather than the other way around.

New Lanark was developed as a model village. The community became a place of pilgrimage for his followers from many countries.

Many reformers are open to criticism and Owen was no exception. There were even those in New Lanark who considered him interfering and autocratic.

Taken from: The New Views of Mr Owen of Lanark
Author / Creator: Henry Gray MacNab
Date: 1819
Copyright: By permission of the British Library Board
Shelfmark: 959.e.8