Circa 1789; link to Mill No 1 circa 1800-17; main building extended forwards (N) 1884-5. 5-storey and basement exposed by falling ground to S, 21-bay, rectangular-plan, flat-roofed block; gabled curved link to Mill 1, 3 bays to N and 8 to S. N elevation brick, elsewhere rubble with droved and stugged dressings. Dentilled eaves cornice and parapet to N elevation. Regular fenestration; segmental-arched windows to N with projecting cills; ashlar margins to S.
FURTHER DESCRIPTION: central bay to N elevation with loading doors (now boarded up) at each floor above ground level; top-floor opening now glazed around hoist. 2 semi-circular openings with timber-boarded doors to link section to Mill No 1. Brick link to Mill No 3 stepped back at far left. S (river) elevation with semi-circular wheel arch, now with 2-leaf timber-boarded door.
Predominantly 9-pane glazing to N elevation and 6-pane to S in timber framed windows with inward-tilting hoppers. Grey slates to link block to Mill 1.
INTERIOR: brick jack-arch construction supported on inverted T-section beaming and cast-iron columns. Tiled floors.
Statement of Special Interest
The monumental continuous wall of building formed by Mill No 1, the linking block and Mill No 2 are of prime importance in the New Lanark mill and village complex and make an impressive composition from many angles but particularly from the river side.
The extension to the front of Mill No 2 is of considerable historic interest. It was built in 1884-5 by Henry Birkmyre, owner of the Gourock Rope Company, who had bought the New Lanark mills in 1881 as a speculation. The extension is the main investment made by Birkmyre whilst running his Lanark Spinning Company in New Lanark. It was to accommodate ring frames using a single arch structural system. Birkmyre diversified the products the mills to produce woven fabric as well as spun cotton. 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. By the late 1880s the Gourock Rope Company had offices throughout Britain and S America, agents in Europe and Australia and mills in India and South Africa. The New Lanark buildings are among the last remaining upstanding factories to have been operated by the Gourock Ropework Company. The company left New Lanark in 1962.
The heating system in Mill No 2 was the invention of William Kelly, the Lanark clockmaker who, in conjunction with David Dale, experimented with different types of heating for the mills and other public buildings in New Lanark. The heating in Mill 2 is a refinement of the system in Mill No 1. Flue from stoves in the walls at ground level lead upwards through a succession of compartments built into the thickness of the wall and separated by iron plates. Each compartment was warmed by a flue and the flow of hot air controlled by valves.
New Lanark was a pioneering cotton-spinning village, which became a model for industrial communities that was to spread across the world in the 19th and 20th centuries and is recognised as being of outstanding importance historically and in visual terms because of its completeness and its physical form. Elements of sophisticated early town planning are evidenced in the orchestration of the various components in the village, from the mill weir, its lade and tunnel to south, to the tunnels and sluices leading off to the individual mills, the crucially generous circulation spaces, gardens, tailored walks and viewing points realised from the start. It is surrounded by an incomparable natural and designed landscape, the mill buildings sitting on the natural terrace to the east of the River Clyde in this deeply incised, wooded river valley.
Built to exploit the water power offered by the Falls of Clyde, the mills were in operation from 1786 to 1968. The mill village is made up of industrial, residential and community buildings, dating predominantly from between 1786 and the 1820s. It was founded by David Dale, a Glasgow merchant, in conjunction with Richard Arkwright, a trailblazing inventor of the cotton spinning industry whose patents enabled operation on a considerable scale. Dale's humane philosophy, realised from the start in the buildings of New Lanark, was expanded by Robert Owen, who took over management of the mill village in partnership from 1799. Owen created an environment where child labour and corporal punishment were abolished, and provided workers with good homes, education and free health care as well as affordable food. He had a profound influence on social developments such as factory reform throughout the 19th century.
Within World Heritage Site inscribed 2001.
List description updated 2010.