New Lanark (2001)
Scotland -- Great Britain

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Great Britain 1989. World Cultural Heritage. New Lanark, Scotland.

New Lanark is a small village set in a beautiful Scottish landscape where the philanthropist and Utopian idealist Robert Owen established a model industrial community in the early 19th century. 

The imposing mill buildings, the spacious and well-designed workers’ housing, and the educational institute and school still testify to Owen’s humanism. 

  • Great Britain 1989.  Industrial Archeology.  New Lanark, Scotland.  (ordinary issue in vertical design). 

New Lanark is located in Strathclyde in the southern part of Scotland, southwest of Edinburgh.  

The above stamp exists also in a horizontal design, included in a sheet that was sold for a premium being used for the Stamp World London 90 International Stamp Exhibition.

Great Britain 1989. World Cultural Heritage. Souvenir sheet froom New Lanark, Scotland, containing the 32p stamp in the lower left corner.
  • Great Britain 1989.  Souvenir sheet containing the 32p stamp in the lower left corner.  Note that the Queen's Head is printed in red, instead of bluish on the ordinary vertical issue. See also the site about Ironbridge

Robert Owen (1771-1858) the son of a saddler and ironmonger, became one of the most successful mill owners of the Industrial Revolution with a reputation as the producer of fine cotton. However, it was not as a successful and respected businessman that he left his mark on history, but as one of the most prominent social reformers of the period, a pioneer of modern British socialism and a source of inspiration to the co-operative and trade union movements. 

Born on May 14, 1771, in Newtown, Wales, Owen was the youngest son of the village postmaster. At the age of nine he was apprenticed to a draper's shop, and he quickly gained knowledge of fabrics. By the time he was 18 he had managed to save and borrow for investment in the manufacture of textile machinery. Two years later, by bluff and pluck, he obtained the position of manager in a Manchester textile mill. In 1799 he bought factory holdings in New Lanark, Scotland, marrying the seller's daughter in the bargain. 

Great Britain 1976. Social Reformers. "Machinery". Robert Owen.

An original thinker, a man of imagination, philanthropist, visionary and idealist, but above all Robert Owen had the strength to try and realise his ideals. Being an utopian socialist, he is generally considered the father of the cooperative movement.

In the set "Social Reformers" England issued in 1976 one stamp of 10p commemorating Robert Owen. 

  • Great Britain 1976.  Social Reformers.  "Machinery". 

New Lanark gained international fame when Owen's experiments in enhancing his workers' environment resulted in increased productivity and profit. Owen had become convinced that the advancement of humankind could be furthered by the improvement of every individual's personal environment. Character, he reasoned, was molded by circumstances; improved circumstances would lead to goodness. The environment at New Lanark reflected this philosophy. In 1825, to advance his theories concerning human labor as the “natural standard of value,” he purchased 8100 hectares (20,000 acres) of land in Illinois and Indiana as a site for a model communal village, New Harmony. The volunteer population for this experiment, however, was assembled all too hastily, and despite Owen's periodic visits to restore the initial enthusiasm, adherence to the communal constitution was soon abandoned. By 1828 New Harmony had been reduced to a travesty of its utopian ideal, and Owen sold the land at a loss of four-fifths of his total fortune. Although he later contemplated other such projects, they never came to fruition.

Owen's fame led him to meet many important people. This enabled him to convey his ideas, many of which were viewed with suspicion or indifference, to such personages as Queen Victoria of England, Grand Duke Nicholas of Russia, President Antonio López de Santa Anna of Mexico, and President Andrew Jackson of the United States. In later years Owen frequently participated in socialist congresses, and he wrote extensively. His Book of the New Moral World (written in seven parts between 1826 and 1844) contains the most complete statement of his doctrines. In 1833 Owen helped found the first British trade union, which soon failed. His ideas, however, bore fruit in the international cooperative movement, launched at Rochdale, England, in 1844. Owen died on November 17, 1858, in his hometown, Newtown.

Sources and Links: 

Other World Heritage Sites in Great Britain (on this site). Inactive links are not described on postage stamps. Please refer to the UNESCO-listing, United Kingdom Section, for further information about the individual properties. 

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Revised 19 jul 2006  
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