Children & Cotton Learning Zone for Social Studies & Citizenship
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This information resource has been designed to support learning about key social studies themes related to the study of New Lanark. This resource is intended to provide useful historical context and background to commonly studied topics for visiting education groups.The key topics included are:

  • The Industrial Revolution
  • Development of the cotton industry in Britain during the 19th century
  • Working in a cotton mill - conditions, wages, hours of work, discipline 
  • Child labour in mills in the 19th century
  • Working and living in New Lanark during the Industrial Revolution
  • Robert Owen's Model Community at New Lanark
  • Child labour in the cotton industry today
  • Child rights in the past and today
  • Fairtrade and cotton

A range of information sources are provided, including primary material. A comprehensive list of links to primary sources included in the resource about New Lanark is available below. There is also a selection of activities available for download throughout the site which aim to consolidate knowledge and information provided in the resource. A list of these is available here also. 

The resource also seeks to enhance the Citizenship curriculum by providing simple studies of children's rights over time, and an investigation of child labour today. This includes consideration of Fairtrade and cotton, co-operatives and the Millennium Development Goals.These have been included to provide opportunities for comparative projects. There is also a Case Study: A Cotton Bag Story. This tells the story of the development of the Co-operative Group's Fairtrade cotton bags.

Further tools such as a picture gallery, timeline and glossary are available on the Pupil Page. To find further good quality resources online check the Further Resources page. 

Curriculur Links

This resource is suitable for Second Level+ in the Curriculum for Excellence. It aims to support experiences and outcomes in Literacy & Numeracy across Learning, and Social Studies: People, past events & societies [SOC 2.01a - 2.06a incl. subsequent levels] and People in society, economy & business [SOC 2.15a,2.17a,2.20a incl. subsequent levels]

How is the resource organised?

The resource is simply organised in title chapters displayed on the left menu. Within these are related sub-topics that appear within the selected title section on the right hand menu. For example:

Child Labour in the Past >    contains 3 sub-sections:
The Cotton Industry
The Cotton Journey
Jobs in the Mills

Within each sub-section topic pages can be found. For example, within the sub-section:
The Cotton Industry > 
there are topic pages on:
The Industrial Revolution
Powering the Mills
The Age of Invention.


How to use the resource

You can use the resource in a variety of ways:

  • Use the complete resource - working through each title chapter listed on the left menu in turn from Child Labour in the Past to Fairtrade & Cotton.
  • Chronological study - Have changes taken place over time?  Look at Child Labour in the Past & Today and/or Rights Chapters.
  • Historical study - New Lanark in the context of general conditions of the Industrial Revolution - Look at Child Labour in the Past & New Lanark Case Study Chapters
  • Comparative study of New Lanark and other Mills, or Child Labour in the Past & Today - as above
  • A simple reference source - background reading for a local or specific topic study.

Use the menu bar on the left hand side to move between topic sections.
Use the menu on the right hand side to move within sub-sections of a topic.
On the PUPIL PAGE there is also a clickable topic list:

Guide to icons

 Return to the top of the page

 Click to enlarge image or document.
Although most images can be enlarged if clicked on directly. 

or  Access a related activity. Opens in pdf.

Primary Sources

Account of an American visitor to New Lanark School, 1819
Daily life of a New Lanark Pauper Apprentice
David Dale's job advert for New Lanark Mills, c.1790
David Dale's letter to the Manchester Board of Health, 1796
Dr McNab's Account of meeting a New Lanark mill worker
Excerpt from the Emancipation Proclamation, 1862
Factory Commission Report about New Lanark, 1833
New Lanark Cotton Order Book, 1818
New Lanark Medical Record, 1833
New Lanark Work Manager's Notebook
Personal account of processing cotton at New Lanark 20th Century
Personal account of a visit to New Lanark, 1798
Personal accounts of mill workers: Jobs in the mills
Personal accounts of apprentice workers in mills
Personal accounts of mill accidents and working conditions
Report of The Fortune Shipwreck from the 1st Statistical Account of Scotland, 1793
Robert Owen's Rules for the Inhabitants of New Lanark
Robert Owen's Views on Slavery
The working day of child workers in New Lanark (1816) and Lancashire (1832)
Views of enslaved people on cotton plantations
Wages in New Lanark and Manchester, 1833


  List of all activities linked within the resource in relevant sections
 Industrial Revolution  Quiz and Answers
   Cotton Town Map Study
 Power  Build your own water-wheel
   How Big? Measuring and Comparing
   Discussion: The Pollut-o-meter
 Age of Invention  Design your own invention
   Match the inventor
 Cotton  Design your own outfit
   Through the Mill Sequencing
   From Field to Mill Creative Writing
  Mills  Using Sources - Jobs at New Lanark
   Using Sources - Child workers at New Lanark
   Apprentices - All in a Day's Work - sequencing & interpretation
   Roleplay - Interview Aggie
   Discussion of working conditions using the personal accounts
 New Lanark  The Model Village - Map Activity
   Make your own Silent Monitor
   The Spinning Mule Quiz
    A Day in 1820s School Life
   Discussion - Mr Owen's Rules
   Living in New Lanark
   Using Sources - New Lanark Census Records
   Shopping in the Village Store
 Child labour today  Discussion - Use the sources to discuss working children 
 in the cotton industry today
   Children's Stories
   Discussion - Use the sources to discuss reasons for child labour
   The Good and Bad of Work
   Discussions - Why is education important?
 What are the Millennium Development Goals?
 Rights in the past  Discussion - Work v School 
 Compare sources - Arguments for & against child labour
   Debate - Child labour 
 Support material:
Against / For
 Rights today  Discussions - Rules, Responsibilities and Rights 
Identifying rights we have
   What we have a right to ..
   Legal limits
   What do rights and education mean to you?
   The UN Convention
   Living in Poverty Activities
   Discussion - Working for the rights of others - historical figures
   Campaigning for children's rights today - mini research project
   Discussion - Can you make a difference in your community?
   What makes a good citizen?
 Fairtrade and cotton  What is fair and unfair trade?
   Benefits of fairtrading
   Teacher-led - Fairtrade products
   Discussion - What does co-operation mean?
   Can you co-operate Activity
   Robert Owen: Forward Thinker
 Cotton bag study . . . .  Pondicherry Map Activity
   Observation and discussion - At the cotton bag factory
   Design your own cotton bag


Additional Downloads

Downloadable versions of information in the resource
About the New Lanark Spinning Mule
Cotton Town Map
Glossary of the Factory Acts
How do you power machines from water?
How Fairtrade has helped people in communities -their stories
Map of cotton mills and cotton towns in Britain
Map of location of New Lanark in Scotland
Plan of New Lanark tenement housing
Power Facts about New Lanark
Rope drive diagram - New Lanark
Turbine diagram - New Lanark
Slavery Statistics 
Reasons for child labour today

This site has been created for educational purposes to facilitate learning about New Lanark and related topics. Wherever possible we have sought approval for use of, referenced and acknowledged the source of material. We are grateful to the range of organisations featured for their contributions  to this resoure.

Please contact us if there is an issue relating to the content of this educational resource or you have an enquiry relating to the use of an  image relating to New Lanark:

New Lanark: A Case Study
Child Labour in the Past
Child Labour Today
Fairtrade & Cotton 

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New Lanark World Heritage Site
South Lanarkshire, Scotland, ML11 9DB
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