Part One . 1786 to 1813 . Why the Mill was built and why the Weavers played such a vital part in Scotland's changing society .
The part played by many weavers in the fight for equality fair representation both here in Scotland and indeed in the North of England has been much underplayed . The " Radical War " of 1820 again featured weavers as the main characters.
The new enterprise required a considerable labour force and some 80 families were
" recruited " from the Highland counties of Scotland . This again was utilising a somewhat desperate situation to benefit the entrepreneurs . These families were, by and large , the victims of the notorious clearances which have cast a dark shadow over our past history .
In Perthshire , the Clearance had involved the Atholl and Breadalbane Estates , when families had been evicted from their tenanted homes to make way for the more profitable sheep farming.
By 1795 some 350 people were working at the Stanley Mills . Of this 350 persons some 300 were women and children under 16 years of age .
Arkwright's involvement with Stanley had ceased in 1787 . The Mill however
thrived until a double " whammy " hit it in quick succession . The French Revolution and the ensuing wars had a serious effect on trading creating an economic slump . On top of this set back , there was a serious fire in the East Mill forcing the Mills to close down .
The Mills were bought in 1801 by James Craig, a Glasgow muslin manufacturer for
£4, 600 . Craig was bank rolled by David Dale , the " father " of the Scottish cotton industry and founder of the mills at New Lanark .Stanley was at this time managed by Robert Owen , Dale's son in law .
Owen was a Welsh social reformer who had met and married Dale's daughter .He ran the Mill in New Lanark prior to coimg to Stanley . At New Lanark , about 2,000 people had associations with the mills, 500 of whom were children brought at the age of five or six from the poorhouses and charities of Edinburgh and Glasgow. The children were well treated by Dale, but the general condition of the people was unsatisfactory. Many of the workers were in the lowest levels of the population; theft, drunkenness, and other vices were common; education and sanitation were neglected; and most families lived in one room. The respectable country people refused to submit to the long hours and demoralising drudgery of the mills.
Although Owen achieved renown as a social reformer , his acumen as a mill manager was perhaps not quite as able . The Stanley Mills closed down in 1813 with debts totalling some £ 40 000 .
Part Two : This covers the re opening of the mill in 1826 and traces its history through to its eventual closure in 1989 .