Anne Lister diary transcriptions Anne Lister's diary 1828 Anne Lister's diary June 1828

Monday 9 June 1828

4 35/60

One last night. Off from Buchanan Street Hotel at 5½. Only one coach, the Independent, goes from Glasgow to Lanark (on its way to Carlisle) at 6 a.m. Could not have inside places. Poor Miss McL-! Had not laughed so heartily for long as on seeing her mount behind the coach man. I got on the box with him & we were off at 6. [1] Pass 2 or 3 neatish villages, then Motherwell ditto, then at 8 10/60 change horses (1st time) at Wishaw (16 miles from Glasgow), a long pretty looking village. Very neat white freestone, ashlerstone blue slated cottages. New cottages of the same stone darkened by age & very neatly straw thatched. The houses, with 1 or 2 exceptions, only 1 story high. About 2 miles from Wishaw entrance up the new road, finished about 8 years ago, to Stirling. Quite on the high ground, what we should call in Yorkshire a plain road. Cold & bleak in winter along the heights but an excellent road. Pass several good bridges over deep, finely wooded & very picturesque glens or ravines & lastly, at 9½ (about ¾ miles from Lanark), the fine 3 (not 4 as mentioned in the Scottish Tourist) arched bridge (the coachman said 130 feet; vid. Scottish Tourist 193/415 – 146 feet high) of the Cartland crags over the Mouse, which falls into the Clyde about a mile below Lanark. The banks of the Mouse, or crags, 400 feet high (192/415).

Image from Stage-coach and mail in days of yore : a picturesque history of the coaching age, 1900, by Charles G. Harper

Alight at the Clydesdale Hotel, Lanark at 9 40/60. A newly repaired, if not newly built, bustling coach house. Not a private parlour at liberty. As soon as the coach passengers were [word missing here?], took their places & breakfasted. Then getting a guide (a boy about 14) from the inn as guide, set off at 11 5/60 to the falls. [2] On passing the 2nd entrance gate at 11¾ into the grounds of Lady Mary Ross of Bonniton, obliged to leave our guide to wait for us & let a woman from the lodge pilot us about. At 11 50/60 at the Corra Linn. Grounds very beautiful. Fine fall to one who has not been in Switzerland. Water falls into a large rock girt basin. The richly wooded scenery very beautiful. Good view from the pavilion. 3 steps of fall. The 1st very small. The distance between the 2nd & 3rd too great. It seems 30 yards. Not much water. The distant country bleakish hill. The scenery immediately about the Corra Linn very pretty. Highly picturesque. The gable-end of the old ruined castle finely nodding over the fall (north). 10 minutes walking slowly up the hill from our first station of view of the Corra Linn to the place of abode & where going to. Then 10 minutes from the pavilion to the next station from which a view of the Bonniton Linn. Very pretty scene thro’ the high perpendicular banks of the river. Left Miss McL- there & in 10 minutes more walked (quickish) up to the fall. Find it divided by a rock. A wooden bridge to this rock on the green rounded summit of which a tree (lime or plane benched round?). Miss McL- saw me stand (SA) there tho’ I did not distinguish her. The river, smooth & broadish above the falls, glides along the well-wooded bank of Lady Mary Ross’s grounds close to the house, which is, however, quite hid. Very pretty here. Return to Miss McL-. The girl took us a lower and much prettier way back than coming. Went into Balfour of Burlay’s cave (who at the head of the covenanters assisted in the murder of archbishop Sharpe) at 12¾. [3] A little dry round hole in the rock close over the river. A little below was formerly a draw bridge. By & by from the lower road best view of the Corra Linn. Sweet, pretty spot. Back to our guide at 1 10/60.

Corra Linn. Photo by Dave Souza.

Got to New Lannark (very pretty walk) at 1 40/60. Could not see the school till 3. [4] Sat waiting & I sleeping in the porter’s lodge till 3 20/60, having before put in our names & address “Paris” & thus getting permission to be shewn all over by one of the clerks who, in ¾ hour, shewed us the schools & cotton mills. 1st room [believe] for little children who learn nothing, or learn the alphabet. The little things would come up & shake hands with us, seeming to be completely got off all shyness towards their elders and their betters. Then reading school. Apparently on the Bill’s system. Then geography. Girls & boys 10 to 12 learning the distances, magnitudes & motions of the planets, their room painted round in compartments of geography (2 immense globes), natural history, minerology, conchology, etc etc. Then to the dancing school where the children seemed to be the different keys and learning the theory of singing with the gamut painted on the end of the room. Instrumental music, & some other things formerly taught, now given up. The school goes on, but Mr Owen’s other plans cannot be carried on. Never were here. The elders would neither consent to them themselves nor suffer the children to be brought up according to them. Mr Owen in America. Bought 30 acres there but the thing could not answer & now he has let off the land.

Restored school room at New Lanark

3 overshot wheels (130 horse power) turn all the machinery of the mills. The machinery not of the newest kind but very clean & well kept. Everything very clean. All the windows cleaned once a week, every Friday. No weaving here. Only spinning into thread. Work up about 12,000 lbs of raw cotton per month. 1,400 people employed. Population of New Lanark about 2,500. Not allowed to take money from strangers, but the porter notwithstanding, after mentioning this very composedly, took the shilling offered. Not choosing to keep our guide waiting so long sent him home at 1¾ & set off to walk back by ourselves at 4 5/60. Pleasant walk back tho’ up hill, steep along the footpath. Walked leisurely thro’ old Lanark. Took places for tomorrow morning & got home at 4 50/60. Miss McL- tired & would lie down while I went to Stonebyres.

Cotton spinning machinery at New Lanark. Photo by Marsupium Photography.

Took my guide again & off at 2. 2 miles. Turn down from the new road (left) over the old bridge across the river thro’ the neat comfortable village of Kirkland & thro’ a picturesque continuation of this, or some other little village & got there at 5 35/60. A very pretty walk. The valley beautiful. The whole of this road (15 miles) to Hamilton very pretty. Ought to have posted it. Gone [th…o?] way. 3 steps of fall and another small at a little distance above. In winter all one step. The salmon leap up 1st step then can get no father but are thrown back again. A man just this moment gone down from the point where I am standing to the river to fish. A mill-sluice empties itself into it (right, looking up). The view from the little wooded point on which I stand very fine of the fall, of the fine, lofty, perpendicular, wooded rock banks down the river and of the valley around. Vid. Scottish Tourist 195-6/415, “Not a richer valley near… or finer ride in the lowlands of Scotland than between Glasgow & Hyndford Bridge, above Lanark. If the Carse of Gowrie (near Perth) be the granary, the vale of Clyde is the orchard of Scotland.” I like this fall better than either the Corra Linn or Bonniton. Nature seems undisturbed by the propinquity of art. The hand of man has not intruded. Yet the water does not seem to fall 80 feet (187/415). But it is a fine fall & well worth going to see. Stood gazing at it about 20 minutes. Off home at 6 and walked it in 40 minutes. Got back therefore at 6 40/60. Dinner 6 50/60. Roused Miss McL- from lying down. Had borne her fatigue very well. 35 minutes waiting reading volume 2, Scottish Chiefs (interesting from having seen the country) while she got into bed. Only 1 room. Went to it at 9 25/60. Very fine day.

Lanark (thro’ Wishaw & Motherwell) to Glasgow 26 miles
Lanark to Corra Linn 1½ miles
Corra Linn to Bonniton Linn 0½ miles
There to New Lanark (about nearly) 1½ miles
New to Old Lanark 1 mile
Lanark to Stonebyers & back 4 miles

[1] Some background on travel by stage and mail coach can be found here:

[2] Bonnington Linn, Corra Linn, Dundaff Linn, and the lower falls of Stonebyres Linn are together known as the Falls of Clyde. ‘Linn’ means ‘waterfall’ in Scots. Corra Linn is the highest of the falls and is overlooked by Corra Castle, a ruined 16th century castle.

[3] The Covenanters were early Scottish Presbyterians, coming together in the mid-16th century, so called because they followed a series of covenants (agreements) to uphold Presbyterianism as the only religion in Scotland (rather than Roman Catholicism). They were also in favour of an alliance between Scotland and England. They came into conflict with the established church, the monarcy, as well as Oliver Cromwell’s New Model Army. In 1660 the monarchy was restored in Scotland after the Commonwealth period and Charles II brought Catholicism back to Scotland and appointed James Sharpe as the Archbishop of St. Andrews, the head of the religious hierarchy in the country. In 1679 he was assassinated by a band of Covenanters including John Balfour of Kinloch, not John Balfour of Burleigh. Walter Scott caused this confusion by naming Balfour of Burleigh as the leader of the band in his novel Old Mortality, published in 1816. No doubt Anne Lister would have read this.

[4] The village of New Lanark was founded by David Dale in 1786. With the help of inventor Richard Arkwright, Dale built a cotton spinning mill on the banks of the Clyde, taking advantage of the fast-flowing water to turn water wheels and power the machinery. Housing was provided for the men, women and children who worked in the mill. Dale’s son-in-law Robert Owen took over in 1800 and tried to improve conditions for the workers, believing that happy workers were more productive. Children under 10 were no longer allowed to work in the mills. Owen implemented various other changes including setting up a school for the children (including the first infant school in the world), evenings classes for the adults, a village band and giving the workers allotments where they could grow fruit and vegetables. Owen hoped that other mill owners would copy his model and visitors (including Anne Lister) came from all over the world. The cotton mill was operational until 1968, the buildings are now held in trust and New Lanark has been made a World Heritage Site. I’m not sure what Anne Lister means by ‘Mr Owen’s other plans,’ which could not be carried on. If anyone knows please comment below. She was clearly impressed by the cleanliness of the mill and how well the machinery was maintained, but seemingly less so by the precocious working class children!

You can see the original diary page here:


2 thoughts on “Monday 9 June 1828

  1. Again, the immediacy is so apparent.
    Her description closely matches my memory of visiting both as a school child (serious history) and as an adult (ice cream shop).
    A joy to read!

    1. Ronald I was thinking of doing a “retrace” of the way she took, we should do a meetup! Her entry is so detailed that I can see in my mind the way she went, what she saw and did. I love that 200 years later there is still the same interest in the area.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back To Top