The story of Lanark’s Clydesdale Inn

The Clydesdale Inn...has origins dating way back even beyond its offucial opening date back in 1793.
The Clydesdale Inn...has origins dating way back even beyond its offucial opening date back in 1793.

TWO centuries - and a bit - is a long, long time for a business to survive, especially in the volatile `hospitality industry’.

However, Lanark’s Clydesdale Inn this year celebrates the 222nd anniversary of its formal opening in 1793 as `The New Inn’.

But there is evidence that use of the Bloomgate site for shelter and sustenance dates back hundreds of years before that!

It was probably first occupied by the Franciscan Monastery of Lanark. built some time between 1315 and 1328 and in 1592, after the Reformation, ownership of the monastery lands was granted by the Crown to James, Lockhart of Lee.

Moving forward another few hundred years, the beginning of the 1790s saw the Town Council of Lanark concerned that the Royal Burgh lacked a first class hotel. A meeting of the town’s great and good was duly called and a subscription list opened, New Lanark’s founder David Dale being one of the original `shareholders’.

The hotel - first known as the New Inn - was built and opened for business in 1793 and leased to Mr Robert Somerville.

It was not long into its history that captured French officers of the Napoleonic Wars were ‘imprisoned’ there and evidence of this cropped up during the building’s recent renovations when one of their boots was found in the loft!

During the first twenty years of its life the hotel was used by many of the Crowned Heads of Europe, visiting the also recently-built mills in New Lanark and studying the revolutionary social and industrial concepts of Mr Robert Owen (also an Inn board of directors member).

In 1803 it is recorded that William and Dorothy Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge stayed in the hotel while visiting the Falls of Clyde.

They were served a then popular Scottish dish - Potted Heid. Surprisingly, the poetic party seemed to enjoy their feast of a boiled sheep’s head!

For more on this story pick up a copy of this week’s Carluke and Lanark Gazette, which is in the shops now.