Town Centre Trail

1 Hour


5 miles


Easy to moderate

Photo courtesy of Graeme McLeish

Featuring Bannatyne Street, High Street, Hope Street and Greenside Lane, take a stroll through the Royal Burgh's town centre.

1 - Bannatyne Street

In 1855 the Lanark Railway Company established a branch line off the Glasgow to Carlisle Railway linking Cleghorn to Lanark. The line was later acquired by the Caledonian Railway Company on 23 July 1860. Former coaching inns were adapted to meet the needs of new visitors arriving by train, whilst new hotels were established around the bustling station as the Station Hotel, now the Royal Oak Hotel.

Visitors have long been attracted to Lanark, New Lanark and the Falls of Clyde, The Falls were noted as the ‘most considerable falls…without parallel in Britain’  and attracted notable visitors such as Burns, Wordsworth and Turner to survey their grandeur.

The railway also became a focus for industry with a busy saw mill situated in
Woodstock Yard and the Caledonian Fancy Box Works behind the Royal Oak Hotel.

From the station turn right down Bannatyne Street to the High Street

2 - High Street

The top of the High Street marks the position of one of Lanark’s ancient medieval ports or gateways into the town. The Portvaults public house on the left reminds us of the location of the port. During the Medieval period, the High Street of ‘Hietoun’ was a large open area with a number of buildings and rigs running along the boundaries. The ‘Pudden’ Burn ran down the centre of the street. The High Street has gradually narrowed over the years but the dramatic view to St. Nicholas Parish Church and the hills beyond remains.

3 - Hunter's Close

As you walk down the High Street you will see a number of closes or small narrow lanes which run off the High Street between buildings. The closes follow the line of the old rigs and generally connect to the North Vennel on the north side of the High Street. The North Vennel lay outside the town wall which enclosed the burgh and was connected to the ports or gateways.

Continue along the north side of the High Street to Duncan's Close.

4- The Historic Core

Standing at the entrance to Duncan’s Close you will have an excellent view of the Cross, St. Nicholas Parish Church and The Tolbooth. In medieval times a mercat cross stood in the centre of the space, the head of which is believed to be contained in the elevated niche on the east side of the Tolbooth. Between 1887 and 1897, the Victoria Fountain stood on the site of the mercat cross erected to commemorate Queen Victoria’s diamond jubilee. The Fountain was transferred to the Horsemarket at the turn of the century but is no longer in existence today.

Return to  the High Street

Photo courtesy of Graeme McLeish

A - The Tolbooth

The buildings we see today date back to 1778 but lie on the site of a much earlier Tolbooth. Designed as a three storey building, the present Tolbooth was available to the Council and the gentlemen of the Town. The Tolbooth contained many functions; a guard house, weigh house and shops on the ground floor, the sheriff court and Council room on the first floor and a large room for the use of the gentlemen on the top floor. Only the top two floors can be seen today due to gradual change in level of the High Street of some 12 feet in 200 years. A circular pattern marked out by setts adjacent to the Tolbooth, mark the position of the Tron or weighing scales. The Provost’s Lamp is due to occupy this spot. Dating from the 1890’s, it was formerly situated outside each Provost’s house.

B - St. Nicholas Parish Church

Built in 1774 on the site of an earlier 12th century chapel, St. Nicholas Parish Church incorporates the six stage rubble tower or town steeple. Within the steeple lies the town bell, believed to date from 1130 when it was housed at Old St. Kentigern’s and recast in 1659 and 1983. The church has recently been refurbished and restored to the Georgian period, with a lime render and lime wash applied to the stonework.

C - The Wallace Statue

The magnificent statue of William Wallace situated on the Town Steeple of St. Nicholas Church is the work of the sculptor Robert Forrest and was gifted to the town in 1822. From his corbelled niche, Wallace dominates the facade of the Steeple and forms the focus of the Lanimer celebration held at the Cross each June.

D - The Lanimers

The origins of the Lanimers date back to the 12th century when Lanark was established as a Royal Burgh. The Burgesses were instructed by the King to check the march and boundary stones of the Burgh and report back on their condition. This tradition continues today with the Perambulation of the Marches, held at the beginning of Lanimer Week. Lanimer Day has gradually developed into a day of celebrations and since 1893 the Lanimer Queen and her court were added to the celebration and remain a popular part of the event today.

Continue along the north side of the High Street into Bloomgate to the junction with Hope Street to your right

5 - Victorian Lanark/Hope Street

In 1829 a new street was established, breaking away from the medieval street pattern which dominates Lanark. Hope Street was intended as the new connection to Edinburgh and became the focus of new civic buildings during the Victorian period. Elegant classical buildings were erected to house the Council Offices and Sheriff Court. The Lindsay Institute housed a library and reading room, while St. Kentigern’s Church, the United Presbyterian Church and Christ Church were built to complement Hope Street’s civic and administrative functions.

Walk up Hope Street noting the following buildings. Hope Street is said to the best surviving example of a Victorian street in Lanarkshire.

A - The Meal Market

Situated on the corner of Hope Street and built in 1855, the meal market was erected on the site of an earlier building from 1712. Corn and meal were traded in the market building the architectural area surrounding Lanark. The building also housed an Inn for traders visiting the town. The meal market buildings have been converted to offices, shops and houses.

B - The Lindsay Institute

Built in 1914 as a free public library, reading room and museum with trust funds left by Mr Charles Lindsay of Ridge Park, Lanark in 1844. The Lindsay was built as a classical design by local architect John Stuart. The fine ashlar stone is from Denwick Quarry, Northumberland. It is still in use as a public library.

C - St. Kentigern's Church

Sadly no longer in ecclesiastical use, St Kentigern's Church was built in 1884 to a design by W.J. Hay of Liverpool in the gothic style. The 138 foot spire forms an important part of Lanark’s skyline, whilst fine architecture design can be seen around the main doorway.

Built between 1834 and 1836 to a classical design by Hugh Marr, this imposing building served as the Council Chambers until the mid 1970’s. Many of the fine architecture details such as the pediment and doric columns are floodlit at night. Now used as offices by South Lanarkshire Council.

D - Former Lanark County buildings

Built between 1834 and 1836 to a classical design by Hugh Marr, this imposing building served as the Council Chambers until the mid 1970’s. Many of the fine architecture details such as the pediment and doric columns are floodlit at night. Now used as offices by South Lanarkshire Council.

E - The Sheriff Court

Added to the former County Buildings in 1868 to act as the new Sheriff Court and complement the adjacent Council Chambers, once linked by a connecting door. Still in use today as Lanark Sheriff Court.

F - Former United Presbyterian Church

Now the Registrar’s Office, the former church was built in 1836 originally as a relief church and become the United Presbyterian Church in 1888. Neo-Georgian in style.

G - Christ Church

Designed by John Henderson and built in 1858 in the gothic style, the Episcopal church was enlarged in the late 1800’s with the addition of the North aisle.

6 - Greenside Lane

Following the medieval street pattern, single storey cottages bound Greenside Lane as it runs down to North Vennel. The steep roofs and ‘thachstanes’ beneath the chimneys are evidence of the old thatched roofs of these former weavers cottages.

7 - North Vennel and Wide Close

As you reach the bottom of Greenside Lane, you will cross North Vennel to the Wide Close. North Vennel was formerly a lane situated on the outside of the town wall in medieval times. The line of the Vennel can still be seen, though many of its former uses have disappeared. Until recently a skin works was located along North Vennel and in Victorian times, the area was highly populated with many manufacturers and industries concentrated to the north of the High Street.

The Wide Close follows the medieval street pattern and formed the main connection north from the Cross. The Inns and tenement houses illustrates the historic importance of the thoroughfare, together with the wide end connecting through to the High Street which gives the Close its name.

Turn left through Wide Close into Bloomgate and the High Street. Proceed up the High Street back to the Station if you wish to conclude Trail A.

You can download a map by clicking the icon below. Lanark Town Centre Trail is captioned as Trail A.

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