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Memorial Bench unveiled at New Lanark for ‘Founding Chair’ of New Lanark Trust, attended by local MSP

Harry Smith Memorial Chair

Left to right, Karen  (granddaughter), Ewan & Cameron (great grandchildren) and Joyce (daughter) on the memorial bench, made from a tree from New Lanark.

Harry Smith (1916 – 2013) was honoured by family and friends at the weekend at New Lanark with a service and the installation of a memorial bench at New Lanark. Harry Smith was the founding chair of the New Lanark Trust and stayed on as trustee until his passing in 2013.

Harry Smith was born in Glasgow in 1916. He had always been active in public life and served as a member of the Historic Buildings Council, the Ancient Monuments Board for Scotland, Lanarkshire Health Board and the Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland. His tireless and dedicated work for people with learning difficulties is legendary, and he has been particularly associated over many years with Lanark’s Dale Centre. He had long been enthusiastically involved in town twinning, and made many good friends in Yvetot and Hemmingen.

Active in local politics, ultimately as a Strathclyde Regional Councillor,  Harry Smith was Provost of the Royal Burgh of  Lanark from 1971 - 1974.  In this capacity, he chaired the Working Party which was set up in 1972 to consider the future of New Lanark. The recommendation of the Working Party was to attempt the complete restoration and regeneration of the historic village, then in a ruinous state. In 1974, New Lanark Conservation Trust was formed as an  independent charity dedicated to this aim.

Perhaps his proudest moment came with the inscription of New Lanark on UNESCO’s World Heritage List on 14 December 2001 and this bench, made from a tree from New Lanark, is a fitting memorial to this great man.

Councillor Catherine McClymont commented, “I was pleased to see the bench in place in the village of New Lanark.   The local Labour Party members and members of Harry Smith's family commissioned the bench following a fundraiser to mark the work that the late Harry Smith achieved in New Lanark during his time as Provost of Lanark alongside the late Jim Arnold and the late Arthur Bell. 

“Harry was a remarkable man who did so much for New Lanark, Lanark and beyond it is fitting to have this locally sourced wood made by New Lanark Trust carpenters into a lovely bench for people to enjoy the view of the Clyde.  I think Harry would have approved of how it came about.”

Attended by Claudia Beamish, MSP as a representative for the labour party, said, “As a Scottish Co-operative Party MSP, I found the marking of the installing of the Harry Smith memorial bench at New Lanark very moving. Harry’s work as the first Trust Chair, along with Jim Arnold, is an inspiration for villagers and visitors from across the world about the results that can come by working together against the odds.

“I hope many will take the opportunity to sit on the fine wooden bench, made from wood from the Falls of Clyde by local carpenters, rest then perhaps reflect on the opportunities future co-operation can bring.”

On the day Harry’s granddaughter Karen said: “I like to think he’s [Harry] looking down on us all. I think he’ll be feeling incredibly proud that he is being honoured in this way. , and that so many of you have come today. I think he will love the bench and will greatly appreciate the significance of the bench being made here in New Lanark by Jimmy and Jack, from New Lanark trees. He will also appreciate that this is a practical memorial, one that people can use and enjoy. And I think he’ll feel enormously proud to see 3 generations of his family here today, continuing to visit and enjoy the place he worked so hard to save.”