The origins of Hamilton Natural History Society start in 1891
when a group of gentlemen set up the Hamilton Field Club. This club was short-lived but in March 1904, the Hamilton and District Field Club was formed at a meeting in Hamilton Academy.
It changed its name to Hamilton Natural History and Photographic Society in 1907 when it merged with the Hamilton Photographic Society.
In 1922, the society had 132 members. Hamilton Natural History Society retained the name when the Hamilton Photographic Society reformed separately in 1929.
The society is noted in a book published in 1932 by Hamilton Civic Society but had ceased activities by the 1940s due to the war.
The Hamilton club was revived and reformed as the Hamilton Natural History Group on 19th January 1960, meeting in Hamilton Library.
The society affiliated with Hamilton Civic Society in 1960 and merged with Motherwell Natural History Society in 1962.
The name was changed to the present form on 22nd October 1965 (on separation from Hamilton Civic Society).
The logo was designed in 1966 by Sid Birnage (President from 1965 to 1967). The figures on it represent Hamilton – in the shape of a Cadzow Oak and one of the Cadzow herd of wild white cattle.
Birds are represented by the Jackdaw, plants by the Arum and insects by the Oak Eggar Moth.
have always been keen recorders, collectors and illustrators/photographers of natural history.
At various points of time, collections have been given to Hamilton Library, Hamilton Museum, the Hunterian Museum and the Royal Scottish Museum.
We recently gifted the Birnage Herbarium to South Lanarkshire Council, who have restored and digitised it for the museum collection. Society members continue to be active in recording local wildlife – we can now use digital photos and GPS instead of collecting specimens.
The society published a Journal every three years from 1969 to 2009. From 2011-2013 we published an annual newsletter.
For many years, we have monitored local planning proposals with regard to any environmental impacts (submitting objections if necessary) and attended Public Enquiries on the group’s behalf.
Some areas of interest have been: Cadzow Oaks (after eleven were felled in 1979), Cadzow Glen, Stonehouse new town, Blue Waters Quarry, Bardykes Colliery, Backmuir Woods, Palace Grounds development, Barncluith, Wellhall trees, Smithycroft trees, Blantyremuir opencast mining, Langlands Moss, Sydes Brae meadows, Allanton Bing, Cadzow Bing, Woodside Primary School trees.
Over the years, we have taken part in the public consultation process (for example the formation of Strathclyde Regional Park and Chatelherault Country Park and the Scottish Executive’s Nature Conservation Bill) and lobbied local government on relevant issues.
Currently, the society is a “stakeholder” in the South Lanarkshire Local Plan and South Lanarkshire Biodiversity Action Plan.
Activities have moved with the times: e.g. from walking Rights of Way to keep them active, to commenting on the recent Scottish Access Laws and South Lanarkshire Core Path Plan.
We have had links past and present with Glasgow, Edinburgh, Stirling, Andersonians, Dunfermline and Paisley Natural History Societies and we are registered members of TCV (The Conservation Volunteers).
The society has always promoted the group’s activities to a wider public, through walks, exhibitions or conferences and has sponsored students and donated to suitable nature projects.
It is a tribute to the enormous amount of knowledge and enthusiasm of the members over the last fifty years that the society has achieved so much and continues to do so, throughout social and legislative changes.
From the coming of the car, television then the internet to show us the world outside Hamilton; from film reels to slides to digital display to illustrate our talks; from private estates to Scottish Government; from heavy industry to Local Nature Reserves: we continue to reflect local concerns and community spirit.