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South Lanarkshire

Population 48,546. Figures taken from 2001 Census.

Hamilton lies in the Central Lowlands of Scotland where the Clyde and Avon rivers meet at the head of the Clyde Valley's rich, agricultural lands. This bustling historic town was once the fiefdom of the Dukes of Hamilton. The Duke's Hunting Lodge at Chatelherault, Hamilton Mausoleum, the Low Parks Museum buildings and the Parish Church designed by William Adam are all reminders of the links between the town and the Hamilton family.

The Low Parks Museum provides an insight into the local history and is the oldest surviving building in Hamilton. Recently refurbished, it reveals the fascinating history of the Hamilton family and provides an insight into the lifestyles and domestic situation that helped shape the area. It's also home to the Cameronian's regimental museum. The magnificent Town House in Cadzow Street, which re-opened after a major refurbishment in 2004, provides a first-rate theatre, arts centre, library and registration office.

Hamilton used to be the County town for all Lanarkshire and the headquarters of South Lanarkshire Council is in what is still popularly known as the 'County Buildings'. Opened by the Queen Mother in 1964 and modelled on the UN building in New York it is an 'A' listed high-rise block with a circular council chamber at the entrance.

There are excellent sports facilities in the town, from the tennis courts and football pitches at Hamilton Palace Sports Ground to the Water Palace leisure centre and the ice rink for curling. And Hamilton Rugby Club is home to its Premier Two rugby team at its superb facilities at Laigh Bent where people of all ages can play or watch competitive or social rugby every week during the season. Other spectator sports available, depending on the season, are horse racing at Hamilton Park Racecourse and football at the Hamilton Academicals Ballast Stadium.

You can also watch our SLVTV film about Eddlewood Fun Day on South Lanarkshire TV (this link will open in a new window) YouTube page.

There are many industrial and business parks in the town, providing employment in light industry and service industries with blue chip technologies in the Hamilton Internationl Technology Park. Big employers in the area include South Lanarkshire Council, Philips Lighting, Parks of Hamilton and Lightbody Celebration Cakes.

Hamilton has many kinds of housing on offer to suit all sizes of wallet. There are Council flats and houses and private lets. There are also traditional flats, new build flats and conversions for sale on the open market, as well as family homes on established estates, Victorian villas and new build executive homes. The housing development at Torhead Farm has attracted many builders including Persimmon and Redrow to high ground above Hamilton, with stunning views across the whole of the area. There is also a series of redevelopment projects underway in the town including the Miller Street housing by Clyde Valley Housing Association and Communities Scotland, the redevelopment of the Townhead area and the Hamilton Towers site.

The town has many primary schools and the multi-million pound schools modernisation programme has seen three new-build secondary schools open in the area - Holy Cross in 2007 plus John Ogilvie in Burnbank and Calderside Academy in Blantyre (which replaced Blantyre High and Earnock High) in 2008. Hamilton Grammar was refurbished and was fully re-opened in 2009. The town also has the private school Hamilton College and the University of the West of Scotland campus (in the old Bell College building) with degree level courses in business, health, science and technology and social studies.

Hamilton's local news is provided by the Hamilton Advertiser and the Lanarkshire Extra.


There are four main shopping areas in Hamilton. The Regent Shopping Centre houses high street names such as Bhs, WHSmith, Early Learning Centre and Marks and Spencer, as well as individual shops such as jewellers Anthony Karpe and Chinese herbalists Dr Herbs, while the New Cross Shopping Centre has Peacocks and Carriages Pram Centre. Running parallel is Quarry Street which has more individual shopping with two spectacular bridal shops, Suelise and Eleganza Sposa. The popular Lanarkshire farmer's market is held at the Top Cross every third Saturday in the month from 9am-1pm.

Situated in the old Hamilton Palace grounds, there is the newly developed town square and shopping area which has stores including Asda, Next, Reid Furnishings, Homebase and Boots as well as the Vue multi-plex cinema.

And the Douglas Park retail park, on the site of the old Hamilton Academicals ground includes Sainsbury's, Mecca bingo and Brantano.

Hamilton has a wide selection of restaurants including Italian, Chinese, Indian, Mexican and Greek. It has a good range of bars and pubs as well as the nightclub complex, The Palace.

How to get there

Hamilton is easily accessible from the M74. From Glasgow you can also take the A724, from Strathaven the A723, from Lanark the A72 and from East Kilbride the A725. Hamilton has a regular rail link to and from Glasgow and Motherwell. Hamilton Central train station adjacent to the bus station is the best stop for the town centre, museum and Strathclyde Park with the railway and buses also providing access to nearby Chatelherault Country Park. Hamilton West station is well placed for the Council Headquarters, the University of the West of scotland campus, the Sheriff Court and the Accies Ballast Stadium. Hamilton West is also the station nearest to Hamilton Park Racecourse - but if walking's a problem - it's best to get a bus or taxi from Hamilton Central. The main bus station is in Brandon Street next to the train station with local services as well as services to outlying towns and Glasgow. Hamilton is also a Nationwide and Citylink stop for services north and south.


Hamilton was originally known as Cadzow, derived from the Celtic word Cadihou, the name of the 6th century summer hunting lodge of Rederech, ruler of the ancient Kingdom of Strathclyde. It was here in 568AD that St Kentigern (St Mungo), the patron saint of Glasgow, converted the king of the Britons and his queen, Langoreth to Christianity.

During the 12th century the area was created a Royal Barony by David I and under the rule of Robert the Bruce, was given to Walter FitzGilbert of Hameldone in Northumberland. Walter's descendant Sir James Hamilton married Mary Stewart, the sister of James III, and was created Lord Hamilton. The Barony continued to be called Cadzow until 1445 when a charter from James II to the first Lord Hamilton allowed the town and district to be renamed Hamilton. It became a Royal Burgh in 1548-49.

Cadzow Castle, originally built during the reign of Alexander II on the site of the hunting lodge, was rebuilt around 1530 for Sir James Hamilton of Finnart who, in 1568, gave shelter to Mary, Queen of Scots, after her dramatic escape from Loch Leven Castle. The town and castle were subsequently razed by the Crown in reprisal against the actions of the Marquis. In the 18th century, Cadzow Castle was rebuilt as a folly and, now owned by Historic Scotland, is situated within the grounds of Chatelherault Country Park not far from the park's magnificent Chatelherault hunting lodge, named after the Duke of Chatelherault, the title bestowed upon James Hamilton by Henry II of France in the 16th century.

Chatelherault was designed in the 1730s by the famous Scottish architect William Adam, who also built Hamilton Old Parish Church in 1734. The church, the only one Adam ever built, is the oldest building in Hamilton still used for its original purpose. Of the other great landmarks commissioned by the Hamilton family, only the Mausoleum, the family tomb with its 120ft high dome, built in the mid-1800s, still stands. The magnificent Hamilton Palace which stood nearby in the Low Parks area was demolished in the 1920s and is now part of Strathclyde Country Park.

During the 17th century Hamilton was the main stopping place for the Scotland to England stagecoach. The coaching inn is now the Low Parks Museum on Muir Street. (The old route south through Muir Wynd had long been recognised as difficult for coaches. To avoid this route, a new highway was constructed in 1819 by Thomas Telford that included a bridge over the Cadzow Burn - and the commercial heart of the town shifted to Cadzow Street).

In 1791 Hamilton Parish had just over 5000 residents but within 100 years that figure had increased by 700% to more than 35,000 due to the cotton and coal industry booms and the opening of the Caledonian Central Railway Station.

With the end of the mining boom and the lack of alternative employment, Hamilton was declared a distressed area in 1931. However a survey carried out in 1948 showed that the face of the town had changed yet again. Large numbers of people in the town were employed in public administration and the professions, some employed locally and others commuting to Glasgow and the surrounding area.

William Cullen, one of the leading physicians and chemists of the 18th century was born in Hamilton in 1710. He was a founding member of the Royal Medical Society, before returning to general practice in Hamilton in 1736. One of his famous pupils was anatomist and obstetrician William Hunter. Cullen encouraged original research among his pupils, one of whom was Joseph Black the founder of modern chemistry. Cullen's theories on latent heat and thermodynamics were taken up by James Watt to improve steam engines, sparking the Industrial Revolution. Cullen co-founded the Glasgow Medical School in 1744 and in 1777 he published papers suggesting that disease was the result of disturbances in the nervous system which became Europe's principal text on the classification and treatment of disease. His ideas survive in the terms 'nervous energy' and 'neuroses' which Cullen coined.

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