Hamilton is a town on Clydeside in central Scotland. With a population of 54,000 it's the fourth-largest town in Scotland and lies 12 miles south-east of Glasgow, at the confluence of the River Clyde with the Avon Water. It was called Cadzow until the 15th century when it became the seat of the Dukes of Hamilton, who over the following centuries often enlivened the place and sometimes improved it: their embellishments are today the reason to visit. Coal-mining was the main local industry; Hamilton was the county town of Lanarkshire and is now the base for South Lanarkshire Council, employing 16,000. It's separated by the Clyde and the M74 from nearby Motherwell, a former steel town.
This placename Hamilton is not directly related to the other Hamiltons of Ontario, Bermuda or New Zealand. Still less are the Dukes of Hamilton, now embodied by the 16th Duke Alexander Douglas Douglas-Hamilton (born 1978), to be confused with the unsuccessful Ontario hockey team of that name who became "Guelph Storm".
Trains run from Glasgow Central every 15 mins, taking 25-30 mins via Rutherglen, Cambuslang, Blantyre and Hamilton West to reach Hamilton Central. They run 06:00-23:00 and originate in Dalmuir or Milngavie. Alternate trains continue to Motherwell (10 mins), which is on the main line with direct fast trains to Edinburgh and north-east England, Carlisle and north-west England, the Midlands and London. Hourly local trains continue beyond Motherwell to Coatbridge and Cumbernauld.
1 Hamilton Central is in town centre next to the bus station.
2 Hamilton West is more convenient for the north end of town, eg Hamilton Academical football ground.
First Glasgow Bus X1 runs M-Sa every 30 mins from Glasgow Buchanan station to Hamilton Low Patrick St, taking 25 mins. It only runs between 07:00 and 18:00. Night Bus N267 runs shortly after midnight Friday & Saturday gone, Sat & Sun come, and again at 03:00. It runs from Glasgow Dalhousie St and Central Station to Hamilton John St.
The hourly Stagecoach X74 from Dumfries and Moffat calls at Hamilton on its way to Glasgow.
First Glasgow Bus 201 runs daily every 10-20 mins from Petersburn and Airdrie to Coatbridge, Belshill, Motherwell, Hamilton, Burnbank, East Kilbride and Hairmyres Hospital.
Hamilton Bus Station is next to Hamilton Central railway station.
Most routes approach along M74, exit at jcn 6 and follow A723 into town. From Edinburgh follow M8 and cross by A725 onto M74.
Walk: Hamilton centre is compact and pedestrian-friendly, with traffic-free shopping malls. Further out, all areas have proper pavements, and the major junctions have pedestrian crossings.
By bus: see above for buses to nearby Motherwell, Wishaw, East Kilbride, and southern burbs of Glasgow.
Buses up the main spine of town (A724 Union Street) include 201, 205 & 250 (all for East Kilbride), 226 (for Hillhouse) and 230 (for Blantyre).
By train: Chatelherault has its own station, often garbled as "Chattel Halt", with trains every 15 mins from Glasgow and Hamilton on the branch line to Larkhall.
- 1 Hamilton Old Parish Church, Leechlee Road, Hamilton ML3 6AQ, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. M-F 08:00-18:00, Sun only for 10:45 service. This is a Church of Scotland parish church with an Italianate design, the architect being William Adam. It was built in 1734 when the 5th Duke of Hamilton demolished its predecessor to expand his park. The central cupola was added in 1841: this meant changing the seating plan, whereupon the 11th Duke fell out with the Burgh Magistrates over who got to sit where. The feud went all the way to the House of Lords, the UK's supreme court; the Magistrates won.
- 2 Low Parks Museum, 129 Muir Street, Hamilton, ML3 6BJ, ☏ , fax: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. M-Sa 10AM-5PM, Su noon-5PM. Low Parks Museum in Hamilton is a 5-star museum under the Visit Scotland grading scheme, situated in the former Low Parks of the Duke of Hamilton's estates. The museum traces the local history of South Lanarkshire, with displays relating to Hamilton Palace; early settlement; working life, including agriculture, weaving, and coalmining; and also the history of the local regiment, the Cameronians (Scottish Rifles). Free.
- 3 Hamilton Mausoleum, 129 Muir Street, Hamilton ML3 6BJ, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. 24 hours. If colossal tombs can buy glory on earth and in the afterlife, then Alexander 10th Duke of Hamilton (1767-1852) is even now hobnobbing with the pharoahs, and especially with Ozymandias. He built a humongous new palace, plus this massive family vault where he and his ancestors came to lie. It was only completed in 1858, five years after his death. In 1921 the area suffered flooding and subsidence from the River Clyde so the coffins were transferred to Bent Cemetery, leaving empty niches, while the palace collapsed. The chapel has a 36 metre-high dome with an oculus, like the Pantheon in Rome; there are magnificent bronze doors and a floor made of different marbles from around the world. Two huge lions guard the entrance to the burial crypt. Until 2014 this building held the world record for the longest reverberating echo, at 15 secs (ie how long it persists, not how long it takes to come back to you). But that's now surpassed by the 112 secs of some disused oil tanks in Invergordon: sic transit gloria mundi. Free.
- 4 Bent Cemetery is along Bent Road half a mile west of Hamilton Central station. As well as the Dukes, here lies the entertainer Sir Harry Lauder (1870-1950), who for ten years worked down the local coal mine - he was once pinned under a roof-fall, while his work mates were horribly crushed.
An unexpected visitor
Towards midnight on 10 May 1941 a German officer parachuted into the fields some miles west of Hamilton and said he had an important message for the Duke. Douglas the 14th Duke was serving with the RAF in Edinburgh: when he came to interview the man, it turned out to be Deputy Führer Rudolf Hess. They'd never met but Hess admired the Duke as an aviator, and thought he might help negotiate a peace-deal. The astonished Duke responded in the same terms as an equally astonished Churchill (dripping in his bathrobe as he was told the news): that there could be no peace with Hitler, and that Britain would fight him to the end. It was clearly a dingbat solo mission with no mandate to negotiate, but Hess confirmed the Allies' belief that Hitler was about to do the very thing that he'd consistently declared Germany must never do: attack Russia and become embroiled on a war on two fronts. And that changed the tide of the war, even before the USA joined in.
The 1946 Military Tribunal sentenced Hess to life imprisonment for his part in Nazism to 1941, and it proved to be a long life. He was held in Spandau prison, from 1966 the last remaining prisoner there, until in 1987 aged 93 he hung himself. The prison was quickly demolished to prevent it becoming a shrine, and a supermarket was built there, popular with British military families who called it "Hesco".
- 5 Chatelherault Country Park, Ferniegair ML3 7UE (Footpath from Ferniegair, or turn off A72 half a mile south, or train to Chatelherault), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. 24 hours. Extensive park ranged around the 1734 "hunting lodge" by William Adam, basically a huge folly to prettify the landscape. There are great views across to the Campsie Hills and Ben Lomond, improved from 2017 as some of the woodland has been felled. The park has almost a square mile of open country and woods, ten miles of routed pathways and a playground, visitor centre and cafe. A grand arched bridge crosses the Avon Water gorge to 16th C Cadzow Castle, an unsafe ruin, so just admire it from the bridge. The name Chatelherault was from a duchy awarded to a 16th C Hamilton who got Mary Queen of Scots married off (age 16) to the heir to the French throne (age 14) - within months the boy became King Francis II but died, another of history's "what if?" moments. As to the palace, the 19th century 10th Duke's fortune couldn't match his building ambitions, so to raise money he leased more and more of the land to coal-mining. Harry Lauder and his successors burrowed away like socialist sappers till the palace was undermined and fell down. Free.
- David Livingstone Centre, 165 Station Rd, Blantyre G72 9BY (4 miles north of Hamilton, take train to Blantyre). Closed for rebuilding, gardens remain open. Blantyre was the birthplace of the explorer and missionary David Livingstone (1813-1873). In youth he grubbed a living in the cotton mills to support his family, but was able to study & qualify in medicine. He intended to go to China as a missionary, but the Opium Wars made travel there unfeasible, and he turned to Africa hoping to combat the slave trade. Legitimate trade would help overturn it, to which end he sought the source of the Nile. This museum tells his story but is closed for rebuilding, re-opening date not yet announced. In Hamilton there are plaques to his memory in St James' Church and at 117 Burnbank Road, where he lived in 1862; that house still stands.
- 1 Hamilton Park Racecourse, Bothwell Road, Hamilton ML3 0DW, ☏ , ✉ Enquiries@hamilton-park.co.uk. This has flat racing from May to October.
- Watch football at 2 Hamilton Academical FC, Cadzow Ave ML3 0FT. The "Accies" were relegated in 2021 so they now play soccer in the Championship, the game's second tier in Scotland. Their home ground New Douglas Park (capacity 6000, all-seater) frequently changes sponsored names: the latest is "Fountain of Youth Stadium." It's 200 yards north of Hamilton West Station, a mile northwest of town centre.
- Funfair and theme park is the other side of M74 in nearby Motherwell.
- The Shopping Centres are a block north of Central station. The mall on the west side of Quarry St is New Cross Centre, that on the east side is Regent Centre.
- 1 Carrigan's, 3 Birkhall Road, Hamilton ML3 8BG, ☏ . M-Sa 08:30-20:30, Su 12:00-20:30. Steak house and other traditional meat. Also with branches in Blantyre and East Kilbride.
- 2 Cafe Eataliano, 55 Almada Street, Hamilton ML3 0HQ, ☏ . M-Sa 11:45-22:00, Su 12:00-21:00. Italian licensed cafe with good food, service & price.
- Leonardo's (formerly Valentino's), 4 Barrack Street, Hamilton ML3 0DG (100 yards east of Eataliano), ☏ . Su-W 12:00-22:00, Th-Sa 12:00-23:00. Good range of Italian cuisine, vegetarian and GF options but not much for vegans.
- 3 Gusti D'Italia, 13 Townhead Street, Hamilton ML3 7BQ, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. M-Th 12:00-22:00, F-Su 12:00-23:00. Italian restaurant, scores well on food and service.
- 4 Pietruccio's, 30 Campbell Street, Hamilton ML3 6AS, ☏ . W Th Su 17:00-22:00, F 17:00-23:30, Sa 13:00-23:30. Small Italian restaurant, great food and atmosphere.
- 5 Bombay Cottage, 4 Lower Auchingramont Road, Hamilton ML3 6HW, ☏ . Su-Th 12:00-22:30, F Sa 12:00-23:30. Consistently good Indian fare, no need for the gimmick of the "resident magician".
- 6 Il Capriccio, 77 Cadzow Street, Hamilton ML3 6DY, ☏ . Tu-Sa 12:00-21:00, Su 13:00-21:00. Simple Italian restaurant, food is consistently pleasing.
- Equi's, 9-11 Burnbank Road, Hamilton ML3 9AA (south side of Hamilton West station), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Daily 10:00-22:30. Italian ice cream, sit in or takeaway.
- Roxys Bar, 78 Brandon Street, Hamilton ML3 6AB (next to Hamilton Central station), ☏ . M-Th 11:00-19:30, F Sa 11:00-23:45, Su 12:30-20:00. It's more like a licensed cafe, as it closes early midweek.
- Butterburn Bar, 44 Gateside Street, Hamilton ML3 7JQ, ☏ . M-Sa 11:00-00:00, Su 12:30-00:00. Squeaky-clean pub with good food.
- Peacock and Ivy (formerly Tap Room), 1 Burnbank Road, Hamilton ML3 9AA (just south of Hamilton West station), ☏ . Daily 12:00-23:45. New owners since Aug 2019, pub with range of food and live music.
- 1 Holiday Inn Express Hamilton, Keith St, Hamilton ML3 7BL (A723 near jcn 6 of M74), ☏ . Clean well-run chain hotel. B&B double £65.
- 2 Clydesdale Hotel and Restaurant, 12 Clydesdale St, Hamilton ML3 0DP, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Budget hotel close to railway station. B&B double £55.
- 3 The Avonbridge, Carlisle Road, Hamilton ML3 7DB, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Mid-range hotel, some decor is tired. Pizzeria next door. B&B double £60.
Good mobile signal all around town. Hamilton's landline area code is 01698, or +44 1698 from abroad.
- East Kilbride has the Museum of Rural Life.
- New Lanark is a well-preserved 19th C mill complex and model town.
- Glasgow and Edinburgh both rank as must-see and are easily accessible by train or by road.
|Routes through Hamilton|
|Glasgow ←||NW SE||→ Lesmahagow → Manchester|
|END ←||NW SE||→ Lanark|