- The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new lands but seeing with new eyes. Marcel Proust
Travel to Hamilton
Just a fifteen minute drive along the M74 from Glasgow, Hamilton is Scotland’s third largest town and the bustling administrative fulcrum for South Lanarkshire Council. Heading south past Hamilton, the pastoral blanket of South Lanarkshire stretches out alongside the motorway. So perhaps appropriately, the town is a well-appointed staging post studded with some magnificent buildings, expansive country parks, and all of the modern entertainment amenities expected from a large town. Cinemas, restaurants and supermarkets are Hamilton’s familiar touchstones of modern living – so too its indoor shopping centres – but the town’s concessions to today do not overshadow the tapestry of its past. Its oldest building, Low Parks Museum, was indeed a bona-fide 16th Century staging post serving ale and resting horses for those on the commute between Glasgow and Edinburgh. With rush hour traffic on the M8 an inert beast, it is debatable whether or not that particular journey has got much easier in the 21st Century – certainly, tired bacon sandwiches and pre-packed pasties could never be considered an improvement on, well, an improvement on anything. Low Parks Museum now refreshes the town’s memories, and features many exhibits which tell the long, grand story of Hamilton Palace. Wantonly opulent and considered to be the largest palace to be built for anyone outside royalty, Hamilton Palace was the seat of the Duke Of Hamilton. Built in 1695 at a time when Britain was making in its own polite fist of revolution, the palace would survive societal and political earthquakes only to succumb to subsidence in 1921. Echoing the Auld Alliance, Hamilton is twinned with the French town, Châtellerault. James Hamilton, the Second Earl of Arran, was bestowed the title of Duc de Châtellerault. Chatelherault Country Park stands in honour of this relationship, wherein Cadzow Castle’s ruins lie. Which is apt; Hamilton was Cadzow until James Hamilton, 1st Lord Hamilton, gave his name to the town. It was not just his name, for excusing the vanity of nobility to name an entire town after their title, the Hamilton family would build a number of buildings in the area. Perhaps the most notable of which was the Mausoleum in Strathclyde Country Park. Built for the 10th Duke of Hamilton, the Mausoleum has magnificent bronze doors and a huge dome stretching over a hundred feet into the air. A marvel of design, as a chapel its 15 second echo rendered it a ghostly place of prayer. The Mausoleum’s echo is the longest of any building in the world. Hamilton today is both a commuter town and a hive of its own industry. The service sector and electronics employ many of its population. And just as the town as enjoyed a restoration of sorts throughout recent years, so too its football team, Hamilton Academical, who have recently been promoted to the Scottish Premier League. Not bad for a former school team.