The Landscape Photography of Alex H. Hamilton

Go directly to the gallery of monochrome work

Go directly to the gallery of colour work


Alex Hamilton was born in April 1900 in Heatherfield Cottage, Lochend, a hamlet just to the south-west of Limerigg which itself lies about two miles south of Slamannan and about eight miles from Falkirk. He was the third in a family of ten.

Before long, the family moved to Motherwell and after leaving school Alex worked first at Colvilles' steelworks and later for the local electricity company. Away from work, he immersed himself in classic and contemporary writers; among the latter, he took a particular interest in the work of Bertrand Russell, H.G. Wells and George Bernard Shaw. He also spent many days exploring the hills and byways of Lanarkshire, Stirlingshire and Argyll.

Music was a huge part of his life. He learned to play the violin, taking lessons from a travelling Polish tutor. He later joined an amateur string quartet that gave concerts in the Motherwell and Hamilton area. For a time, he was a member of a cinema orchestra but was made redundant by the introduction of the 'talkies'. The orchestra subsequently reformed as a concert party and played at various venues on the Clyde coast.

The photograph on the right shows the string quartet. Alex Hamilton is seated on the left. Standing at the right is Bill Irving, sometime Head of Music at Jordanhill College in Glasgow. Bill's home was part of the now-demolished Laighstonehall House in Hamilton, and on Sunday afternoons the old building resonated to Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven. The house was so affected by mining subsidence that, as a toddler, I could roll down the floor between the players with no muscular effort.

Alex's interest in photography grew during the thirties and he joined the Motherwell Camera Club, through which he also met his future wife, Margaret. It was not long before his work gained wider recognition. He became an Associate of the Royal Photographic Society and most of the photographs in the monochrome gallery were widely exhibited in the UK and abroad during the 1940s and 1950s. Some were included in published collections, for example the American Annual of Photography and a volume called 'The World's Best Photographs'.

It was as the result of an exhibition at the Royal Photographic Society in London that his career took a new turn. In 1946, J. Arthur Dixon, a postcard and greetings card publisher, asked him to join the firm as a staff photographer. Later, he also took on a sales role and, in 1956, he was asked to set up the company's operation based in Inverness. He managed the factory for several years before returning full-time to photography. There is a little more information about the company here. A small selection of the postcards can be seen here.

After retiring at 70, he continued to take photographs and was in demand as a judge at photographic competitions. He also took up watercolour painting, a pastime which he pursued until his death in August 1990.

The self-portrait at the left was taken while on holiday in the Lake District