Alfred Mault, 'Bridge over the Clyde at Hamilton', 1883 (ALMFA, SLT)

Hamilton's first European settlers arrived in the 1820s. Occupying a strategic position as roads and agriculture developed, Hamilton became a transport centre. By the 1830s a visitor noted many sly grog shops, and in 1844 Hamilton was so busy, with two breweries, six or seven inns, quarries, mills, many sandstone buildings and a convict probation station, that it was laid out as a major country town. The end of transportation removed convict labour and though the rich soil was dry for farming, sheep and cattle flourished, and Hamilton remained a bustling centre. Coal was worked at Langloh from 1937, but mechanisation and improved road transport effectively put an end to Hamilton's growth.

After the Second World War, land was made available to returned  soldier settlers for dairy and sheep farms. Irrigation from the Meadowbank Dam in the 1960s meant more crops could be grown, particularly poppies, and tourism has increased, encouraged by Hamilton's fine sandstone buildings.

Further reading: K Von Stieglitz, A history of Hamilton, Ouse and Gretna, Launceston, [1963]; L Bethell, The valley of the Derwent, Hobart, [1958].

Lee Milne