The Banffshire Field Club was founded in 1880 by a number of professional and business men, among whom was Thomas Edward, the naturalist. An enthusiastic membership soon gathered and that summer three excursions were held, led by John Home, geologist, to Gamrie; Rev’d John Wilson to Fyvie; and William Cramond, historian, to Cullen.
The club was part of the Northern Association of Literary and Scientific Societies and hosted their third annual joint meeting, in Banff, with representation from Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Inverness, Ross-shire and Nairn. Following the reading of papers by various members and supper at the Fife Arms Hotel, by 8a.m. next day hundreds of spectators watched the procession of carriages, each drawn by a pair of horses, first stop at the Old Church of Boyndie, then at Boyne Castle, followed by the Old Kirk of Cullen and finally Cullen House. A business meeting was held on the lawn, before the carriages took the guests back to Banff.
Following a paper by Mr.Thomas Edward, the club decided to print his paper and distribute it to other societies, and also decided that all future papers would be printed by the Banffshire Journal and be free to members. This is the source of the papers held by the club's transactions secretary today, available for a modest sum to anyone interested in a particular subject. An early secretary was James Spence, who founded the Buchan Field Club, which in 2008 is still in existence. Another member, William G. Craib, botanist, compiled The Flora of Banffshire, published by the Banffshire Journal in 1912. He later became Professor of Botany at Aberdeen University and added three further supplementary lists.
During the First World War, the club continued to meet, but
no excursions were held. Postwar, 1923-37,
contributions to meetings were from Mr. Alistair Tayler and his sister
Henrietta, among others. From 1925 Dr W.
Douglas Simpson, librarian at King's College, Aberdeen University, contributed
articles and led excursions to Boyne, Findlater, Spynie and Elgin Cathedral,
Auchindoir, Rhynie, Essie and Rothiemay Castle. Many of his printed talks have
detailed sketch maps and photographs, still available from the transactions.
From 1939 to 1958, the club was in abeyance, but after a
public meeting in Cullen in 1958 it was reformed as 'The Banffshire Society',
quickly gathering 203 members and four juniors. 'Society' prizes were given
for studies in botany, natural history and biology, to encourage young people
to join. Banffshire Field Club, its aims, agreeing with the 1880 constitution,
are 'to explore the district ... inquiring into the Geology, Botany, Natural
History, Archaeology, etc.' Members are
drawn from a wide area - from the former County of Banffshire
and further afield.
On 10th September 2005, Banffshire Field Club celebrated the 125th anniversary of its founding with a lunch at the Banff Springs Hotel. The chairman was Mr. James A.S. McPherson, CBE, FSA Scot, JP and there was an audio-visual presentation by Dr David Findlay Clark, OBE, DL, entitled 'Tribute to Thomas Edward', and some views of the former tile and clay pipe works at Blackpots, Whitehills, near Banff.
Lists of the Transactions from 1880 to 1939 are on the 'PUBLICATIONS' page, listed both by subject and by reference number. Most of these papers are available from the Transactions Secretary by post, details are on the 'ARCHIVE' page.
Membership costs only £5.00 per annum. The club meets from September to April (except January) at
2.15p.m., on the second Saturday of the month in the St. Rufus Hall, Turner Street, Keith. A charge is made for tea & biscuits of £2 for members and £3 for non-members to cover accommodation costs. Two outdoor excursions are arranged in the summer - details can found on the 'PROGRAMME' page nearer to the summer break.
Banffshire Field Club is a registered Scottish charity, No. SC 015944