Sunday, March 16, 2014

UNITED KINGDOM ROCK & MINERAL CLUBS



I had the opportunity during the last several months to visit England in the United Kingdom.  While over there I became interested in trying to locate a rock and mineral club for visitation. But alas, I could not locate a club meeting within close driving distance of Maidenhead, Berkshire (west of London).  However, in searching for a club, I was able to compile a listing of rock and mineral clubs within the United Kingdom.  Although this is not news in the UK, readers in the US might be interested.

The Southampton Mineral & Fossil Society is located at www.solonminfoss.org.uk/  The club was formed in 1971 and “…is one of the oldest amateur mineral and fossil societies in the UK”.  I found their website to be quite spectacular with information on meetings and field trips and excellent photos of minerals and fossils.  They also sponsor two interesting activities (in my opinion):  1) Mineral and Fossil of the Month [evidently a display at the monthly meeting; and 2) an annual photo contest with prizes and a trophy.
  
The British Micromount Society is an umbrella society with chapters in several cities, www.britishmicromountsociety.homestead.com.  The aim of the Society is “…to promote contact between micromounters in the UK”.  I noted two programs of interest as the Society: 1) publishes the British Directory of Micromounters; and 2) maintains a National Reference Collection of Micromounts that is available for loan to members.

The Norfolk Mineral & Lapidary Society is “…located about 100 miles north-ish of London and as many would have it, on the road to nowhere”!  Their newsletter is the Stone Chat and the website is at www.norfolkminandlapsoc.homestead.com. For clubs in the US, I note that this Society seems willing to exchange newsletters with other like-minded clubs.

Www.sussexmineralandlapidarysociety.org.uk is the web site of, wait for it, the Sussex Mineral and Lapidary Society. The club sponsors a journal and publishes six times per year.  I also find it interesting that the Society partakes in several organized international field trips---France, the United States, Canada, Germany, etc.

The Mineralogical Society of Great Britain and Ireland is perhaps the best known of the UK clubs and is similar to The Mineralogical Society of America.  The group publishes a number of scientific journals, books and monographs and information is at www.minersoc.org.

The Scottish Mineral and Lapidary Club (www.lapidary.org.uk) is located up in Edinburgh and is the oldest club in the UK.  Their major interest seems to revolve around lapidary work in a specialized shop and building.  Evidently Edinburgh was “a thriving centre of the lapidary and jewellery trades” in the 19th century”.  The skills of “master lapidarists” were passed on, and continue to be, to “younger” members.  They seem to specialize in working with “Scotch Pebbles” (agates).



The Essex Rock & Mineral Society has a good website at www.erms.org and is located in Essex and I thought it interesting that very explicit instructions were given on arriving by train or bus.  They also have a section on the local geology.

The Sidcup Lapidary and Mineral Society “has been running for 40 years with an active membership. [They] have a workshop with cutting, grinding and polishing equipment, display tables and microscopes for use.”  On their website www.sidcuplapminsoc.org.uk visitors “will find the current meetings schedule, a brief history of the Society.”

“The Medway Lapidary and Mineral Society www.mfms.org.uk/home.htm “was formed in June 1975 to cater for an interest in minerals and lapidary i.e. the cutting and polishing of semi-precious stones. It grew to be one of the foremost societies in this field in England. Unfortunately, the interest in lapidary in particular waned, as membership interests changed, the emphasis now being toward fossil collecting and geology. In the autumn of 2004 we became The Medway Fossil and Mineral Society.

Some members are currently involved in research into the stratigraphy of the local Gault Clay, while others are concentrating on the study of the London Clay fossils of Kent and Essex. Four members have successfully produced and published the guide book, 'London Clay Fossils of the Isle of Sheppey'. Other members have developed a project to produce a guide to the rocks and geology of the Weald in CD format.

The society caters for all people interested in the Earth Sciences. Present members are particularly involved with fossils, micro minerals, geology and cutting thin sections. The combined knowledge amongst the members of the society on the Kent deposits of London Clay, Gault Clay and Chalk is probably the best in the country.”

I presume the Bristol & District Lapidary Society is still in business although their website at does not see up-to-date www.ukfcg.org/bdls/index.htm.  The Society cuts and polishes semi-precious stones and also collects local rocks and fossils.  If any visitor is around for their meetings they offer tea or coffee and a biscuit.  

According to their website www.suewardell.co.uk/kingston_lapidary.htm “the Kingston Lapidary Society was the first of its kind in England.  The Society is a group of ordinary people who have a common interest in rocks, minerals, gemstones, jewellery, fossils, and the earth sciences. No skills or knowledge are necessary for anyone wishing to join the society. All new members will be assisted in whatever specific area they are interested. If you are interested in making your own jewellery then you can learn how to cut and polish semi-precious stones. All the equipment is available.”
 

The final UK club that I was able to locate is The Russell Society, a “national group of amateur and professional mineralogists…who share their knowledge with others”.  Again, the Society seems to be an umbrella organization comprised of seven branches that cover different regions of Britain.  The group publishes a professional journal as well as The Russell Society Newsletter.  I found it interesting that the Newsletter contains reports on various field trips but authors must follow a created and standardized “Document Format”.  Additional information is at www.russellsoc.org

I encourage club members to examine these websites as the UK clubs seem to have a number of innovative activities that could be of interest to US clubs.  In addition, perhaps some society in the US would like to explore the idea of a club-club relationship, something like the sister city idea prized by communities.  Clubs could exchange newsletters and suites of specimens and just perhaps some sort of joint field trips (I am a dreamer).

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