The Bath Geological Society owes its existence to an article in the Bath Chronicle dated 22nd March 1967 by a reporter, Robert Senior, entitled “Do we really want to keep these fossils?”.
This article was about the buildings in Queen Square and the collections of the former Royal Bath Literary and Scientific Institution.
A number of letters appeared in the Chronicle during the next few editions and resulted in the writers of those letters meeting together to see what could be done to safeguard the collections.
During the next few months, correspondence passed between one of the writers, Mr R T Whitaker, and the Director of the City of Bath Libraries, Mr P Pagan. This exchange of letters enabled the Curator’s Assistant, Mr R Pickford, together with Mr R Whitaker to put forward proposals to the City Council for a modest display of Geology at Queen Square and also to provide much needed geological storage boxes and racking for stored specimens.
On the 11th July 1967 the Library and Art Gallery Committee of Bath City Council agreed to the proposals and it was on the 28th March 1968 that the present geological display was officially opened. All of the work in setting up the exhibition was due entirely to the efforts of Mr R Pickford.
It was, however, not until early in 1970 that a meeting was held in the Geological Museum at Queen Square and at that meeting the idea of forming a Geological Society was made. Attending that meeting were Miss A R Davison, Mr R Pickford and Mr R T Whitaker. The Society would promote interest in all aspects of geology and support the development of the museum. In March 1970 a brief questionnaire was distributed and a statement sent to the Evening Chronicle to enquire if there would be sufficient support for a Society. After receiving over a hundred favourable replies, a Steering Committee made preparations for a public meeting.
The Inaugural meeting of the Bath Geological Society was held on the 25th September 1970 at the Adult Studies Centre of Bath University. The guest speaker was Professor D T Donovan of University College, London, who gave a lecture on the subject of William Smith and his association with the Bath area. The Chairman of the meeting, Mr R T Whitaker, opened a discussion on the formation of the Society. The aims were considered to be the encourage of local geological activities such as the work of the museum and the provision of educational lectures and field trips. The Society would welcome laymen and specialists as members. An Annual General Meeting would be held and yearly subscriptions paid by members. A programme of meetings would be prepared by an elected committee. At the conclusion of the meeting, a formal proposal was made and accepted unanimously by all attending that the Bath Geological Society should be formed.
The first Annual General Meeting was held on the 134th May 1971 in the Kimball Room at 18 Queen Square. At the meeting a consitution was approved and the first officers and committee members were elected. They were:
CHAIRMAN Mr Robert Whitaker SECRETARY Miss Ann Davison TREASURER Mr David Robertson COMMITTEE Dr John Andrews, Mr Ron Pickford, Mr David Wood, Mr Phillip Hewett, Mr Jeremy Lavis
A subscription of 50 pence for adults and 25 pence for junior members was agreed but the amount would be reviewed at any future Annual General Meeting. A pattern of regular meetings on the second Thursday of each month was established for lectures and club sessions. Field trips were arranged, mostly at weekends, and included half day local visits or two-day expeditions to areas in other regions.
The Society owes much of its early success to the willingness of guest speakers to give their time and enthusiasm to provide lectures on a wide range of topics and to those who organised a variety of field trips. A nucleus of loyal members attended meetings regularly.