Southampton Mineral & Fossil Society


All About Southampton Mineral & Fossil Society

Newspaper clipping from 1971

Local newspaper clipping reporting the first meeting of the Society in 1971.

The History of SMFS

The Society was originally formed fifty years ago in April 1971 as Southampton Lapidary Society reflecting the great interest in the cutting and polishing of stones around that time. In 1972 the name was changed to Southampton Mineral & Lapidary Society as a consequence of more people being interested purely in minerals. With a number of members being interested in fossils and a growth of popularity in studying and collecting fossils the name was changed again in 1985 to Southampton Mineral, Fossil & Lapidary Society (SMFLS). Finally in 1992, with a general decline in the lapidary side of the hobby, lapidary was dropped from the name and we became Southampton Mineral & Fossil Society with the aims to foster interest and expertise in the collecting, conservation and identification of minerals and fossils and, where possible, preserve and document the sites where they are found.

The Society is one of the oldest of its kind in the UK and has achieved a considerable amount over the last forty years. SMFS is a very well known and respected Society for the contribution its members have made to the knowledge of minerals and fossils. John Thomas, a founder mentioned in the newspaper clipping left, is still an active member of the Society.

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Mendips quarry

Collecting minerals in a quarry in the Mendips.

About SMFS

We are a friendly group of people sharing a common interest in collecting and studying minerals and fossils. Throughout the year we hold both indoor meetings and field trips. New members are always welcome and we encourage families with young children to join and hold special sessions for beginners. We meet monthly, on the third Tuesday of the month, in Southampton where we have illustrated talks and activities relating to our hobby. Field trips are organised throughout the year, to various locations throughout the country, for the collection of minerals and fossils, visiting museums and special exhibitions and shows. Unfortunately there are restrictions on taking children into working quarries but there are many other sites where children can collect safely. All trips are properly organised with permissions granted where collecting is undertaken on private property. We also have long weekend visits to other parts of the country to collect at classic sites such as in Cornwall and Devon, Derbyshire and Weardale.

Each year the Society organises the Hampshire Mineral & Fossil Show in September and also participates in other shows and events around the country with displays and stands promoting the Society and our interest in mineral and fossil collecting.

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Charmouth nodule

Nodule from the Jurassic, Lower Lias, Green Ammonite Beds at Charmouth.
Collected by Phil on an SMFS trip March 1991.


Ammonite Androgynoceras capricornus from the Jurassic, Lower Lias, at Charmouth.
Ammonite diameter = 100 mm. Phil James specimen prepared from the nodule shown above.

Leioceras opalinum

Ammonite Leioceras opalinum, Burton Bradstock, Dorset.
Ammonite = 90 mm. P. James prepared specimen.

You really should join!

A few thoughts from our Chairman, Phil James.

Hobbies are an important part of everyday life. Sharing those hobbies with other like-minded people is just a great way of making sure you continue and develop your enthusiasm.

When I first joined the Society in 1980 I had already been interested in fossils since a child but joining a club opened up a whole new world to me. I found there were members with wide ranging interests from fossils to minerals, general geology, dinosaurs, and lots more besides.

My narrow range interest blossomed into new and exciting areas. I have collected and enjoyed minerals alongside fossils, and been involved in various aspects of the club's activities, from serving on the committee, giving talks, preparing displays, helping to run our annual show, and putting together annual programmes of talks and field trips. Members chose how much to get involved and may simply just enjoy coming to the monthly meetings.

Most importantly over the 40 years or so that I have been a member I have made many new friends. Some I have known throughout this time, some have moved away but still remain friends, some have sadly passed away. New members continue to arrive and become friends. It is just a great bunch of people of all ages who share a common interest.

So if you have an interest in any aspect of our hobby do come along to our meetings, meet our members, join the Society, and basically get more out of your hobby. You don't need to live in Southampton; we have members from across Hampshire and into Dorset, and beyond. You are welcome to try a few meetings for free before you make up your mind to join.

We look forward to seeing you.

Phil's signature

Would you like to have the opportunity to collect spectacular specimens and learn how they can be prepared like these? Membership of the Society will give you that opportunity as you can meet people with the knowledge on where to collect and how to prepare and curate your specimens. If you are interested in joining SMFS then please go to our Membership Page.

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