Men of Warrington: influence and deeds in North West England [AGM]

Dr Diana Leitch
27th September 2018, 7:30pm

Warrington, situated at a crossing point on the River Mersey, has a distinguished history dating back to Roman times. This thriving industrial town in the late 18th and early 19th century produced men who were to influence the creation of institutions such as the Manchester Literary and Philosophical Society, further humanitarian causes and education in Manchester, and create one of the biggest foundries and chemical works in the North West region. 


This lecture will discuss the lives of brothers William and Samuel Gaskell and their cousin Holbrook Gaskell, all of whom descended from sailcloth manufacturers in Warrington, as well as Dr Thomas Percival and Reverend Thomas Barnes, who were among the founders of the Lit and Phil. Their relationship to Joseph Priestley, the Roscoe family, the engineer James Nasmyth, and the builder of the Portico Library, David Bellhouse, will be explored as will the influence of the Warrington Academy on them all. Samuel Gaskell FRCS, the younger brother of Unitarian minister William, husband of Elizabeth Gaskell, was a founder of the professional association that became the Royal College of Psychiatrists and gave his name to Gaskell House in Manchester. 


About the Speaker

At the AGM before this talk Dr Diana Leitch will cease to be the President of the Manchester Literary and Philosophical Society, having completed her two years in post, and will become the immediate Past President of the Society. In the role of President she was proud to follow in the footsteps of John Dalton and many other distinguished scientists.


Diana was born and brought up in Runcorn at the heart of the old north-west chemical industry and some of her ancestors hailed from Warrington and its surrounding areas. She was educated at The Queen’s School in Chester, then at The University of Edinburgh where she was awarded a BSc and PhD in chemistry. Her subsequent career followed the interesting route of chemical information provision and she was involved for many years at national and international level in the creation and delivery of digitised scientific resources for academia and industry serving on the JISC Electronic Resources Committee. She worked for over 35 years at the John Rylands University Library of Manchester rising to be the Deputy University Librarian and Associate Director of the John Rylands Library prior to retirement in 2008. She was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry (FRSC) in 2004, the only academic librarian ever to hold that honour, and was awarded an MBE in 2014 for ‘services to chemistry’. She is a Trustee of the Catalyst Science Discovery Centre and Museum in Widnes. Diana is a regular and popular speaker to groups in the North West of England on scientific and historical topics and a writer of local history books and articles.


Photo Credit:

Manchester Art Gallery


Menu for Supper

Steamed salmon with a saffron cream sauce served with new potatoes and seasonal vegetables

Brie and beetroot tartlets

Chocolate fudge cake

Fresh fruit salad

N.B. the Lit & Phil office have to inform venues of catering numbers approximately 7 days before an event so please make sure you book as early as possible to avoid disappointment.