Past news

Archived news items from the website are listed below.

If you have a query about any old newsletters from the society, please contact the office and they can consult the Society's archives.


Office closure over Christmas

19th December, 2019

Please note, the Lit & Phil office is closed from 5pm on Thursday 19th December until 9am on Monday 6th January.  Here's wishing you a very merry Christmas!

It is with sadness we announce the recent death of Michael Oglesby CBE, a member (with his wife Jean) of the Lit & Phil from 2008 to 2018 – when he retired due to ill health.  During that time his Oglesby Charitable Trust most generously sponsored the production of our ‘John Dalton Selected Papers’.  125 copies of some of the papers which John Dalton presented to the Manchester Literary and Philosophical Society between 1794 and 1805 are in this hard-backed book, and we present them to some of our speakers when they talk on relevant subjects.

Michael Oglesby was a Manchester-based property entrepreneur, with an amazing philanthropic spirit, with much involvement in the life of the city and region.  His company Bruntwood apparently owns about 20% of the office space in Manchester, as well as being involved in similar activity in other Northern cities.  He started from scratch and became adept at using many of the old industrial buildings already in the area from the time of the industrial revolution.

He was also heavily involved in the civic life of Greater Manchester, including roles in the universities and local government.  The family’s Charitable Trust was set up in 1993, supporting a very wide range of charities all over the North West – 10% of the company’s profits still go into this Trust.  He also played a leading role at the Royal Northern College of Music, at Chetham’s School of Music, and at the Royal Exchange Theatre.  His family have now taken up the reins of his business and philanthropic commitments, continuing in Michael’s commitments to both commerce and community involvement. We send them our great sympathy for their loss.


Members who attended the lecture by Sir Tom Devine, ‘The Scottish political earthquake and the future of the union’ on 20th October 2015 may remember the items which member Heather Turner brought to the meeting and displayed on the table.  The plaid was worn at the Battle of Culloden by an ancestor, John Moir and the carved oak pew panel dated 1696 came from a church in Logie Coldstone in Aberdeenshire. 

Heather showed the artefacts to Tom who said they were of national importance and suggested the National Museum of Scotland as a suitable home for them. As a result of a meeting at the National Museum of Scotland on 8th October 2019 Heather donated the plaid and panel to the museum so that they will be preserved for future generations. They will be available to view in the archives and eventually go on display in a gallery.



Autumn 2019 progamme launch

6th September, 2019


On this day in 1766 John Dalton was born and on this auspicious occasion we launch our 238th season. Booking is now open for all Autumn events to Members.

The complete list of Autumn events is accessible here and an interactive version of the brochure can be found here.



Here are some pictures from a very interesting and informative trip on 5 August 2019 around the new RHS Bridgewater Gardens, being created in Salford (as you can see there is still a lot of work to do!).

We thank them very much for allowing us to go on a pre-opening tour (19 members of Lit & Phil attended) and look forward to them being open to the public in 2020, and for allowing us to publish these photos.

We especially liked the 6 pigs who were busily clearing some of the ground!





The Lit & Phil’s annual Percival Lecture took place on Wednesday 15 May, hosted by the University of Manchester (they, along with the University of Salford and the Manchester Metropolitan University sponsor this lecture on a rotational basis once every 3 years).

We were very pleased that this year the event took place in the beautiful Grand Hall of the Whitworth Art Gallery. Indeed, we had not one, but two very prestigious speakers – Alistair Hudson, the Director of the Whitworth and Manchester Art Galleries, and Esme Ward, the director of Manchester Museum. Both had taken up their posts in early 2018 and have some very exciting plans for their respective institutions.



Their chosen title was ‘University cultural engagement in the 21-st century- case studies from the Directors of the Whitworth and Manchester Museum’ . We heard about how both the Art Gallery and the Museum are increasingly engaging with the citizens and students of Manchester, in ways which are relevant to the 21st Century, along with preserving our past heritages in both traditional and diverse ways.




David Brooks

29th May, 2019


We are sad to report that David Brooks, who had been with the Society since 2005 passed away. He will be sadly missed by the friends he made during his time with us.

David was also part of the Manchester Statistical Society who advised that his funeral will be held at 12.15 p.m. on Thursday, 30th May at Rowan Chapel Stockport Crematorium, Buxton Rd, Stockport, SK2 6LS.


Rev Dr Richard Hills

23rd May, 2019


We were saddened to hear about the passing of Rev Dr Richard Hills aged 82 earlier this month.

Rev Dr Richard Hills was one of the Society’s longest-standing members, having joined in 1968. He had been awarded an Honorary membership and was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2015 New Year Honours for services to Industrial Heritage.


In the words of fellow member and friend David Higginson:

In the case of the Society’s award of honorary membership, it was very much in respect of his recording over almost 50 years the part played by Manchester as birthplace of the Industrial Revolution, not least in helping to secure Liverpool Road Station as the iconic site for the city’s Museum of Science and Industry. He was also recognised internationally as an authority on the history of paper and papermaking and of water, wind and steam power.


The funeral will take place on the Tuesday, 4th June,2019 at 12.30 p.m. at the Parish Church of St.Michael and All Angels, Mottram-in -Longdendale, SK14 6JB, with service and committal at 2.00 p.m. at Dukinfield Crematorium Hall Green Road, Dukinfield, SK16 4EP.


No flowers

Donations in his memory to Parkinson’s UK and Willow Wood Hospice.

Please send these to:

Frank Massey & Son, Ltd., Funeral Directors, 49, Mottram Road, Hyde SK14 2NN


Stuart Kay

21st May, 2019


We are sad to report to Members that Stuart Kay passed away on 9 May.

Stuart joined the Society in 1968 and was a well-respected member who will be remembered fondly by the many friends he made during his time with us.


We were not directly given any information about the funeral but the funeral directors published the following notice:

“The funeral will take place on Tuesday, 21st May with service and committal at Oldham Crematorium at 12noon.

Family flowers only please, donations in lieu if desired to Alzheimer's Society c/o Pogson & Armitage Ltd, 53 Huddersfield Road, Diggle, Saddleworth OL3 5NT To whom all enquiries should be made Tel: 01457 872149”.


Uncovering the Past

11th March, 2019


The forthcoming 'Dig Greater Manchester' lecture by Dr Mike Nevell on Thursday 14th March 2019 at the MCC will look at the aim, scope and outcomes of this community archaeology project; which ran from 2011 to 2017 and involved excavating eleven sites in Greater Manchester, ranging from textile mills and workers' housing to owners' houses and a cavalry barracks.

We in the office are especially looking forward to this archaeology-themed lecture as we recently heard a rather unusual story concerning the rediscovery of the John Dalton Bronze Bust...


Sir Henry Roscoe commissioned a bust of John Dalton from a noted sculptress Ruby Winifred Levick and presented it as a gift to the Society in 1903. It was displayed in the Society's House at 36 George Street until the fateful night in December 1940 when, during the Blitz, the building was burned to the ground and the bust presumed lost.

Twenty years later, a new home for the Lit and Phil was erected on the same site on George Street. It was, unfortunately, constructed with high-alumina cement and suffered what was popularly known as "concrete cancer". By 1980, the building was beyond repair and the site was sold to French Kier Property Investments who demolished it. It was while deep foundations were being dug for an office block  that the excavator hit an object that was soon identified as the lost bronze. It had suffered some damage and the developers made an extremely generous gesture, paying for its restoration by Phoebe Clements of Leeds City Art Gallery. The restored bust was re-presented to the Society in November 1981 at what was appreciatively described  in the Annual Report as "a quite splendid lunch" at the Hotel Piccadilly.

In subsequent years, it was displayed at the Museum of Science and Industry. It has now been returned to the Society's current premises where it keeps the office staff company.


We look forward to seeing you at this week's event!