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.



HOME are offering members of the Manchester Lit & Phil a discount on tickets to see the award-winning play Rose. For more information about the piece and how to claim the discount, please see the information below.



The Story of a Century 25 May-10 June

One of the leading actors of her generation, Academy Award nominee Janet Suzman makes a rare return to the stage in this one-actor tour de force.
HOME presents the first UK revival of Martin Sherman’s award-winning Rose, which premiered in 1999 at the National Theatre.
From her home in Miami, Florida, eighty-year-old Rose takes us on a journey through her long and tumultuous life, a life that charts the fate of Europe's Jews through the Twentieth Century and into the Millennium. A journey which begins in the shtetls of Eastern Europe and continues through Nazi-occupied Warsaw, British Mandate Palestine, America, Israel and the Occupied Territories. It is an epic story of persecution, displacement and survival told with passion, pathos and a wild humour. As the current refugee crisis engulfs Europe, and America’s history as a home for the persecuted comes under serious threat, this revival of Rose is topical and timely. 
Rose is directed by Richard Beecham, whose production of Arthur Miller’s epic Playing for Time at the Sheffield Crucible garnered rave reviews.
For performance times, venue details and bookings visit or call the box office on 0161 200 1500.


Janet Suzman


Director Richard Beecham
Designer Simon Kenny 
Lighting Designer Chris Davey 
Sound Designer Adrienne Quartly
Voice Coach Patsy Rodenburg 
Dramaturg Petra Tauscher 
Assistant Director Samuel Ward 


£26.50 - £10 
Concessions, groups and schools offers available. 
Subject to availability.

Lit & Phil Members click here to view discount information (you must be logged into your Member account to view)


Click the poster above to view the full information



In January of this year, the passing away of JOHN SPENCER BUCKLEY was reported to the Society. This obituary has been written by Sir Netar Mallick (Immediate Past President) with the contribution of John’s daughters, Helen and Charlotte.

John was born in Southport on 28th July 1943 to Margaret and Jack. His father was a public health inspector and his mother worked in healthcare. John spent his early years in Kendal, Cumbria, before moving to Heywood. He attended Heywood Grammar School and then studied architecture in Wigan.

John set up his own architectural firm, located in the city centre of Manchester and worked on a range of commercial and retail developments across the North West. John lived a life of service – to Manchester and to business. He was area chairman and a National Councillor of the Round Table, an active member of the Manchester Chamber of Commerce supporting Manchester’s bids for the Olympic Games and the successful hosting of the Commonwealth Games in 2002, and later a Governor at Salford City College. 

Outside of the professional sphere, John was a lifelong Bury Football Club fan watching the “Shakers” both home and away for over 60 years. He was also a lover of cricket and was a member of Lancashire County Cricket Club for many years. He was also a long standing member of the St James’s Club in Manchester.

John was a dedicated supporter of the Manchester Literary and Philosophical Society. This Society, founded in 1781 and one of the oldest in the country, is part of the warp and weft of the life of Manchester, attracting both academic and professional members from a wide catchment.  As such it was always going to attract John’s interest. He studied its history, regularly attended its meetings and eventually became a member of its Council and then its Secretary. He was not afraid of challenging anyone who he thought was not seeing the wood for the trees and insisted on developing a business-like approach which his successor is continuing.

John was a man full of intellectual curiosity, always learning. He travelled the world – Hong Kong, America, India and Europe – to further his understanding of history, culture and architecture and was planning to visit Israel and Palestine. He willingly gave of himself to those causes he cared for, supporting many voluntary causes over the course of his life. Most of all he was a good friend to many, dependable, caring and good humoured.

He married Susan Janet Maslin in 1977, and Sue was by his side throughout his career as his company secretary until she sadly died of Motor Neurone Disease in 2007.

John leaves two daughters Charlotte and Helen.

Following John's passing, a donation page was set up by his daughter Charlotte to raise money for the Motor Neurone Disease Association in memory of both John and his wife Susan. The webpage is still open for donations should anyone still wish to give money. Click here to view the Just Giving page.

New Blue Plaque Unveiling

29th March, 2017

The 250th Anniversary of John Dalton's birth was celebrated last year and to mark the occasion, the Royal Society of Chemistry created a new blue plaque commemorating the scientist, which was presented to the CEO of Joseph Holt breweries for its installation on one of their public houses. The presentation of the plaque was held on the same day as the Lit and Phil's Dalton Lecture, which was given in October 2016 by Professor Sir Kostya Novoselov.

The new RSC blue plaque celebrating our longest-serving President was unveiled on Monday 27 March 2017 at the Ape and Apple public house on John Dalton street. The President of the Lit and Phil, Dr Diana Leitch, was present at the unveiling along with Richard Kershaw (CEO of Joseph Holt) Professor David Garner FRS (Past President of the Royal Society of Chemistry), Dr Frank Mair (Chair of the Royal Society of Chemistry, Manchester section), Dr Marloes Peeters (Manchester Metropolitan University), Dr James Sumner (University of Manchester), and Gerald Hayes (Member of the Lit and Phil and RSC Historical Group).

Photos from the Blue Plaque Unveiling (taken by Dr David Leitch)

Richard Kershaw CEO of Joseph Holt's Brewery (founded 1849)  - great great grandson of Joseph Holt, President Dr Diana Leitch. Professor David Garner FRS, Past President of Royal Society of Chemistry

Dalton Entry next to Ape and Apple Pub

L-R: Gerald Hayes (Lit & Phil member and RSC Historical Group), Prof. David Garner, Dr Diana Leitch, Dr Frank Mair  (Chair of RSC Manchester Section), Dr Marloes Peeters (MMU), Dr James Sumner (University of Manchester) , Richard Kershaw (CEO Joseph Holt's Brewery)

President of Lit and Phil presents copy of John Dalton papers to Prof David Garner FRS Past President of the Royal Society of Chemistry who unveiled the plaque


Manchester Musical Youth

11th January, 2017

Many Lit & Phil members asked for details of Manchester Musical Youth's upcoming productions following their impressive performance at the Lit & Phil's Christmas event in December. We would like to thank the group and their excellent mentors for providing such top quality entertainment, a lovely evening was had by all.

As a way to support the young musical group, we are providing details of their next production (below). It is understood that the Saturday performance is already sold out so advance booking is highly recommended. Anyone considering booking should do so by contacting Z Arts via phone or online.

Manchester Musical Youth presents: Legally Blonde – The Musical

22 - 25 February 2017


Z-arts, Manchester, M15 5ZA

Tickets: £15 Adult, £10 Concession

Call: 0161 226 1912 or Visit:

Music and Lyrics by Laurence O'Keefe and Nell Benjamin. Book by Heather Hach.
Based on the novel by Amanda Brown and the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer motion picture


When the new arts centre HOME opened in 2015, The Daily Telegraph’s Arts critic Rupert Christiansen suggested that Manchester’s culture was dominated by football, and wondered if  there were things that the city needed more urgently than arts venues – such as clearing litter black spots, planting trees and improving sports facilities in parks.

Do you agree – or does such a view raise your blood pressure?

We want to know your views – so come along to a lively debate on Wednesday 3rd May 2017 at the newly built Stoller Hall at Chetham's School of Music, and put your questions to a distinguished panel chaired by Arts supremo Felicity Goodey CBE (top centre), former senior BBC journalist and presenter, who has spearheaded major arts and regeneration projects in the North West.

Our panel members are:  Actor and Director Wyllie Longmore (top right);  Nick Merriman (bottom centre), Director of Manchester Museum;  Dave Moutrey (bottom left), Director and Chief Executive of HOME;  David Thacker (top left), Professor of Theatre at Bolton University and Associate Artistic Director of Bolton Octagon and Eleanor Underhill (bottom right), General Manager of Quarry Bank Mill.

Afterwards, guests will have the chance to carry on the discussion over drinks and a light buffet.  It promises to be a stimulating event.

Booking is now open on the Stoller Hall website, which you can find by clicking here. Please note that this event is organised by the Lit & Phil but the booking for the event is managed by the Stoller Hall. All booking queries should be directed to the Stoller Hall team.

The Stoller Hall




The Percival Lecture is a special event in the Lit & Phil’s annual calendar where the lecture is hosted by one of the three universities of Manchester and Salford on a rotary basis (University of Manchester, Manchester Metropolitan University and University of Salford). This year the University of Salford will be our hosts for the evening where Professor Robin Bargar will address the Society about the future of the digital and creative industries in the UK and the global influence of MediaCityUK at Salford Quays.


The Future of Digital+Creative and Global Role of MediaCityUK

The emerging digital economy is forged from a convergence of technological and creative practices, including computation, informatics, design, and media making in the broadest sense. This convergence yields demand for skills and business perspectives that synthesise and leverage digital and creative workflows and outputs. The global consequences have been disruptive economically, culturally and politically. The impact has been bidirectional: creativity influencing technology as much as the reverse, launching new areas of opportunity and industry relationship for media making and media impact. The entire media process has been changed and continues to change: from conception through production through distribution through audience response and interaction. Networks and digital data are inherent to the process and are increasingly oriented to media as a major business development direction, as well as a contributing factor in non-media enterprise. All of these carry implications for the role of MediaCItyUK and its constituents, contributing to the economic and creative future of Greater Manchester and the North. 

Professor Robin Bargar – Profile

Robin Bargar has a creative and research background in computer music and sound synthesis, interactive media and virtual reality, including software development and systems integration for cross-media applications. In 2015 Robin joined University of Salford as founding Executive Director of the Studio for International Media and Technology at MediaCityUK, with a joint appointment as Professor in the School of Arts and Media and the School of Computing Sciences and Engineering. He leads the University’s Digital and Creative Industry Collaboration Zone, which develops industry collaborations with interdisciplinary teams across the university.

From 2011 to 2015 Robin was Dean of the School of Media Arts at Columbia College Chicago and Professor of Interactive Arts and Media. From 2004 to 2010 Robin was Dean of the School of Technology and Design and Professor of Entertainment Technology at the City University of New York.

Trained as a composer and filmmaker, Robin received a Doctor of Musical Arts from the School of Music, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, with related studies in computer graphics and computer science. He served on the School of Music faculty and as a researcher at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications and the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology. From 1992-2000 he led the Audio Development Group in software development and prototyping media performance in the CAVE virtual environment. In the Beckman Institute Robin also served as Director of the Integrated Systems Laboratory, an interdisciplinary environment for simulation, prototyping and data visualization. Robin later served as Director and CEO of Hexagram, the Institute for Research and Creation in Media Arts and Technologies, in Montréal. Robin’s creative work has been presented on MTV, in commercial cinema release, and at international forums including Ars Electronica, ISEA, Imagina Festival, ACM SIGGraph and the Bourges International Electro-Acoustic Music Competition. He received an Oscar nomination for Best Short Film (Animated) and was awarded two US Patents for interactive sound and media technologies.

Please note that this event is for Members Only.



We have discovered that Oxford Road is going to be completely closed in both directions between Hathersage Road and Booth Street and Brunswick Street is also going to be totally and permanently closed at both ends from 22nd October. The latter is the road that both Chemistry and Physics Department have as their frontage at the Upper Brook Street end. It is also closed to pedestrians.

We hope that the following information is helpful to get you to the relevant departments for the Dalton events:

Car Parking – the only major car park on that part of the campus is the Aquatics Centre Car Park which is reached off Booth Street East.

Car Parking (disabled) – there are a few car parking spaces in front of Chemistry which have to be pre-booked and are accessible off Dover Street.  If you want one of these contact either (0161 275 4686) or (quote Diana Leitch/Dalton) and ask if one can be reserved for you.

Travel by bus – all buses are being diverted off Oxford Road as it is totally closed to all forms of traffic but this is advantageous as long as you accept you will need to leave earlier than usual as there will be a lot of traffic.

You may choose to leave your car somewhere where you can then get on a bus.

All 40s and 140s (42, 142, 43, 143, etc) are being diverted off Oxford Road at Hathersage Road along Upper Brook Street and there is a bus stop just next to the Chemistry Dept at the top of Brunswick Street. If you get off here then walk back a few yards to Dover Street and walk down a few yards to a barrier where pedestrians are being diverted to Brunswick Street. Signs are up to divert people.

Similarly, the 50 bus which starts at Parrs Wood Bus Station next to the Parrs Wood Metro Station and East Didsbury Railway Station passes along Upper Brook Street on its way to the centre of town, going  down John Dalton Street and on to Salford.

Obviously if you want to go in the opposite direction on the above buses you will get on at the bus stop on the opposite side of Upper Brook Street.

The 147 bus which starts at Fairfield Street by Piccadilly Station and runs to the hospitals on Oxford Road is also being diverted and will go along Upper Brook Street. If you are coming from Piccadilly get off at the bus stop by the Tai Pan Restaurant/Chinese Emporium, cross the road at the traffic lights and follow the pedestrian diversion signs down Dover Street.

Travel by taxi or car drop off  - this has to be done by turning from Upper Brook Street into Dover Street and walking the pedestrian route.


Please allow plenty of time and we do have to have a prompt start at 4pm with the reception drinks followed by the plaque presentations. The buffet for those who have booked is from 5pm onwards. 


Car Park Changes at RNCM

26th September, 2016

Due to current building and road works around the Royal Northern College of Music, there have been some changes to car parking arrangements which Members should be aware of when attending lectures.

Usually Members park in the multi-storey off Higher Cambridge Street which is owned by the University of Manchester (car park D). This is still available to use, but the routes into and out of the car park have changed due to the construction of the new Crowne Plaza Hotel and Business School, which are due for completion in 2017 and 2018 respectively. Entrance to the car park is now via a newly laid road from Higher Cambridge street (opp. Trinity High School), instead of the road off Booth Street West (opp. RNCM) which is now closed for building site access. This also means that walking to RNCM from this car park follows the diversion via Higher Cambridge Street rather than via Higher Chatham Street.

There is a map on the Manchester Business School website which shows the current route to and from the car park (green arrows). You can view this here:

For alternative car parks, you can use the secure underground car park, located next to RNCM in the basement of the Sir Charles Groves Hall of Residence, off Rosamond Street West (£3.50 per car, payable on entry to the car park). There is also an NCP car park by the Aquatics Centre off Booth Street East.

RNCM does have car parking spaces at the rear of the venue which are reserved for Blue Badge holders. If you require the use of one, please let the office know and they will book you a space.

Please allow an extra 10 minutes for your arrival to lectures at RNCM to account for any delay caused by the change in the parking situation.



Photo credit:


Today marks the 250th Anniversary of John Dalton's birth. He was famous for his atomic theory of chemistry and was a member of the Manchester Literary and Philosophical Society from 1794 until his death in 1844. During this time he was successively Secretary, Vice President and President, a post he held for his last 28 years. Much of his original research was done in a laboratory at the Society’s George Street House. A paper was presented by Dalton to the Society in October, 1803 which contained one of the greatest statements of modern science; namely:

“An enquiry into the relative weights of the ultimate particles of gaseous and other bodies is a subject, as far as I know, entirely new; I have lately been prosecuting this enquiry with considerable success”.

Sadly the majority of Dalton manuscripts were lost in the 1940 blitz. However some remaining artefacts are held on loan from the Society by the Manchester Museum of Science and Industry and the University of Manchester.

Coincidentally, BBC Radio 4 is currently running a series about all things Northern with Melvyn Bragg. This morning's episode focussed on Manchester and talks about John Dalton and the Manchester Lit and Phil. You can listen to it on the BBC website by clicking here.

Upcoming Dalton-related Events

In celebration of the 250th anniversary of John Dalton's birth, Cockermouth & District Civic Trust have organised a packed weekend of Dalton-related events and activities as part of Heritage Open Days. This takes place between Thursday 8th to Sunday 11th September 2016. Click here for more information.

The Lit & Phil will be presenting the Dalton medal to graphene pioneer and Nobel Prize winner, Professor Sir Kostya Novoselov FRS on 26th October. Professor Novoselov will also be giving the Dalton lecture on 'The History of sp2 Carbon in England' on the same evening. Click here for more information.

In September 1766, John was born in Eaglesfield, the son of a village weaver. He became a world famous scientist, particularly for his work in developing atomic theory, but also for developing the science of meteorology and the understanding of colour blindness. September 2016 is the 250th anniversary of John's birth. The Civic Trust feels that this is an anniversary to celebrate and invites you to attend a number of activities in linked events in both Eaglesfield and Cockermouth over the Heritage Open Days Weekend.

Friday Sept 9th 6.30pm to 7.30pm


Sat Sept 10th 10am to 4pm Kirkgate Centre

Exhibition on the Life & Work of John Dalton Cockermouth Heritage Group is holding an exhibition on the life & work of John Dalton in the Egremont Room of the Kirkgate Centre. This exhibition will also form part of the Heritage Group Summer Exhibition during August.

Organised by Cockermouth Heritage Group

Friday Sept 9th 7.30pm

Kirkgate Centre

Tickets available in advance from the Kirkgate Centre

admission free

A lecture on 'John Dalton, A Cumbrian Philosopher' by Thomas Fletcher Smith, based on his book of the same title.  Dr Tom Smith will tell the story of the man behind the science, a man generally thought to be a Mancunian, as this is where he lived and worked as an adult, but whose heart always belonged to the Land of the Lakes.

Tom Smith is a Cumbrian and a retired Chemist, who started his working life at Sellafield, obtained his PhD in Manchester and spent more than 45 years in the chemical and allied industries.

Organised by Cockermouth & District Civic Trust

Sat Sept 10th 9am to 11am

Eco Centre

Cockermouth School

History of Science Teaching since John Dalton's Time

Science teaching has changed dramatically since John Dalton learnt Science 250 years ago. The exhibition looks at the evolution of the science curriculum, teaching methods, student teacher relationships and technology in the classroom to compare Dalton's Science learning to that of Cockermouth School pupils today.

The exhibition will be put together by the students at the school and will be displayed in the modern Eco Centre.

Organised by the Science Dept, Cockermouth School

Sat Sept 10th 10am & 12.30pm

Starting in Old Kings Arms Lane

(return transport available)

Walk the John Dalton Way to Eaglesfield

The Nuclear Striders Walking Group have created a new 45km walk in celebration of John Dalton 250. It is called the 'John Dalton Way'. It starts in Old Kings Arms Lane, Cockermouth, passes through Eaglesfield & continues to Seascale, passing Calder Hall, the first commercial atomic power station. A guide book is available. For John Dalton 250, there will be 2 guided walks along the first 6km of the trail to Eaglesfield. Families welcome.

Organised by the Nuclear Striders Walking Group

Sat Sept 10th 10am to 4pm

Eaglesfield Village Hall 

(transport between Cockermouth & Eaglesfield available)

Historic Eaglesfield & John Dalton Exhibition, - and light refreshments.

The exhibition will include:

- An exhibition of John Dalton's Life, including portraits of John Dalton

- A print of the section of the Quaker Tapestry depicting John Dalton and peers

- Historical photographs of Eaglesfield

- Video loop of runners running the John Dalton Way

Organised by Eaglesfield Village Hall Committee

Sat Sept 10th 10am to 4pm

Obtain leaflet from Eaglesfield Village Hall

(transport from Cockermouth available)

Self guided walking tour of Historic Eaglesfield

A circular 1 mile route featuring buildings such as the John Dalton Cottage, the Friends Meeting House and other 18th  & early 19th  century properties. Information posters will be displayed on route relating to individual properties.  Occasional gardens will be open for access.

For families, an additional quiz sheet will be available for children to complete along the same tour route.

Organised by Eaglesfield Village Hall Committee

Sat Sept 10th Church Open 10am to 4.30pm

(short visits available on return bus)

John Dalton Memorial Church

The 1891 church is dedicated to St Philip and St James the Less. It was also named the 'John Dalton Memorial Church' in recognition of the fact that this eminent scientist was born within the parish & there is a commemorative plaque. Inside, there are some beautiful carvings done by Deaconess Sewel, a local woman.

Organised by St Philips & St James Church

Sat Sept 10th

Departs Bush Hotel, C'mouth: On hour from 10am to 4pm

Departs Village Hall, E'field twenty past hour 10.20am to 4.20pm

Transport between Cockermouth & Eaglesfield by Vintage Bus

A bus service is being provided so that people can attend Heritage Open Day events in both Cockermouth and Eaglesfield, or can return to Cockermouth after completing one of the Heritage Open Day guided walks on the 'John Dalton Way' from Cockermouth to Eaglesfield. On the return journey, there will be a 10 minute stop to view the John Dalton Memorial Church.

Provided by Workington Transport Heritage Trust

Other Heritage Open Days activities in Cockermouth are in the Cockermouth HODS booklet & on These include Isel Hall, Banks Ironmongers, Percy House, Masonic Hall, Cockermouth Castle & an exhibit on the Quaker response to the Military Service Act, 1916.


Organised by Cockermouth & District Civic Trust as part of Heritage Open Days.




Today marks the anniversary of the United States' Independence Day. The 4th July 1776 is known throughout the world as the date on which the British Colonists in America declared their Independence from Great Britain. This was not acknowledged by the British Parliament, however, until the treaty of 1783 formally recognised the independence of the thirteen colonies as the United States of America.


Between the Declaration of Independence and its recognition by Britain, the Manchester Literary and Philosophical Society was founded on 28th February 1781. This makes the Lit & Phil the oldest Literary and Philosophical Society in the World  and second oldest Learned Society in the United Kingdom. In the year of its foundation, Benjamin Franklin was elected Member of the Society. One his articles features in the second edition of the Manchester Memoirs entitled Meteorological Imaginations and Conjectures (click here to read). The same Memoirs also feature correspondence between Dr Franklin and another prominent member of the Society, Dr Thomas Percival, who hosted Franklin during his travels in England in 1771 (click here to read). In fact, Franklin and Percival frequently exchanged correspondence on matters of science and it was Dr Percival himself who had the occasion to write to Dr Franklin in 1785 to inform him that the Society was electing him to Honorary Member of the Society (N.B. this was called 'Extraordinary Member ' at the time).


Further material in the Society's archives include articles that other Members have written about Benjamin Franklin, such as Dr Arthur Schuster's piece On Some Remarkable Passages in the Writings of Benjamin Franklin (click here to read) and Max Beloff's account of Franklin's life in the article Benjamin Franklin: International Statesman, which was presented to the Society as the Franklin Memorial lecture on 16th January 1956. This lecture coincided with the 250th Anniversary of Franklin's birth and to further mark the occasion, the 'Franklin Commemorative Medal for Distinguished Service' was awarded to the Society on the same evening by Rolf Jacoby on behalf of the United States Congress. You can read more about the Medal, its presentation to the Society and Beloff's memorial lecture by clicking here (double-click on the page to zoom in).


Wise and Good Men are the Strength of a Nation Far More than Riches or Arms

- Quotation on the Franklin Commemorative Medal for Distinguished Service awarded to the Society in 1956

Lit & Phil library at 36 George Street

The article below was written by one of our longest-standing members, Marjorie Ainsworth, and was featured in last year's Memoirs. From people to places, it is a wonderful insight into the Society's recent history and its links to other Manchester cultural and educational institutions. 

The Olden Days at the Lit & Phil

by Marjorie Ainsworth

My late husband, Tom, and I became members of the Lit. and Phil., in 1955.  We had been recruited by a Miss Blackledge who joined in 1953.  We had made her acquaintance through our involvement with the Manchester Area Youth Film Council and her Presidential role with the Girls and Lads Club Association.  The Registered Address at that time was the Portico Library because the Society’s original Georgian house at 36 George Street, Manchester had been blown up and completely demolished by the Fire Brigade to provide a much-needed fire-break during one of the air raids in the Manchester Blitz.   Council Meetings were held there and the occasional lecture.  The first Lit & Phil event we attended was in the Reading Room at the Portico.  Although the audience was necessarily small, some of us had to sit on piles of dusty tomes as the Portico itself had not fully recovered from the effects of the Blitz.  The talk on “Abstract Impressionism” was given by two members – Marcus and Mitzi Cunliffe.  Marcus taught American Studies at the University and Mitzi was a sculptor whose best-known work is the golden BAFTA mask still in use at their Award Ceremonies.   It was the first Tom and I had heard about Jackson Pollock et al.  We were fascinated and decided there and then that joining the Society was a good move and promised an interesting and intriguing future.

There were about 350 members when we joined.  Lectures were mostly arranged by Council but Special Lectures were organised by the Chemical Section which, after a brief period as the Natural Philosophy Section became the Science and Technology Section, and the already functioning Social Philosophy Section.  The Arts Section was not formed until 1970 and the first mention of it is in the Memoirs for that year.  Margaret Pilkington was its first Chairman.  Lectures were mostly held in the Reynolds Hall at the Manchester College of Technology, later to become UMIST, the Whitworth Gallery and various venues at the University.  During this time, plans were being made for the construction of a new home on the site of the demolished building in George Street.  This was officially opened in September 1960.  Tom and I were present at the inaugural address given by the President of the Royal Society, Sir Cyril Hinshelwood, its title being “The Arts and the Sciences” a topic much discussed in intellectual circles at that time.  I have a faded photograph of much younger versions of the two of us seated on the second row on  either side of our guest, Jim Whittaker. 

During the planning stage discussions were also held about the best location for the Society’s visual aid equipment – an epidiascope and a slide projector.  It just so happened that the Manchester & Salford Film Society, of which Tom was the Chairman, was desperately seeking a new home to continue in its attempts to bring Art House and World Cinema to the people of Manchester.  Council’s agreement was obtained for the construction of a proper projection box at the rear of the lecture theatre which would accommodate the Film Society’s two 16mm projectors. 

This would kill two birds with one stone; the Film Society would have somewhere to hold its performances and the Lit & Phil, would be able to offer film projection facilities to any organisation which was hiring the theatre for its meetings.  

Film Society committee members would act as projectionists when needed.  This collaboration worked very well for all the eighteen years of the new building’s existence.  Many Manchester Societies held their meetings In the lecture theatre and were very appreciative of the facilities provided.  One such was the Scientific Film Society, of which Tom was the Chairman, mainly attended by 6th formers from local schools who were interested in the sciences.  I recall sitting through a mind-numbing series of films entitled “Corrosion, Parts 1, 2 and 3”.

Every new Season in September began with something called a “Conversatzione”.  I think we dressed up a bit, were formally greeted by the current President and then given a glass of sherry.  I don’t remember what happened after that.  There was no Young People’s Section at the time, but there was always a Christmas Lecture for the children and grandchildren of members.  This was one occasion when the Society’s splendid laboratory bench was called into action.  There were many exciting demonstrations, usually involving explosions. 

The years at George Street were interesting and exciting.  Tom and I practically lived on the premises.  When we were not arranging the Film Society events, we were often to be found in the projection box operating the slide projector or film projector for an organisation which had hired the premises, as well as attending the Lit & Phil’s own meetings.  Of the hundreds of lectures I must have attended at George Street only a few are still vivid in my mind:  Henry Lipson’s lecture about microwaves where he made a cake in a crude prototype oven of his own devising.  He passed bits of cake to the members present; it was not very nice.  Then there was Sir William Empson sporting a beard that looked like Spanish Moss telling us about “Seven Kinds of Ambiguity”.  I am afraid it was as incomprehensible to many of us as the most erudite and obscure offerings of the Science and Technology Section.  I remember being asked to look after Prof. Eysenck before his talk on “Personality Testing” which was interesting, and one occasion, when I happened to be on the premises, Mrs Garlick asked me if I would mind nipping over to Lewis’s Food Hall to get a jar of horseradish sauce to accompany the roast dinner which Council Members enjoyed before their deliberations.  Those were the days! 

Mr and Mrs Garlick were the caretakers and occupied the flat on the top floor.  Members could always pop into the House for a cup of coffee or a snack or just  nice sit down.  The Garlicks usually provided a finger buffet for consumption before lectures.  I have no happy memories of these buffets;  I can still taste the margarine.  The Arts Section buffets were always appreciated as we did our own thing.  Molly Booth sourced the quiches, Tom and I raided Makro for the pate and cheese.  We provided nice crusty bread and real butter.  Wine boxes with red and white plonk enabled us to go on serving until they were well and truly empty, and this proved to be a popular Arts Section feature. The fact that I cannot remember more of the superb lectures at George Street is a pity, but at least I know a little something must have rubbed off as I now know of more unknowns. 

It was inspiring to walk past John Dalton’s headstone, set in the wall of the porch, which had been rescued from Ardwick Cemetery.  

Just inside the front door on the left was a minute office, from which Mary Urell miraculously dealt with all the Society’s administrative tasks. 

Exterior of 36 George Street

The opening of the new house had a surprising and totally unexpected galvanising effect on a group of the more forward-looking members.  I particularly remember Leonard Cohen who owned Henry’s department store on Market Street.  His aim in life was to bring art to the masses.  He exhibited Epstein’s “Adam” in the basement of his store and donated a fountain to Piccadilly Gardens.  The new house so inspired him, he conceived the notion that George Street could become the epicentre of artistic activity in Manchester.   He actually envisaged a new Opera House could be built between 36 George Street and the Art Gallery.   His idea to have an extra storey built on the flat roof of No.36 to house an Arts Workshop accessible from the car park was, as it turned out, a structural impossibility.  As a preliminary step toward achieving some of these ambitions, a group of members including Leonard, in their own time and on their own initiative, set up the Manchester Institute of Contemporary Art, MICA.  They were not to be outdone by London where the Institute of Contemporary Art had just been opened.   Most of MICA’s events took place at the Lit & Phil house.  Tom was the film officer and I was a committee member.  We played to packed houses when films of an experimental and avant-garde nature were screened.   Some of the Lit & Phil members involved in all this activity were, as I hazily recall, Maurice Pariser – who unfortunately died before these dreams could be fulfilled, and Robert Sheldon and Edmund Dell who departed to become Labour Members of Parliament.  We had the young Seamus Heaney reading his poetry on two occasions,  a whole host of North West  poets  and many up-and-coming  artists of the day. 

These were heady days expressing the general air of post-war optimism that seemed to promise a life more exciting and interesting than heretofore.  It was undoubtedly the presence of the new, modern and accommodating building in the centre of Manchester that triggered these ambitious but finally impossible dreams.

There was only one unfortunate and unforeseen event which cause a temporary blip in relations between Lit & Phil and the Film Society.  The North West Group of the British Federation of Film Societies hired the Lit & Phil premises for one of their Annual Viewing Sessions on a Saturday afternoon.  These sessions were held for committee members of  film societies to preview newly available films which they might want to include in their future programmes.  The films came as a package direct from the British Film Institute in London and their content was unknown to the viewing panel assembled in the Lecture Theatre.   As luck would have it Canon Saxon had arranged to meet his wife in the car park when she had finished her shopping, and seeing that something was happening in the house, decided to have a look.  The film on the screen at that moment happened to be a  short subject reel by Kenneth Anger (a famous and well-regarded director) called “Fireworks”.  None of the people present had seen the film before and were oblivious as to its content.

They were just as startled as Canon Saxon to find they were looking at a pixilated and impressionistic depiction of a meeting between several gay sailors.  The matter was raised at a subsequent Council Meeting by Canon Saxon.  After a full explanation had been accepted – cordial relations were resumed and lasted for all the eighteen years of the building’s existence. Unfortunately, it eventually became apparent that something was radically wrong with the fabric of the building.  Cracks began to appear in the walls and the flat roof leaked.  The fault lay in the use of high alumina cement in its construction.   This was a wonder innovation of the 50’s lauded for its quick-drying properties.  The firms involved in the building of the house had gone into liquidation and there was no alternative but to sell the site and become peripatetic until new permanent premises could be found.  Our exodus after only eighteen years was inevitable, and inflation and rising property prices soon made a permanent home highly unlikely. I remember the admin offices in Brown Street and the Law Library, before MMU came to the rescue.  Section meetings were held in Platt Chapel, St.Thomas’s on Ardwick Green, the Withington Girls High School, the Edgar Wood Centre in Victoria Park, the Muriel Stott Centre at the University, and the Portico Library.  The Film Society was also again desperately seeking somewhere to live and was saved by the Manchester Amateur Photographic Society which had just purchase Platt Chapel in Fallowfield.

Tom was an early Chairman of the Arts Section of which I was later Secretary and then Chairman.  We were both co-opted to the Arts Section committee for many years, no doubt because of our joint long-term memory stores.  My short-term memory is now less than reliable.  Tom died in 2007 at the age of 86 but if he could see us now he would be greatly gratified to see the Literary & Philosophical Society, of which he was very fond,  flourishing and growing in spite of its past vicissitudes.  I cannot believe that I have achieved doyenneship of the Society in my 92nd year and can still remember listening to Marcus and Mitzi in 1955.

Thanks to Member Christopher Boyes, we have some photographs from the President's Annual Dinner which took place on 15th June 2016, showing the beautifully set-out Great Nave of Gorton Monastery and Lord Charles Guthrie delivering his lecture on 'A Just War'

To view the photos, please head over to our Event Photos page.


Last night was the President's Annual Dinner, marking the close of the 2015-16 Season. An enjoyable evening was had by all with dinner served in the beautiful Great Nave of Gorton Monastery and a lecture on 'A Just War' delivered by Lord Charles Guthrie. Whilst this was a relaxing way to end the Season, the Lit & Phil is not completely winding down for summer so be sure to keep an eye on our website and social media for updates about interesting summer events and previews of our upcoming Programme for 2016-17 which starts in September.

This year sees Manchester host several science-related events including Eureka!, the science-themed Manchester Day (19 June) which includes an exhibition with hands-on activities called The Brain Box at the Town Hall (19 June). There is also the Manchester City of Science (22 - 29 July) which is celebrating Manchester being the European City of Science for 2016. This gives various institutions and groups across Manchester an opportunity to host their science and technology related talks, exhibitions and events under the ECoS banner throughout the year with the officially organised events being held in the last week of July. Following the summer of science, the annual Manchester Science Festival returns in October.

In addition to this, we will be diving into the Lit & Phil archives to showcase former Members' links to the anniversaries occurring in 2016, such as Beatrix Potter and John Dalton.

Most importantly we will be releasing information over the summer about the star events in our 2016-17 Programme , including the awarding of a Dalton Medal and a panel event discussing the role of the Arts in the 'Northern Powerhouse', so watch this space!


With the weather warm, a successful Manchester Histories Festival just finished, and 2016 marking both the 250th anniversary of John Dalton's birth and Manchester as the European City of Science, what better a time to take a John Dalton walk of Manchester?

At, you can download a mobile app or a map and audio with which John Dalton himself will guide you on a tour of Manchester landmarks important to his life and works. The walk starts at the Central Library and lasts about an hour. The handy downloadable format means you can take part at any time and go at your own pace.

The website also hosts another general walk for all sites of major scientific interest in Manchester.




For just the maps, mp3 audio and the guide:

Full download of maps, audio and transcript

View the list online




St James's Club Local History Circle

Manchester Town Hall

Thursday 16th June, 11.15am

The St James’s Club invites Members of the Lit & Phil to participate in their revamped Local History Circle. Once again they welcome back Local Historian and Tour Guide, John Alker who will enlighten you on the History of Manchester Town Hall. Attendees are asked to arrive for Coffee at 11.15am. They aim to leave for Albert Square at 11.30am view the Town Hall and hear it’s history from the outside, return to the club for an illustrated talk on the famous Ford Maddox Brown, Murals around 12.30pm followed by Lunch. Attendees who would like to hear the description of the Murals only are encouraged to join the event at 12.30pm.

About the Speaker

John Alker works as a green badge guide in the city offering over 40 different walks: social and industrial history walks, art walks music and theatre walks, architectural and cultural walks, political and area walks. His background is in Music and he is a classically trained pianist who spent 30 years lecturing at different levels after completing a music degree. John is also a keen historian particularly in industrial history. He is an active poet with 7 editions as well as an active jazz musician.

About the Talk

Unfortunately Manchester's most iconic landmark and seat of Government Alfred Waterhouse's Town Hall of 1877, is suffering the same fate as its more famous cousin in Westminster, age and lack of care. This has led to the closing of the building to guided tours, members I am sure have heard of the very recent announcement that the city council, to pay for the much needed overall of this seat of local power are looking outside the box including greater use of the building for commercial events, filming and even a part conversion into a boutique hotel. These proposals are to be put out for public debate. This visit and talk will remind all members of the importance of this building to the way the citizens of this city view not just the bricks and mortar of the building but more importantly the impression the city tells about itself to the rest of the world.

Booking & Costs

The event costs £25 which includes a lunchtime meal and coffee. The meal is oven roasted chicken supreme topped with mozzarella and crispy Parma ham, served with green beans, new potatoes and a rich tomato sauce. Dessert is an apple crumble served with vanilla crème anglaise. To make your booking e-mail or telephone 0161 829 3009.



We are pleased to announce the menu and programme for the President's Annual Dinner. If you haven't booked yet, be sure to secure your place as soon as possible! Booking closes 12pm on Friday 3rd June. Click here to book your place.




Smooth chicken liver parfait, cumin and sultana purée, herb croute, watercress


Goat’s cheese panacotta, beetroot ketchup, pea shoots, honey glazed golden beets (v)


Main Course

Butter-poached farm-assured chicken, chorizo, sun-blushed tomato and basil risotto, cured ham crisp, herb oil


Sweet pea, asparagus and mint risotto, gorgonzola gnocchi (v)



Sticky toffee and date pudding with a sticky toffee, rum & banana sauce

Tea & coffee


In addition to the above, every guest is entitled to a glass of prosecco upon arrival and a choice of red or wine white with their meal.



Evening's Programme


6.30pm - Guests to arrive, drinks served in the Great Nave

7.10pm - Introduction of Lord Guthrie by Professor Sir Netar Mallick

7.15pm - Lord Guthrie delivers his lecture on 'A Just War'

8.00pm - Q&A session and closing remarks

8.20pm - Comfort break

8.30pm - Dinner served

10.30pm - Carriages



‘John Dalton’ requests the pleasure of your company on this special day,


Saturday 11 June 2016

Manchester Town Hall 10.30am – 4.00pm


Come and meet Mr Dalton at the Lit and Phil stand.

Best known for his pioneering work in developing modern atomic theory and colour blindness research, he was probably our most famous member.

His statue is in the Town Hall  - where  40,000 people filed past to pay their respects when he lay there in state after he passed away  -  but he will be “re-appearing” several times on this special day – and you might see him in a different light!  

It promises to be a fun, busy day – so do come along and say hello to your L&P team. We look forward to seeing you all.


Photograph credit:

Until the AGM was moved from June to September, the Lit and Phil year commenced with the President’s Reception in late September or early October. The requirement to audit the annual accounts and then present them to the AGM meant that this meeting had to be moved to September. This made it difficult to place the President’s Reception and it has had some differing iterations.

This year it has been decided to use it effectively to close the session and it takes place on June 15th at Gorton Monastery. This, now much-admired restoration, is the subject of a talk to us this year and we are fortunate to have good friends there who appreciate and support what we do. The event will be a lecture followed by dinner and, thanks to the Monastery and other support, the overall cost has been kept at £35 including the Reception, Dinner and Wine.

Photograph credit:

The speaker is Field Marshal Lord Guthrie, who holds the highest rank in the British Army along with Prince Charles. He has kindly agreed to come and speak to us not only to mark our Society but also to note the forthcoming Centenary of Broughton House; this, the only remaining Veterans’ Home in the North West, opened its doors in May 1917 and since then has cared for some 8000 men and women who have served in our Armed Forces or Merchant Navy. This event is joint with Broughton House as the President of the Lit & Phil is serving as Chairman of Trustees there. In celebrating a century of service the Board is seeking actively to rebuild or replace the present facilities with a new Care Village appropriate to 21st century care.

Lord Guthrie’s curriculum vitae boasts high positions, starting with his commission into the Welsh Guards in 1959 and service with Special Air Service from 1966, which saw him rise through the ranks to Colonel (1979) and then Brigadier (1981). Lord Guthrie was awarded on OBE for his tour in Northern Ireland in 1980. He later took up the posts of Professional Head of the British Army (1994 – 1997) and Chief of Defence Staff (1997 – 2001) after which he retired from the military before taking up his position in the House of Lords. He has been the Principal Military Advisor to two UK Prime Ministers and three Secretaries of State for Defence, a role that allowed him to advise on the Bosnian and Kosovo conflicts.

Outside of his professional activities, Lord Guthrie is also involved in voluntary positions and charities such as Action Medical Research (President), St. John’s Hospice (Chairman) and London Youth (President). Since 2013 he has been Chancellor of Liverpool Hope University and he also holds the honourable position of Gold Stick to the Queen.

In 2007, Lord Guthrie and Michael Quinlan (former Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Defence) co-wrote a book entitled Just War – The Just War Tradition: Ethics in Modern Warfare which explores ethics in modern warfare through the concept of the Just War Tradition. Their work looks at the origins of the tradition in Christian thinking and traces its evolving interpretation to analyse its bearing on contemporary conflicts such as Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq. The book outlines the main tenets of the concept and uses these principles of the Just War Tradition to set out a practical moral framework for modern-day warfare.

For those members wishing to acquaint themselves with the subject, the book is published by Bloomsbury Publishing and it is available, along with other books on the subject, from Amazon and other booksellers.

Lord Guthrie has thought deeply and written about the morality of war and of what might constitute a Just War. It is a subject which naturally excites strong emotion and is always present in our world. We look forward to hearing what he says and to have the chance to discuss this with him.

We do hope that you can attend the event. Members are very welcome to bring guests.

There is secure free parking for the evening at the Monastery, but if there is sufficient demand, we will arrange bus transfer from Piccadilly to the Monastery.

Click here to book. Please note that booking for the event will end at midday on Friday 3rd June to ensure final catering numbers are accurate.