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.



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.

Have you booked yet for this full day outing?  Only a few seats are left on the bus so if you want to take part in this trip please book as soon as possible.  It has been planned to take in two very contrasting places in north-west Cheshire.  Firstly the rural village of Daresbury with its 12th century church, distinctive sandstone houses and Lewis Carroll Centre as the author, Charles Ludwig Dodgson was born there. We will stop for morning refreshments, a talk and a chance to look round. Secondly the Catalyst Science Discovery Centre and Museum which lies at the former heartland of the 19th/early 20th century ‘Northern Powerhouse’ and is housed in the remaining Grade II listed building of a converted soap works. There you will have lunch and a tour of the Centre, its Museum of the Chemical Industry  and its wide range of educational activities while also being able to see and learn about the new bridge being built across the Mersey and the Manchester Ship Canal and scheduled to open in late 2017. 360-degree spectacular panoramic views are possible from the 4th floor Observatory of the whole of the Mersey estuary and the nature reserve which has been reclaimed from the former industrial landscape.

En route there and back there will be a full commentary on the bus by Diana Leitch, who was born and brought up in this area, and you will get the chance to see the historic village of Halton with its 11th century castle, the ancient sandstone village of Weston, the quarry where the stone for St Ann’s Church was mined and the developments and regeneration of some of the industries in the area.  Sir Piers Dutton’s former home at Dutton was moved stone by stone to Sussex. Why and where was it? You will find out on this trip. For canal enthusiasts, there is also plenty to see as the area has many original canals including the Sankey/St Helens Canal which is the oldest in England.

The pickup points are Deansgate/Castlefield (Deansgate Railway Station on Whitworth Street West) and East Didsbury (by the row of shops on Wilmslow Road opposite East Didsbury Railway Station).  

At £19.50 per person inclusive (except for lunch at Catalyst) this is a trip not to be missed and an opportunity for an interesting day out with fellow Lit and Phil members and their guests.

To book for the outing on Tuesday 7th June, please click here.

It is with the greatest sadness that we have learned of the death of Professor Sir Harry Kroto FRS (1939-2016). This scientific genius, brilliant communicator of chemistry and genuinely charismatic man was a Northerner by upbringing and education having been educated at Bolton School and the University of Sheffield.  Much of his academic career was spent in the Chemistry Department at the University of Sussex. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1996 for his work on a third form of carbon known and named by Harry as ‘Buckminsterfullerene’. He shared the prize with Professors Robert Curl and Richard Smalley. Harry was knighted in the same year for his contributions to chemistry.

On 8th December 1997 Harry became only the 10th recipient of the prestigious Dalton Medal of the Manchester Literary and Philosophical Society. This medal first given in 1898 to Henry Edward Schunck is only rarely awarded and is given to those who have made a significant contribution to science. Sir Henry Roscoe, Lord Rutherford and Lord Bragg were recipients before Harry.

Professor Sir Harry Kroto with Dalton blue plaque

In 2003 Harry took part in the week-long Bicentenary celebrations in Manchester for the publication of John Dalton’s famous paper entitled ’On the absorption of gases by water and other liquids’ and of  his table of the relative weights of ultimate particles of bodies which foreshadowed his atomic theory and revolutionised chemistry. The paper and table were published in the Memoirs and Proceedings of the Manchester Literary and Philosophical Society in 1803. On 14th October 2003 Harry gave the Dalton Lecture in Manchester Town Hall in a joint event between the Society and the Royal Society of Chemistry. It was entitled “2010, A Nanospace Odyssey” and was attended by hundreds of people. During the same week Harry unveiled, with Lord Mayor, Councillor Audrey Jones, a blue plaque to John Dalton in the Peace Gardens in St Peter’s Square, Manchester. This plaque commemorated Dalton’s  paper and also his many years as President (1816-1844) of the Lit and Phil.  The plaque has been temporarily removed for the Metro system work but will be reinstated later this year in the same locality. Harry and his wife, Margaret, also visited the John Rylands Library on Deansgate to see the remaining fragments of Dalton’s scientific papers, which survived the bombing in Manchester in December 1941, and which are housed there since being acquired from the Lit and Phil in the early 1970s.

Our condolences go to his wife, Margaret, and sons, Stephen and David. Science and the world have lost a very remarkable man.

Lord Mayor Councilor Audrey Jones, Harry Kroto and Professors Paul O'Brien and Alexander Donnachie  in the background at the unveiling of blue plaque


Harry Kroto and his wife Margaret at John Rylands Library -  (L - R) Dr Diana Leitch (Associate Director John Rylands Library), Harry Kroto, Pauline Meakins (Royal Society of Chemistry), Margaret Kroto.

Thursday 19th May – meet at the St James’s Club for 10.30am

The St James’s Club invites Members and their Guests to participate in our revamped Local History Circle. Once again we are delighted to welcome back Local Historian and Tour Guide, John Alker. Take an Architectural walk through the centre of the city to fully appreciate its buildings finding out facts you never knew about the buildings you have known and passed by for many a year.
After refreshment at the club to fortify you for the walk, we will proceed to The Portico Library then along Mosley Street and its charms to St Peters Square and the Town Hall Extension and its cousin the Central Library. Then along to the Bridgewater Hall passing the Midland Hotel and on to view the 21st Century colossus that is the Hilton Hotel and then back by the many examples of our Victorian past to Albert Square and the “Jewel in the Crown” the Town Hall before finally climbing King Street and its monuments to the power that was Manchester in the nineteenth century.
By that time, everyone should have worked up an appetite to appreciate the Luncheon Hospitality of the Club.

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.

Menu & Costs

The meeting costs £25 per person, including lunch. The menu for the lunch is:

Minced Beef & Onion Pie Served with mashed potato & seasonal vegetables
Cherries Jubilee

How to Book

To make a booking, please e-mail: or call telephone: 0161 829 3009.
Parking: Members & Guests of the Club may park at King Street West NCP for up to 12 hours for £9. Validation tickets to be purchased at the bar before departing.

St James’s Club, 45 Spring Gardens, M2 2BG

New Lit & Phil Offices

14th April, 2016

Please be aware that the Lit & Phil have now moved office. The telephone number remains the same but our new address is:

Floor 5, Church House
90 Deansgate
M3 2GP



Sir Tom Devine delivered his lecture on the impact of the Scottish referendum back in October. His exploration of the topic and his brief speculations given in the lecture were a part of a wider writing project for Devine to air his findings publicly resulting in 'Independence or Union: Questions from Scotland's Past and Scotland's Present'. Unfortunately, at the time of the lecture the book was still in press and so was not available to attendees who wished to read more about the subject. The book has now been released this month with more information about the book to be found here along with a list of retailers.

Previously, Sir Tom Devine had written The Scotland Trilogy, a series on Scottish history in three parts. For those wishing to do more background reading, you can find further information about these books here.

We would like to make attendees of the following lectures aware of other big events happening in the city on the same date so that you can allow extra time to get to the venue in case of increased traffic.

  • Tuesday 8th March – The Future of Museums in the UK – Royal Northern College of Music (Manchester Arena Concert)
  • Tuesday 5th April – Modelling Flood Inundation from Street to Continental Scales – Manchester Dental Education Centre (Manchester Arena Concert)
  • Tuesday 12th April – An Introduction to Non-Verbal Communication – Royal Northern College of Music (Manchester Arena Concert)
  • Tuesday 10th May – The Story of Manchester’s Taj Mahal – stranger than fiction – Royal Northern College of Music (Old Trafford Cricket Match)


Professor Keith Ross

22nd February, 2016

Photo Credit: Salford University


It is with deep regret that we have to inform Members of the Society about the death of Professor Keith Ross.

We have no further details at present, but as soon as we do we will communicate with all members.

As we are sure you would wish, we have passed on immediate condolences to Judith & her family.

John Buckley
Honorary Secretary




Please click on the image for a bigger version


A review of our last Young Person’s lecture held on 2nd February appeared in last week’s Manchester Weekly News.

You can now find pictures taken by Dr David Leitch of the Young Person’s event on 2nd February 2016 in the event photos section. As you can see, the high school and sixth form students in attendance got stuck into the demonstrations and hopefully came away from the evening inspired and eager to learn more about the anaesthetist’s profession!


This week marks the 75th anniversary of the bombing of Manchester by German forces during Christmas week 1940. The Christmas blitz not only hit some of Manchester’s iconic buildings such as Manchester’s Free Trade Hall, the Royal Exchange, Smithfield Market, Cheethams Hospital, the Gaiety Theatre and St Ann’s Church but claimed over 680 lives, injuring hundreds more and leaving 8,000 households without a home [1]. The fires that spread through buildings following the bombings destroyed the Lit & Phil’s home at 36 George Street where 50,000 volumes that made up the library archives (est. 1783) also perished. The bust of John Dalton presented to the Society in 1903 was buried in the rubble but was salvaged and restored, still sitting in the Lit & Phil offices to this day.


Left: Inside of the Lit & Phil’s HQ at 36 George Street before the Blitz.
Right: Firefighting the fires that spread through Manchester buildings after the bombings.


John Dalton bust currently at the Lit & Phil’s office


The plaque accompanying the John Dalton bust reads:

“Presented by Henry Enfield Roscoe. Buried during the Blitz 1940. Recovered and restored by French Kier Property Investments and presented to Manchester Literary and Philosophical Society 1981”


Sketch of George Street

To mark this anniversary, the Imperial War Museum Manchester is running a ‘Blitzed Brits’ exhibition until April next year, alongside other World War II exhibits including an exploration of the ‘forgotten histories of service personnel and civilians who came to Britain in the Second World War’ and a fashion exhibition discovering the style of the 1940s from air-raid shelter chic to‘Fashion on the Ration’.
Additionally, the Manchester Evening News have a number of articles covering the anniversary, including videosinteractive mapsand a live blog with numerous resources.
Another resource which may be of interest to those researching the Blitz is the Greater Manchester Blitz Victims database which hosts statistics and details of over 1,400 civilians of Manchester and surrounding areas who were killed during the Blitz.

[1] Manchester’s devastating Christmas Blitz’, BBC News, 22nd December 2015