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2020

Dr Angus McDougall

19th March, 2020

 

It is with sorrow that we inform you of the death of Dr Angus McDougall in the MRI on Saturday 14 March 2020. Angus joined the Lit & Phil in 2010, became a member of Council in 2014 and was currently chair of the Young People’s Section Committee. Diagnosed with painful, incurable but treatable cancer in early 2017, superb treatment from the NHS through the Christie Hospital and his GP allowed him three more years of active life. He used this time with vigour and enjoyment until his final weeks in the MRI.

 

He was born in West Bridgford in October 1934, just south of Nottingham, within sound if not sight of the Midland Railway line to Melton Mowbray; was a Sir Thomas White entrance scholar at Nottingham High School and in 1953 entered Balliol College, Oxford to read chemistry. His D.Phil. there was under the guidance of the renowned physical chemist, Mr Ronnie Bell, FRS and after its completion in 1959 he held a Fulbright Travel Award enabling further study under the equally renowned Frank Long at Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, USA. On his return he took up an Assistant Lectureship at the Manchester College of Science and Technology, then the Faculty of Technology of the Victoria University of Manchester, later becoming UMIST. He retired from UMIST in 2000 as a Senior Lecturer and Dean of Undergraduate Studies.  He continued research on electrochemical cells and in 1977 published a monograph on Fuel Cells but excelled in the other areas required of university lecturers, namely teaching and administration.

 

In addition to the normal range of undergraduate teaching, for which he was awarded a UMIST prize for excellence, he organised a Peer Assisted Study Session scheme to evaluate and help improve teaching by other chemistry department staff; was a leading figure in many staff training courses run by the Staff Development Unit of the University and became a member of the Institute for Learning and Teaching in Higher Education – an uncommon choice in research-driven academia.

 

His talents in committee and administrative work resulted in places on many University committees including the University Senate and its Standing Committee and at the highest levels in UMIST. In the chemistry department he was the Assistant Director of Laboratories from 1976 -1990 – an important link to the undergraduate students – after which he served UMIST for 4 years as Associate Dean and then 6 years as Dean of Undergraduate Studies. Outside the department he was involved with student halls and residences, firstly as a tutor at Dalton Hall and then as Senior Advisor at Cornbrook House. He was a lifelong member of the Dalton-Ellis Hall Committee and the St Anselm Hall SCR.

 

Given his concern for, and involvement with, students, it was not surprising that as an 80 year old he agreed to join and later chair the YP section committee of the Lit & Phil. During his time the committee continued its successful organisation of 3 lectures each year; changed the format to improve attendance and started a programme of improved contacts with the potential audience. He also made many contributions during his regular attendance at meetings of Council.

 

There were many outside interests including membership of the Manchester Statistical Society, of CAMRA, with the purchase of every copy of the Good Beer Guide, of the Halle Concert Society, the Labour Party and the University of Manchester Wine Club. For the last mentioned he arranged many unusual and challenging tastings. But his greatest interests were railways and travel and he was a member of 10 railway societies facilitating this interest. For one of the more significant of these, the Branch Line Society, he was chairman for 20 years from 1969.  He records that he visited 51 countries including Malaysia, Australia and New Zealand and his only regret was that there were not more. Some of these were in organised trips to ride the spectacular, the unusual or the restricted sections of foreign railways. The exploration, investigation and photographic recording of railways, their buildings and signalling was a lifetime passion, perhaps initiated by the West Bridgford sounds. His railway legacy includes two books[1], many articles for railway society magazines and over 30 000 fully indexed photographs of railway track, station buildings, curiosities and, most significantly, a complete record of signal boxes within the UK.

 

My personal remembrance of Angus, whom I knew since 1963, is a principled man, concerned for others, always excellent company, courteous and appreciative of the slightest kindness. Throughout his time, he made many friends and retained them for life – from primary and secondary school, from the years at Balliol, from all his time in Manchester and from his wide range of activities – a truly remarkable number have enjoyed his friendship. Our lives have been enhanced by his presence and he will long be remembered.

 

 

Brian Tyler


[1]  A Guide to Closed Railways in Britain 1948-1975 (plus amendments) (with N J Hill)

An Enthusiasts Guide to the Railways of Western Europe (several editions)

 

 

The Covid-19 issues are changing daily, so following on from our message to you on the 16th March, we report that the RNCM has closed its doors to both students and public as of Sunday 15th March and until at least 13th April, causing the inevitable postponement/cancellation of our events held there.  As regards the Young Persons’ meeting due to take place at the MCC on 30th March, we are pleased to say that we are in discussion with the speaker, Dr Kirstie Whitaker, about delivering her lecture online – we shall update you as soon as possible about this.

Our office at Church House is also physically closed, and our staff are working from home.  However, they have remote access to the telephone voicemail, and all the relevant information needed to run the Society.  It is paramount that we protect our employees Rachel and Aude from unnecessary exposure to the virus, particularly when on crowded rush hour public transport.

We shall give regular updates about events, and as we have only just had the summer brochure printed, we shall be sending a copy to members next week, with more information in the covering letter.  The early events may not take place, but it will be of interest to see our plans, and we shall wherever possible run these in the future.

Please watch the media for daily updates on how to look after yourselves regarding limitations on movement and guidelines regarding hygiene and ‘social distancing’.

 

Best wishes

Dr Susan Hilton

President, Manchester Literary and Philosophical Society

 

As of yesterday evening, the Royal Northern College of Music closed its doors on all public events (and students were to be taught online as and when possible) in order to limit the spread of the coronavirus. Therefore, any planned Lit & Phil events in the immediate future will have to be postponed, starting from this evening’s lecture (all intended attendees will be notified today). It is logical to also postpone any events at the MCC along with any other extramural activities.

We shall be informing members of other ways and means of accessing interesting and educational activities via online facilities/television/radio as and when we find them, so that brains can be kept sharp – especially if you fall into the category of people who will probably be asked to stay at home, and if not on email, then there is always the telephone by which to inform. Please watch out for further news from us and be reassured that we hope all our upcoming speakers will be able to come at a later date, when things return to some sort of normality.

  • If you are feeling unwell with a cough, fever or other symptoms of a cold, stay at home and stay indoors for at least 7 days until well.
  • Take extra care washing your hands, especially if you have contact with communal door handles, etc. Use hand sanitisers if you are unable to access handwashing facilities.
  • Do not greet people with handshakes, use another way.
  • Please read your emails regularly.
  • Contact the office by email (admin@manlitphil.ac.uk) or phone (0161 833 4187), though be aware that our staff may be working from home some or all of the time.
  • Consult Public Health England at https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/ for up-to-date advice.

 

Please stay safe and well and be reassured that normal service will be resumed as soon as possible, and that the Lit & Phil 2020-21 season planning will be going ahead in the usual manner.

Best wishes

Dr Susan Hilton, President

 

 

I would like to reassure all members and guests, that we at the Lit & Phil are keeping a close ear to all the advice being given by Public Health England regarding the coronavirus infection.

Many of our attendees are not 21 anymore and would be more vulnerable to complications if they contracted the virus infection. So, as the venues we use – the RNCM and the MCC – are still open we have not yet postponed any of our upcoming meetings, the next one being on Monday 16 March (RNCM). Can I advise the following –

  • If you are feeling unwell with a cough, fever or other symptoms of a cold, please do not come to a meetings stay at home and stay indoors until well.
  • If you have been out of the country in the previous 14 days, please consider the fact you may have been to an area where there are a high number of virus infections and keep away from meetings.
  • Take extra care washing your hands, especially if you have contact with communal door handles, etc. Use hand sanitisers if you are unable to access handwashing facilities.
  • Do not greet people with handshakes, use another way.
  • Please read your emails regularly, at least daily, in case we must postpone a meeting at very short notice.
  • If you wish to cancel any bookings please do so as soon as you have decided, by email (admin@manlitphil.ac.uk) or phone (0161 833 4187).
  • If you need to contact the Lit & Phil office, please do so only by email or phone.  Visits to the office are now restricted to planned meetings only until further notice.
  • Consult Public Health England at https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/ for up-to-date advice.

Of course, we shall update you immediately if any meeting has to be postponed, as we have staff online every weekday, and we shall try to ensure that the speaker is given the chance to give his or her lecture at a later date.

Dr Susan Hilton, President

 

As part of International Women's Day 2020, this week we are celebrating 8 women that the Society is proud to have been associated with (in big or small ways). The first one is Elizabeth Percival, aunt or elder sister of one of our founders Dr Thomas Percival.

“To her he is said to have owed much”. What she did exactly to inspire such a quote we don’t know because Elizabeth’s achievements as those of so many other women were written out of history. The boy she took such care of would go on to found our Society and became rather well known for his “Medical Ethics” which you can read here: bit.ly/2VZMIIq

 

The second woman we would like to celebrate is Lucy Winifred Faraday. Hers was the 1st paper written by a woman read to the Society in 1899. Her brother W. Barnard Faraday did the reading. A year later she became the 1st woman elected to the Society as an Ordinary Member. Her election is briefly mentioned in the Proceedings for the Annual General Meeting of 24th April 1900 but we don't seem to have on record what motivated the decision to finally admit women to the Society. Did her brother who was on the Society's Council intervene in her favour?

And this begs the question: how much knowledge, new ideas, opportunities for discussion did the Society miss by forgoing women’s ideas and works for 119 years? This is what happens when women have to wait for men’s permission to have access to spaces.

 

You can read Lucy's paper by clicking on the link below.

 

2019

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!