The Leeds Philosophical
and Literary Society
Registered Charity: 224084 



During the 2002-2003 Session the Society continued its recent successes in fulfilling its objects as listed above, including a growing number of artistic and scientific events for members as detailed below.  During the year the Society welcomed 11 new members, so that at the end of September 2003 the total number stood at 123 (an increase of 5 over the year). We urge members to make an effort to bring the Society and its activities to the attention of their potentially interested friends and colleagues.

Events for Members

The Society has continued to offer a varied programme of events. We have had lectures on Renaissance printing, Henry Embleton (the local sponsor of large-scale choral music and patron of Elgar) and on current cosmic ray research in Argentina.

The highly popular pre-bonfire night spectacular attracted an audience of 350.

Over 60 members and guests came to the AGM and dinner.

Our annual Science Fair again brought together exhibitors from local science-based societies and interested members of the public for a day of demonstrations and discussions. We look forward to the time when this can be held in the new Museum and attract a larger audience.

This year we have had two coach outings.  For the first, postponed from summer 2002, we were welcomed by the Whitby Literary and Philosophical Society who gave us a tour of their museum and library.  The second coach outing visited the recently reopened masterpiece of Victorian industrial architecture, the Anderton Boat Lift in Cheshire. Our involvement with local conservation groups was extended with a guided tour of the Rodley Nature Reserve.  In a new venture we had an ‘Evening with Donald Nicholson’, the ‘inventor’ of metabolic pathways in Biochemistry.  This consisted of a meal in University House followed by a talk about Donald’s remarkable life.  The occasion was so successful that we plan to have meetings with a similar format each year. 

Scholarships, Prizes and Grants

In 2002-03 the Arthur Chadwick Memorial Prize was awarded to Emily O’Connor, School of Biology, and the Modern Languages Prize to Cecilia Bullock, Joint Honours in Chinese and Economics.  This year the Society replaced The University of Leeds Research Scholarship with The Leeds Philosophical and Literary Society Research Scholarship, open to students from the United Kingdom for study at any of the universities and higher education colleges in the Leeds area.  The scholarship is intended for new research students undertaking a full-time or part-time Masters or Doctoral degree on a topic associated with Leeds or its immediate area.  Unfortunately only two applications were received, neither of which was eligible for the award.  The scholarship will be offered again next year.

Following extensive publicity the number and quality of applications for grants have improved this year but, despite that, the Grants Committee was not able to spend its full allocation, mainly owing to the dearth of suitable applications for the Research Scholarship.  During the year individual grants were awarded by the Society to:

·        The Thackray Medical Museum towards the design costs of the illustrated guide to the Beckett Street Cemetery

·        The School of Music, the University of Leeds, towards the performance by the Edinburgh String Quartet of  ‘Papillon’ by Nick Caswell, the winner of the Society’s Millennium String Quartet Prize

·        The University of Leeds towards the costs of printing the catalogue for the ‘Africa and beyond’ exhibition in the University of Leeds Gallery

·        The Cyprus College of Art towards the costs of a book by Norbert Lynton on the former Leeds painter Stass Paraskos

·        Leeds Museums and Galleries in support of the Young Artists Concert Series at Lotherton Hall

·        Mandy Sutter towards the costs of research associated with her Leeds-based novel

·        Leeds Art Collection Fund towards the publication of a two-volume book on Leeds Pottery by John D Griffin

·        The Leeds International Medieval Congress to assist with the payment of bursaries

·        Jessica Yorke towards the expenses of research on John Atkinson Grimshaw

·        Jane Wheeler towards the expenses of research on the environmental resources of Rievaulx and Bilsdale

·        The Chapel Allerton Arts Festival towards the costs of a poetry reading

·        Ilkley Literature Festival to support the African Visions event

·        Professor H Allen Brooks for a lecture on the architect Frank Lloyd Wright

·        Nina Kane towards the expenses of research  to develop a new theatre-based performance for life-drawing audiences and gallery spaces under the banner of  ‘Cast-Off Drama’

·        Barry Tebb towards preliminary work on an anthology of the Gregory Fellow poets.

At the end of the year the Council authorised a grant to Leeds Museums and Galleries towards its purchase of the Egyptology collection formerly belonging to Aquila Dodgson, a former Secretary of the Society, subject to the purchase being successfully concluded.


The Society issued one publication during the year 2002-03:  Stuart Wrathmell and John Goodchild’s The King’s Mills, Leeds: the History and Archaeology of the Manorial Water-Powered Corn Mills, which was launched at the Society’s AGM in December 2002. It is an attractive 60-page booklet with a full-colour cover.

As usual, the Society also supported, through grants, the publication of works by other bodies or individuals which fit with the Society’s stated charitable objectives. The following were supported in this way, and distributed free to members of the Society:

Sylvia M. Barnard and Penny Wainwright, Surprising Lives: A Trail through Beckett Street Cemetery (Leeds, Thackray Museum, 2002);

Leeds Museums and Galleries Review, 4, 2001-02, the three preceding issues of which have also all been supported by the Society;

Pennine Platform, 53, 2003:  the Society has been pleased to enable the continued publication of this long-standing Yorkshire poetry magazine;

Antonia Lovelace and Deborah Snow, Africa and Beyond:  the Anthropology Collection of the University of Leeds (Leeds, the University Gallery, 2003):  catalogue of an exhibition to which members were invited;

Norbert Lynton, Stass Paraskos (Mitcham, Orage Press, 2003): a study of the Cyprus-born painter, who studied at Leeds College of Art.

The new Central Museum for Leeds

Last year, the city's stage-1 lottery bid for the development of the Leeds Institute building as the new central museum was successful.  We were gratified to hear that the document produced by the Society in conjunction with three other local societies (the Friends of the Leeds Museums, the Thoresby Society, and the Leeds Civic Trust) had been a significant factor in the eyes of the Lottery Commission when coming to their decision.

This year, the focus has been on stage 2. This involves submitting more detailed plans for the external and internal aspects of the museum and for the contents and layout of the galleries.

Throughout the past year the ‘Four Societies’ have been involved in a series of discussions with the architects, designers and museum staff.  There are of course many shades of opinion as to the style and function of the new museum, and each of the societies has its own distinct viewpoint. However, we agree on what we see as the major issues and, together with the Thoresby Society and the Friends, your Society has submitted a document laying out our comments on the latest proposals from the designers.

Our vision is of a museum which will be more than a 9am to 5pm gallery containing material displayed in glass cases. We see a building which is alive with activity, where there will be lectures, meetings and discussions every night of the week and at weekends. We see a building that will not only be the hub of the museum service but will be a social focal point of the City.