The Society makes grants both to individuals and to organisations in support of cultural and scientific activities which increase innovation, outreach and diversity in Leeds and its immediate area. It also supports local museums and galleries and publications relating to the city.

About the Society

The Leeds Philosophical and Literary Society, founded in 1819, is a charity that promotes interest in science, literature and the arts – in the city of Leeds and beyond. We have meetings, lectures, entertainments, publications and visits.

2009 Annual Review

Includes Reports on Society Events and Grant-funded projects for the year end: 2009


During the 2008-2009 session, the Society continued its recent successes in fulfilling its aims as listed above, including a growing number of artistic and scientific events for members and non-members as detailed below. During the year the Society lost 9 members through resignation or death and welcomed 15 new members, so that at the end of September 2009 the total number stood at 171.


The regular monthly events covered a wide range of topics and, continuing to be well supported both by Society members and members of the public, were clearly welcomed by those attending. The following events took place:

  • Bear Island – an Arctic Nature Reserve (Dag Hagenaes-Kjelldahl) • Pre-Bonfire Night Spectacular (Mike Hoyland)
  • Riding the Waves of Knowledge: from Schrodinger’s Cats to Quantum Computers (Professor Vlatko Verdal)
  • AGM, Dinner and Speaker (Barrie Pepper)
  • Life and Death in Freshwater (John Hobson)
  • James Oxley: Banker, Collector and Photographer (James Lomax
  • A Demonstration of Water Colour Techniques (Stanley Trainor)
  • R D Chantrell and the Architecture of the Lost Generation (Christopher Webster), Joint Lecture with the Leeds Civic Trust
  • Science Fair in the Leeds City Museum
  • The Milestone Society – its Origin, Aims and Activities (June Scott)
  • The Newly Built A1 Locomotive ‘Tornado’ (David Bedding)
  • The work of the Architects Bedford and Kitson (David Boswell) together with a Coach Tour of notable Bedford and Kitson buildings (with the Victorian Society)
  • Leeds’s Dodo: How a Yorkshire Engineer Unearthed a Lost Species (Mark Steadman and Clare Stringer)
  • Visit to Kiplin Hall and Cowton
  • The Pigments of Antiquity ( Professor John Griffiths)

Grants and Prizes

During the year the following grants and prizes were awarded by the Society:

  • Continued support for the Leeds Philosophical and Literary Society Choral Composition Competition, organised by the Leeds University Liturgical Choir
  • Towards the costs of a book to accompany the Marc Riboud exhibition at the Leeds City Museum
  • Support for a publication of a printed version of a new Bragg Notebook website
  • Towards the publicity costs of the 2008 and 2009 Leeds Astromeets • Towards the publication costs of a book on the life of Leeds artist and teacher, Pam Rex
  • Towards the costs of commissions and community projects associated with fuseleeds09
  • Support of the Celebrate Headingley Literature Festival
  • Towards the costs of a leaflet based on The Building Stones of Leeds
  • Support for a series of educational projects linked to the 2009 Leeds Lieder+
  • Support of the Ilkley Literature Festival
  • Support of research into Halloween and related Festivals in Leeds and surrounding districts
  • Towards the publication costs of a book entitled Letters from a Malham Kitchen associated with an exhibition in the Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery
  • Towards the publication costs of a book entitled Joseph Priestley: Friends and Foes
  • Towards the printing costs of publication on Yorkshire designed landscapes
  • Towards the production costs of a leaflet accompanying the publication of a book on the History of the Association for Science Education in the Yorkshire region
  • Towards the costs of restoration of the Broadwood pianoforte at Temple Newsam House
  • Towards the costs of a performance of 17th Century poetry in the Great Barn of Riddlesden Hall to celebrate the centenary of the Poetry Society
  • Towards the design and production of a wall chart depicting the ‘Tree of Life’ for the Leeds City Museum
  • Support for a student to research the history of the Society’s scientific collections
  • Support for a student to deliver a paper on Sergei Tanayev based on research linked to Taneyev’s diaries in the Brotherton Library Special Collections
  • Arthur Chadwick Prize (University of Leeds): Rosemary Wilson
  • Modern Language Prize (University of Leeds): Myriam Volk

Publications Grants awarded to authors to assist with their costs in this and previous years have resulted in the publication of the following during 2008/9: • Joseph Priestley: Friends and Foes by Keith Baker (The Priestley Society) • Mr Mercury (The Life of Edward Baines) by David Thornton (Merton Priory Press) • Swarthmore’s Century (A Leeds Experiment in Adult Education) by Tom Steele (Swarthmore Education Centre) • A Lasting Moment: Marc Riboud Photographs Leeds 1954 and 2004 to accompany the Marc Riboud exhibition at the Leeds City Museum • 75 Years and More (The Association for Science Education in Yorkshire) by Edgar Jenkins (Association for Science Education) • Geology of Buildings in Leeds (a leaflet to introduce The Building Stone Heritage of Leeds) The Science and Tourism Project, The University of Leeds. There were no publications by the Society itself during the year. However, following the decision last year to encourage joint publication as a means of bringing our publications to a wider audience, the Society agreed with Spire Books, the well-established publisher of architectural history, to the joint publication of RD Chantrell (1793-1872) and the architecture of a lost generation by Christopher Webster. The hardback book of over 300 pages with 194 black and white illustrations is due for publication in December 2009. The publishers have offered members the opportunity to purchase the book at a pre-publication discount.

The Leeds City Museum

In last year’s Annual Report, we were able to record that the City Museum had at long last been opened and that the Society’s office had been located in it. During the past year, most of the Society’s lectures have been held in the Museum’s Thoresby Room and Council meetings in the Denny Room. The annual Science Fair took place in the splendid space of the Museum’s arena. We have continued to enjoy a close relationship with Mr John Roles, the Head of Museums and Galleries, who has attended a number of Council meetings, and with the staff of the Museums, to whom we are most grateful. 

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