THE Leeds Philosophical and Literary Society
198th ANNUAL REPORT FOR 2017-2018

The Council presents its report and financial statements for the year ended 30 September 2018. The financial statements comply with current statutory requirements and with the requirements of the Society’s memorandum and articles.

The Society is a company limited by guarantee governed by its memorandum and articles of association. Membership is open to anyone on payment of an annual subscription which is due on 1 October each year. The Annual General Meeting held in December 2014 had agreed to raise the subscription from £18 to £25 p.a. with effect from 1 October 2015. Only those members who have paid or have been elected to Honorary Membership are entitled to vote at the AGM. In the event of the Society being wound up, every person who is a member, or who has been a member within one year, is liable to contribute to the debts and liabilities of the Society a sum not exceeding £10.

The members of the Council are considered to be both directors for Companies Act purposes and trustees for Charities Act purposes. One third of the members of Council retire by rotation at each Annual General Meeting (normally held in December), when appointments or reappointments are made. The Council has powers to co-opt to its membership. Membership of the Council takes into account the need to have members with expertise to cover the variety of activities of the Society. All members of the Society are notified prior to the AGM of the names of the Council members who are due to retire and are invited to submit nominations. At the AGM on 7 December 2017 Professor F J Finlay was elected to Council; Professor R Bushby, Dr J E Lydon and Professor A C T North were re-elected.

The Officers of the Society are elected by and from the members of Council at the first meeting of Council following the Annual General Meeting; at the Council meeting on 11 January 2018, Dr Hatton was elected as President, Dr Lydon as Secretary, Professor Taylor as Treasurer, and Professor North as Vice-President.

Council met on six occasions during 2017-2018 in the Civic Hall. Parts of its business were delegated to the following committees: Grants, Events, and Museums, chaired respectively by Dr Hatton, Professor Bushby, and Dr Hatton. The committees are required to act in accordance with the Society’s Aims and Policies, and their recommendations are put to the Council for its approval.

Mr Norman Madill has continued as Assistant Secretary, managing the Society’s links with its members and other necessary administrative matters. During the year Council decided to appoint an Assistant Treasurer to administer the day-to-day financial transactions of the Society. Members of the Society were invited to apply for the post and subsequently Mrs Susan Clarke was appointed with effect from 1st October 2018.

During the course of the 2017/18 year, the Society lost 12 members (through death & resignations) and gained 5 new members; at the end of September, membership totalled 147.


The Society aims to promote the advancement of science, literature and the arts in the city of Leeds and its immediate area. In furtherance of this aim, which Council believes to be of benefit to the public in this area, the Council’s policy has been to disburse its income as follows by:
providing a programme of free public lectures relevant to the Society’s aims
supporting the work of the City of Leeds Museums & Galleries
supporting other activities in Leeds of a scientific, literary or artistic nature
providing grants for purposes of research, publication, or artistic performance

Grant-making policy
In making grants to promote the advancement of the Society’s aims, the Council places particular emphasis on (but does not limit its grants to) the support of activities which directly benefit the citizens of Leeds or assist those engaged in academic and scholarly activities relating to Leeds and its immediate area. It does not give grants in general support of students on taught courses. The value of grants is normally in the range £100 to £2,000, although this limit may be exceeded in special circumstances. The Council is keen to support new endeavours by the award of ‘pump-priming’ grants.

The Society’s archives
The Society’s archives are held in the Special Collections section of the Brotherton Library, University of Leeds, where they are available for public consultation.



The regular monthly events covered a wide range of topics as usual and were well supported both by Society members, guests and members of the public. The lectures in January and February took place in the afternoon in the City Museum. The other meetings were held at University House.

The following events took place: 

Professor Eric Blair. The Science of Three-person Babies
Priestley Lecture. Professor Jonathan Powers. Erasmus Darwin.
Annual General Meeting and dinner at University House. After-dinner speaker, Bobbie Millar. Quarry Arts.
Professor Stephen Mobbs. Volcanic Disruption of Air Travel – Can We Do Better?
Robert Woosnam-Savage. The Killing of Richard III.
Annual Science Fair.
Stuart Wrathmell. Excavations at Kirkstall Abbey Guest House.
An evening with Sir Alan Langlands. Dinner and talk at University House.
Dr Alaric Hall. J.R.R. Tolkien in Leeds.
Peter and Barbara Murphy. A year in the Life of Rodley Nature Reserve – Winner of Best Nature Reserve, BBC Countryfile Magazine.
Summer Outing. A visit to Beamish Museum
Professor Adrian Whitehouse. The Underappreciated Burden of Viruses in Cancer.


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

Martin Hamilton on behalf of the Leeds Civic Trust, £400 towards a blue plaque to commemorate William Gascoigne, the inventor of the telescope sight and telescope micrometer.
Rehena Minhas, £600 to support local workshops at the first Leeds Peacejam Conference.
Tristran Langlois, £400 towards the provision of blinds for ‘The Mess’, a dedicated area for school lunches at the Royal Armouries.
Rachel Reeves, £500 to support research for her new book women in Westminster: MPs Who Changed Politics.
Helen Barraclough, £1000 to support the delivery of the 2018 Bradford Science Festival.
Brian Cole, £700 to support research into the career of Cedric Chivers whose company bound many thousands of the books in the Leeds Library.
Dr Jackie Coates, £1000 towards the performance and recording of a new work, Penthos Requiem, commissioned by St Peter’s Singers from two of its members.
Lucy Moore, £500 to enable the publication of a new booklet on the history of the Leeds Pals Battalion written by Leeds Museums & Galleries volunteers.
Alice Barber, £1000 to support 10 performances of Front Room Productions’ abridged and accessible promenade version of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night at Home Farm, Temple Newsam.
Davide Levi, £1000 towards the performance of Cosi fan tutte at Sunnybank Mills, Farsley.
Geoff Wain on behalf of MathsWorldUK, £500 to support the production of a new exhibit to be used at science fairs around the UK.
Carl Hutton on behalf of The Leeds Library, £1000 to support the Through The Pages exhibition, part of the 250th Anniversary Programme of the library
David Ward, £1000 to support the 2018 Left Bank Opera Festival.

The Leeds City Museum

We have continued to enjoy a good relationship with the staff of the Museums, to whom we are most grateful for their collaboration. It has been helpful that Mr John Roles, the Head of Leeds Museums and Galleries, has attended a number of Council meetings. The Museums Committee, comprising representatives from the Council and the Leeds Museums Service, has met once in the course of the year and provides a valuable opportunity to discuss collaboration in the planning of events and the best use of grants for supporting the museum.

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