Manchester Literary and Philosophical Society
Established in 1781 as the Literary and Philosophical Society of Manchester, by Thomas Percival, Thomas Barnes and Thomas Henry, other prominent members have included Robert Owen, John Dalton, James Prescott Joule, Tom Kilburn, Peter Mark Roget, Ernest Rutherford and Joseph Whitworth. The first formal meeting of the society took place on 14 March 1781. Meetings were held in a back room of the Cross Street Chapel until December 1799, after which the society moved into its own premises in George Street.
The original "House" (as it was called) was destroyed as a fire-break during the Manchester Blitz in 1940. Its replacement, built in the 1960s, was constructed using high alumina cement (referred to as having "concrete cancer") and was demolished in the 1980s. The Lit & Phil now usually meets in one of three hired lecture theatres: The Royal Northern College of Music, The Manchester Business School, or MANDEC (Manchester Dental Education Centre), all of which are within 200 yards (180 m) of each other. The society operates from an office provided by the Manchester Metropolitan University, and has two permanent staff.
The Lit & Phil offers over 30 lectures or similar events each year, one every week of the academic term. It is a registered charity and a private members' society (three or four events each year are restricted to members and their guests only), and has more than 450 members. As a charitable institution the society encourages members of the public to attend most of its lectures to improve the further and higher education of those living in Greater Manchester. Since the local universities ceased offering extra-curricular courses the Lit & Phil has seen an increase in both membership and in the attendance of non-members at lectures.
The society's Memoirs and Proceedings, first published in 1783, was at the time of its launch the only regular scientific journal in the United Kingdom except for the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society. The Manchester Memoirs has been published continuously since the first edition. It contains the transactions of the society (most notably the text of many recent lectures) and is distributed to members and to similar institutions and libraries throughout the world by subscription. Copies are also available for purchase by non-members.