Thursday, 1 October 2009

Newcastle Lit and Phil

Photo from that great site:

In praise of… Newcastle's Lit & Phil
The Guardian, Friday 25 September 2009

"From this foul drain," Alexis de Tocqueville wrote of Manchester, "the greatest stream of human industry flows to fertilise the whole world." Even as it littered the north with slums and satanic mills, the industrial revolution fostered an appetite for ideas which found expression in literary and philosophical societies, where the discussions inevitably mixed beauty and truth with the latest technological wheezes for turning muck into brass. Manchester, Leicester and even tiny Whitby all had societies that survive in some form, but it is Newcastle's Lit & Phil that retains the most visible presence, thanks to a 150,000-volume library which is housed in a splendid building on the course of Hadrian's wall. Although a private member's club, it is a very public institution, and one that becomes even more open today, with the conversion of the Georgian lecture rooms – in which Joseph Swan demonstrated his electric light bulbs in 1880 – into a new exhibition space which will link local history to wider themes. The first offering is a reappraisal of Newcastle's 1960s power broker, T Dan Smith, who transformed the city's landscape and ended up being jailed for fraud. That might raise a few eyebrows, but then so too, no doubt, did the Lit & Phil's decision to admit women as early as 1804. The membership roll meanders from George Stephenson of the Rocket to Pet Shop Boy Neil Tennant, via the tea-sipping premier Earl Grey. A society founded on faith in progress has never stopped evolving with the times.


  1. I OWN the Lit & Phil!


  2. I recognise that photo from somewhere. A link/credit to my site would be nice. Thanks.

  3. Done. Thanks.

    I thought that was TK in the photo!

  4. That place is beautiful, so much charachter, makes me want to go there and run my hand along the books while I walk down the rows...