Previous Meetings

Some topics in our previous meetings have included:

Is sport more valuable than music in today's society.....? Nick Cox

Charlotte Bronte explained how the eye both sought the truth in mundane experiences and the visionary experience of dreams..... Professor Dinah Birch

Technology has revolutionised our access to news, knowledge and opinions, yet quality political journalism is in the doldrums..... Jim Hancock



Are We (Just) Beasts?

It is often assumed by humanist thinkers that, if we are not supernatural beings, we must be parts of nature. Raymond will argue, against popular misreading of the significance of brain science and evolutionary theory, that persons are not merely organisms to be understood in biological terms, and that there is a huge gap between humans and our nearest primate kin.

 Raymond Tallis Philosopher Poet Author
 04/11/2019, 7:30PM


Warrington and the Slave Trade

Warrington and the Slave Trade Warrington’s role in the slave trade is the elephant in the room which has been avoided by most historians. The talk will explore the nature and range of the trade in slaves by citizens of Warrington. The level of involvement of the main players will be discussed, as will the role played by the Warrington Academy. Some thoughts as to an appropriate response will be offered.

 Bill Cooke President’s Address
 07/10/2019, 7:30PM


The Hubble Space Telescope

Along with our own Joddrel Bank Radio Telescope, The Hubble Space Telescope has been one of the most successful and informative developments in the exploration of Space. John will look at its concept and design, early problems and how these were overcome, along with remarkable images obtained over more than 25 years of operation.

 John Anderson, High Legh Community Observatory
 01/04/2019, 7:30PM


A Brief History of Penguin Books

Arguably the most influential and well-known publisher of the 20th Century, Penguin Books have made an impact on all our lives. Mike takes a look at Allen Lane’s ‘Damascus Moment’, the invention of paperback books, and the opening of London Zoo, through mergers and take-overs, and from Lady Chatterley to Lady Luck. The surprising life of Penguin Books, and its emerging nemesis!

 Mike Bryan, Retired head Sales Manager, Penguin Books
 04/03/2019, 7:30PM


A Romp Through 40,000 Years of Sculpture

Dr Helen Pheby will take us on an illustrated journey through the history of sculpture since prehistoric times, to Ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome, and on to the present day. There will be a focus on the radical changes in sculpture since Auguste Rodin, and looking at the growth and impact of the more abstract sculpture that we see today.

 Dr Helen Pheby,Senior Curator,Yorkshire Sculpture Park
 04/02/2019, 7:30PM


Traditional and contemporary songs 'They don't write them like that any more'

Performers of traditional and contemporary songs 'They don't write them like that any more' Based on being born and bred in the North West, Garry and Vera will sing and talk us through a number of their songs, looking at life in the raw throughout the region in their own well-researched, incisive, poignant way, laced with a delightful sprinkling of pragmatism and of course , humour.

 Gary and Vera Aspey
 03/12/2018, 7:30PM


A Millennium Of Monasticism

The rise in the number and power of the monasteries during the early part of the 2nd millennium was remarkable, and threatening. Father Michael looks at their influence and in particular at the Premonstratensians, and Mother Kate of Warburton (and Chester) against the wider background of monastic life and development.

 Fr Michael Burgess, St Peter’s Church Oughtrington
 05/11/2018, 7:30PM


Technological dead ends: ideas that have gone nowhere

So many mind-blowing ideas and inventions have never been widely embraced by Society! Perhaps we might have enjoyed more of the magic of Man’s inventive prowess had at least some of these logic-defying ideas been more fervently pursued. Dr Southall takes a sideways look at the wonders of the improbable.

 Dr Dave Southall, Retired lecturer in Electronic Engineering MMU
 01/10/2018, 7:30PM


Industrialisation, Population Change and Public Health in Lancashire

The fact that Great Britain was the world's pioneering industrial nation from around 1750 to 1850 is firmly established, but historians continue to dispute the pace, the extent and the impact of the Revolution. So, what can research tell us about the ways in which population growth, urbanisation and the public health consequences affected our local forebears?

 Dr David Crompton
 09/04/2018, 7:30PM


Slow Boat Cargo

Liz McIvor, the well-known historian of Britain's canal development, will examine the ways cargoes were moved by land and water before the canal boom and the 18th Century 'Amazon effect.' She will explain the large-scale engineering projects in the industrial period for long distance haulage by waterways, and comment on the post-industrial use of this heritage..

 Liz McIvor
 05/03/2018, 7:30PM


The Golden Age of Murder

The speaker is a locally-based lawyer who has earned distinction in every field of crime fiction. He is currently Chairman of the Crime Writers’ Association and President of the Detection Club. He will discuss the crime fiction of the golden age between the wars, not cosy escapist cliché as some claim, but a substantial body of literature, a transmutation of real criminal cases, of the stresses in the authors’ lives and an urge to come to terms with the senseless carnage of the trenches.

 Martin Edwards
 05/02/2018, 7:30PM


Excavating Engels

The speaker will use recently uncovered archaeological evidence about Manchester’s historical slums to see if it can throw useful light on what Victorian social commentators said about problems of over-crowding, immigration, poor construction, poor ventilation, disease and sanitation.

 Dr Mike Nevell, Salford University
 04/12/2017, 7:30PM


Bog Bodies

The speaker will examine how these compelling Iron Age and early Roman relics enable us to encounter - face-to-face - people from our ancient past. They and those who brought about their deaths evidently had beliefs and understandings about the world very different from ours, and the speaker will discuss new evidence and different ideas relating to one of the most local examples: Worsley Man.

 Dr Melanie Giles, Manchester University
 06/11/2017, 7:30PM


Experiments in Philosophy

This will be a brief introduction to the subject of Experimental Philosophy, a very recent and exciting development in the subject of philosophy. The talk will cover some aspects of the thinking behind the subject and the methods employed. Concentrating on ethics, morality and moral responsibility the meeting will include some audience participation. No expertise required - it's all intuitive!

 Mick Dean, President, Warrington Lit and Phil
 02/10/2017, 7:30PM


What a Poet Sees

Interviewed by the Reverend Canon Michael Burgess, this distinguished prize-winning poet will discuss the art of poetry and his own writing, and will read from his work. After graduating in philosophy and theology and training as a journalist he has worked as a radio producer, a documentary film maker and as Head of Development for BBC Religion and Ethics. He left the BBC to teach at MMU, and to focus on writing, including lyrics and libretti for the composer James MacMillan. He could be seen as a modern John Donne, producing poems which are sharply observed and concise, but rich in metaphysical meaning.]

 Professor Michael Symmons Roberts, Manchester Metropolitan University
 03/04/2017, 7:30PM


Ruskin and the Daguerreotype

The Ruskin Library at Lancaster University, of which Professor Wildman is Director, holds 125 daguerreotypes – the first permanent photographic process – out of the 300 which formed John Ruskin’s collection by 1858. Ruskin’s interest in this new medium will be explained, illustrated in the range of subject matter which the images cover, chiefly architecture and landscape in France, Switzerland and Italy.

 Professor Stephen Wildman, Lancaster University
 06/03/2017, 7:30PM


Manchester Broadside Ballads

Jennifer Reid is a Lancashire folk enthusiast from Middleton, Manchester. Jennifer will perform broadside ballads from the collections housed in Manchester Central Library, Chetham's Library and the Working Class Movement Library and deliver a talk around the themes and historical content of the ballads. The ballads feature Lancashire dialect, working life during the Industrial Revolution and the bawdy nature of Victorian society.

 Jennifer Reid, Independent Scholar and Singer
 06/02/2017, 7:30PM


Depicting the Dead

Professor Wilkinson is Director of the School of Art & Design and an expert on face reconstruction from skulls (e.g. Richard III, J.S. Bach, Rameses II and Mary, Queen of Scots). She has a background in art and science and her research and creative work sits at the forefront of art-science fusion and includes forensic art, human anatomy, medical art, face recognition, forensic science, anthropology, 3D visualization, digital art and craniofacial identification.

 Professor Caroline Wilkinson, Liverpool John Moores University
 05/12/2016, 7:30PM