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Literary and Scientific Societies in Newcastle, 1855

Extract from: History, Topography, and Directory of Northumberland...Whellan, William, & Co, 1855.



THE LITERARY AND PHILOSOPHICAL SOCIETY occupies a fine edifice, in the Grecian style of architecture, which was erected, at a cost of about £12,000, in the year 1825, from a design by Mr. John Green. This structure is situated in Westgate-street, opposite the end of Collingwood-street. The society was founded in 1793, "for the discussion of the several branches of polite literature, inquiry into the situation and property of the mineral productions of this neighbourhood, and elucidation of the sciences applicable to commerce, antiquities, local history, biography, literary intelligence, nautical inquiries," etc. In the tenth year of the society's existence, a permanent lectureship was established, and the members have now an opportunity of attending courses of lectures delivered by the most eminent professors in the several departments of science and literature. 


THE NATURAL HISTORY SOCIETY is situated in buildings on the south side of the above institution, of which it is an offshoot. This society gives great attention to geognostic topics, and issues publications under the name of its transactions. It possesses a fine museum, which contains a valuable collection of birds and animals of various kinds, minerals, corals, and numerous curiosities, with drawings and sections of the coal district and that of the mountain limestone in the adjoining counties. The museum is open to the public from eleven to four every day, Sundays excepted, at a nominal charge for admission.


THE ANTIQUARIAN SOCIETY, founded in 1813 by the exertions of Mr. John Bell, under the patronage of the Duke of Northumberland, is situated in the Castle. This society was formed for the purpose of “inquiry into general subjects of antiquity, but more especially into those of the north of England, and particularly such as appertain to the counties of Northumberland, Cumberland, and Durham." The society is composed of ordinary, corresponding, and honorary members. Three valuable museums, belonging respectively to these three societies, are united under the name of the Newcastle Museum.


THE NORTH OF ENGLAND SOCIETY OF ARTS. – This institution, situated on the ground floor of the building in which the Literary and Philosophical Society holds its meetings, was established in 1837, and has for its object, not only the improvement of the public taste in matters appertaining to the fine arts, but also the bringing forward of such talent as might, without its aid, continue in obscurity. 


THE LITERARY, SCIENTIFIC, AND MECHANICAL INSTITUTION occupies the centre of a range of buildings in Blackett-street, between the Grey Column and Pilgrim-street, and possesses classes for chemistry, mathematics, geo¬graphy, drawing, modern languages, and various departments of practical science.


NEWCASTLE-UPON-TYNE COLLEGE OF MEDICINE, Neville Hall, Neville-street. This institution was founded in June, 1851, and in July of the same year received the recognition of the Worshipful Society of Apothecaries of London. In October, 1851, it was recognised by the Royal College of Surgeons of England, and in January, 1852, the Home Secretary empowered the University of London to receive the certificates of students at this institution for the purpose of graduation in medicine. The institution assumed a collegiate form in December, 1851, and was admitted into connection with the University of Durham in January, 1852. Resident medical tutor, demonstrator of anatomy, and curator of the Museums of Anatomy, Pathology, and Materia Medica, J.C. Penny, M.R.C.S.

In addition to the above, there are Medical, Medico-chirurgical, and Medical and Surgical Societies, instituted in 1800, 1823, and 1834, which simply collect books and hold private conferences - a Botanical and Horticultural Society, established in 1824, and a Phrenological Society, founded in 1835. And besides the libraries of the various institutions, there is one at Trinity House, another called St. Nicholas's, located near the church of that name, and containing a large, rare, and valuable collection, and a third called the Medical - the two latter are accessible to the public. 


Newcastle publishes four newspapers weekly, viz.:- THE NEWCASTLE COURANT (neutral), published in Pilgrim-street, on Friday – THE CHRONICLE (liberal) , Grey-street, Friday - THE NEWCASTLE GUARDIAN (liberal), Grainger-street, Saturday - THE NEWCASTLE JOURNAL (conservative), Grey-street, Saturday. These papers are given in the order of their establishment - they enjoy an extensive circulation.


Newcastle possesses four newsrooms, in which the various metropolitan and provincial journals, reviews, and magazines may be perused, viz. :- The Exchange Subscription Rooms in the south side of the Exchange - the Assembly Subscription News and Reading Rooms, in Westgate-street - the Central Exchange Subscription Newsroom, in Grey-street-and the newsroom of the Mechanics' Institute, situated in Blackett-street.


THE NEWCASTLE-UPON-TYNE, SHIELDS, AND GATESHEAD CHAMBER OF COMMERCE has been established for the following purposes, ·viz. :- " The redressing of all grievances in any way affecting the trade or commerce of the country, or the district, the suggesting or facilitating of any measures calculated to promote the commercial interests of the community, and, generally, the attainment of such objects connected therewith, as the exertions of individuals may be less adequate to accomplish." It now comprises upwards of one hundred members. 


RELIGIOUS AND MORAL SOCIETES. Newcastle possesses numerous associations, which exist as auxiliaries to the Bible, Missionary, and moral societies, general and denominational, of the metropolis. The associations, wholly or chiefly local, are the Bethel Union, established in 1822 - the Town Mission, begun in 1829 a Church Pastoral Aid Society, partly akin to a town mission, and instituted in 1836 - a Society for Promoting the Employment of Additional Curates, formed in 1838 - a Young Men's Society for Religious and Intellectual Improvement - a Total Abstinence Society - a Lord's Day Society - and a Society for Clergymen's Sons. A list of these various associations, with the names of the officers, etc., will be found in the Directory, under the above head. 


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Newcastle, 1855


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