LITERARY, SCIENTIFIC, AND MECHANICAL INSTITUTION.
Associations for imparting scientific knowledge to persons engaged in mechanical
pursuits were, a few years ago, formed in England, Scotland, Ireland, America,
and France. The great utility of such institutions being obvious, a few persons
agreed to convene, by advertisement, a public meeting, to be held in Fletcher's Long
Room, on February 26, 1824, in order to consider the expediency of attempting the
formation of such an establishment in Newcastle upon Tyne. At this meeting, Mr.
George Stephenson, engineer, presided, the plan was approved of, resolutions were
passed for carrying it into effect, and a committee was appointed to draw up the necessary rules. Another public meeting was held in the Joiners' Hall on the 16th of
March following, Mr. Robert Robson, mason, in the chair, when the present rules
were adopted, a general committee chosen, and the Institution was finally organized.
As it was not designed for mechanics alone, but for the benefit of all the industrious
classes of Society, and especially of ingenious young men whose limited income precluded their admission into more expensive establishments, it very properly was designated, "The Literary, Scientific, and Mechanical Institution, of Newcastle upon
Persons at the age of 20 years are eligible to become members of this society; but
young men between 14 and 20 may be admitted as reading members, and to attend
the classes. Members are chosen by ballot, and each subscribes twelve shillings annually. The general meetings of the society are held on the first Monday in every
month. The officers and committee are chosen at the anniversary meeting in March. (fn. 1)
All books or discussions on party politics and controversial divinity are strictly
By great exertion, the nucleus of a library was formed, and a large school-room in
Pilgrim Street was opened for the use of the members on the 27th of April after the
institution of the society; and, shortly after, Mr. Charles Purvis was appointed librarian. On May 11, the first regular monthly meeting was held; when an appropriate
Introductory Address was read by the Rev. W. Turner, one of the vice-presidents,
and which was ordered to be printed. On November 8, the library was removed to
another school-room in St. Nicholas' Church-yard, from whence it was removed, in
July, 1825, to the Masonic Hall, Newgate Street, which was fitted up in an economical, convenient, and comfortable manner. The apartments below the library-room
are appropriated to the use of the classes and the meetings of the committee. After
the society had entered upon these commodious premises, the Rev. W. Turner,
assisted by Mr. John Daglish, chemist, and Mr. Henry Smith, gratuitously delivered
to the members an instructive course of lectures on Chemistry. In the spring of this
year, Mr. J. Jackson had delivered to the Institution a course of lectures on popular
subjects of Natural Philosophy, in Fletcher's Long Room, agreeably to a plan suggested
by the committee, and by which the members were gratified without encroaching on
the funds. The general meetings have been rendered interesting by papers from Mr.
John Dobson, Mr. Eneas Mackenzie, Mr. Henry Atkinson, &c. and latterly by a
series of scientific lectures, communicated through Henry Brougham, Esq. M. P. Lectures on the steam-engine have also been delivered by Mr. E. Galloway, jun. engineer.
The accounts of the first two years of this Institution, on the 1st March, 1826,
|Donations (fn. 2) ||271||1||0||Books and binding||419||6||5½|
|Annual benefactions||31||10||0||Advertising, printing, & stationary||43||19||2|
|Interest||1||16||2||Rent, taxes, coals, candles, cleaning, &c.||52||10||0|
|Bal. due from W. Holmes, treasurer||10||10||0½|
This society equals, if not surpasses, in practical utility, most similar ones.
There are above 400 payable members; and the library already contains about 3000
volumes, several of which are both scarce and expensive. Many of the books were
presented by the late Bishop of Durham, the Rev. T. H. Scott, the Rev. W. Turner,
W. C. Trevelyan, Esq. James Losh, Esq. Messrs. Charnley, Mackenzie, Clarke,
Murray, Galloway, and many others. Every encouragement has been given to the
formation of classes, for studying the practical sciences, and those arts and acquirements most useful in life. Classes for studying Chemistry, the Mathematics, Geography and the Use of the Globes, Architectural Drawing, Figure and Landscape
Drawing, and the French Language, have been organized. Most of these continue
their studies with great perseverance. The Language Class and Figure Drawing
Class are attended by masters, whom the students pay by a small weekly subscription.
The other classes have hitherto been taught gratuitously by some of the members.
Thus the Institution may very properly be styled an extensively useful "school of
instruction."—"Nothing," it is observed in the first year's annual report, "can present to the philanthropist such a pleasing picture as the orderly, respectful, and attentive behaviour of the young men who every evening attend the library, to study the
pages of illustrious philosophers, moralists, historians, travellers, and mechanics; thus
qualifying themselves to become intelligent and respectable members of society, instead of spending their time in the streets, in ale-houses, or in loose company, to the
injury of their health, their character, and their happiness. Were masters and fathers
of families to visit the Institution, we might calculate on the zealous support of every
one who regards the welfare of the rising generation."