Lecture Syllabus 2023-2024

The following lectures have been arranged for members but everyone is welcome to come. All meetings will be at the Leeds Library at 6pm, or by Zoom or both, depending on the circumstances.

Please note that this year the evening lectures will be on a Thursday.

The talks will mainly be both live and on Zoom so please use the link on each lecture to book your place. Please select either to attend in person or to use Zoom. The Eventbrite links make booking easy and they send you reminder mails. If you are registered with Eventbrite it will also tell you if you try to book more than once.

Many of our recent lectures are now on YouTube and a list of those available can be found here.

Thursday September 28th

Towards an Art Gallery for Leeds, 1858–1888

This lecture is hosted in partnership with Leeds Civic Trust

In this talk Rebecca Wade offers a short history of the long campaign to establish a permanent art gallery in Leeds. From the first attempt to instigate a civic collection alongside the opening of Leeds Town Hall, we follow a largely untold story over the course of thirty eventful years, culminating in the successful opening of Leeds Art Gallery in 1888. Across these three decades in the second half of the nineteenth century, we witness the effects of intense civic rivalry, the influence of voluntary societies and the emergence of a municipal culture that continues to inform our relationship with the visual arts today.

Dr Rebecca Wade is a Project Archivist in Special Collections and Galleries at the University of Leeds and Deputy Editor of Art History, the journal of the Association for Art History. Her second monograph, An Exhibition History of Victorian Leeds, was published by Liverpool University Press in 2023.

Thursday October 26th Berenblum and the Bari bombsBerenblum and the Bari bombs

Andy Wilson delivers a talk exploring how tragic incidents in both World Wars and the work of a young researcher in Leeds, Isaac Berenblum, all contributed to the discovery of chemotherapy.

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Wednesday November 8th
@ 1pm

The Irish in Leeds before 1914.

by Janet Douglas

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Wednesday November 15th
@ 1pm

From Laundries to Take Aways: The Chinese Presence in Leeds

by Janet Douglas

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Wednesday November 22nd @ 1pm

The Sikh Community in Leeds

by Dr Jasjit Singh

Sorry this has now been postponed

Thursday November 23rd Proctor BrothersAnything in Wire: The History of Procter Brothers Ltd

Procter Brothers can trace their origins back to 1740 and are one of Leeds’ oldest firms. Based on her book of the same title, Andrea Hetherington will tell their story. From global events to personal tragedies this talk shows how a firm, a city and a family navigate almost 275 years of British history.

Thursday December 21st

Oates familyMerchants, Lawyers and Explorers: The Oates family of Leeds 1700 - 1917

Steven Burt will draw on his latest research to highlight the important role this illustrious family played in the development of Chapel Allerton.

This talk was on Zoom only

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Thursday January 18th

‘The Friend of Poor Children’: Dr William Hall

Janet Douglas will talk about her research into the life and achievements of Dr William Hall – a pioneer of preventative medicine and the health of children.


Thursday February 22nd

Back-to-back-housingBack-to-back housing: Past, present and future

The first half of the talk sees Dr. Joanne Harrison explore the architectural development of back-to-back houses and their social history in Leeds, from their origin in 1787 to the changing urban layouts and building forms of the 19th and early 20th centuries. These were shaped by the role of speculative developers, building societies, sanitary reformers, the various government bills, acts and by-laws and the determined people of Leeds, resulting in in a house type that overcame all of the criticisms of back-to-backs by the time their construction was prohibited in 1909.  In the second half of the talk Dr. Harrison will focuse on the houses as they stand today in the Harehills area, and how communities are working to secure the future of their neighbourhood.

Thursday March 21st

Cricket in Yorkshire Cricket in Yorkshire: How did it all begin?

In the 18th and early 19th centuries, cricket in Yorkshire lagged well behind that played in London and the south-east, where it had been popular for many decades. Drawing on two of his books, covering the period from the 1750s to the 1890s, Jeremy Lonsdale will discuss how cricket emerged in Yorkshire and grew in popularity throughout the 19th century.

Against the background of significant changes in English society in the 18th century, the talk will highlight: the slow spread of the game in Yorkshire before 1820; the rapid development of commercial cricket in Sheffield in the 1820s; and the increased linking-up of cricketers from different parts of the county in the 1830s following improvements in transport. It also covers other aspects of the game’s growth, including changes in how it was played to make it more of a spectacle; the opening of several enclosed grounds; and the growing programme of hard-fought matches between major clubs in the 1840s. A lack of funds and leadership in the game, and insufficient high-quality players slowed developments, but by mid-century, cricket was an important part of Yorkshire life.

Cricket spread rapidly during the Victorian era. Growing expectations of what was required to be a high-performing local club, allied to the increasingly competitive spirit in which the game was played, meant clubs sought greater support from within their local communities to fund the game. Cricket became increasingly visible in everyday life – in the press, in schools and even in the courts - so that by 1900, all the foundations were in place for Yorkshire cricket to be the strongest in the country.

The speaker – Jeremy Lonsdale studied history at King’s College, London. He has written five books on different periods of the history of cricket in Yorkshire.

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Thursday April 18th

The Lord Mayor, Councillor Al Garthwaite, will be present.

Followed by a lecture on Godfrey Bingley, Leeds’ Most Prolific Photographer, 1842 – 1927
Middle-class life, industry, politics, religion and photography in Victorian and Edwardian Headingley, Meanwood, Leeds and the Cotswolds. Dr Kevin Grady explores the remarkable activities and family associations of this former Thoresby Society member.

Book on Eventbrite
In Person
On Zoom