WILLIAM TURNER (1761 - 1859)
Turner was barely 21 when he became minister of the Unitarian Chapel in Hanover Square in Newcastle, which he was to serve for 59 years. He arrived from Wakefield in 1782 and according to Charleton was 'active in all good works in his newly-adopted town'. He actively campaigned for education and prison reform, and against slavery and capital punishment. Turner opened two pioneering Sunday Schools in 1784 and presented his plan for what became the Literary and Philosophical Society on 24 January 1793. Turner served as its secretary for the first 44 years of its existence. He was himself an indefatigable speaker at the society, whose wide-ranging lectures were, according to Robert Spence Watson 'practically the only things of the kind which were available'. Turner advised: 'Be not backwards to impart all the knowledge and wisdom yourselves possess, to enrich the minds of your friends.'
Many notable figures treated elsewhere in this compilation spoke at the Lit and Phil. In 1815, George Stephenson demonstrated his miner's lamp there and in 1844, William Armstrong demonstrated the principle of his hydraulic power machine. When Thomas Sopwith spoke in that year, the crowds were so great, people had to be turned away. The first public demonstration of the electric light bulb by Joseph Swan came on 13 February 1879, when the 70 gas jets were extinguished and 20 electric lamps lit the room.
Later speakers make up a roll-call of the British 19th and early 20th century intelligentsia:
Froude; Bury; Gertrude Bell; Hugh Trevor-Roper; T.H. Huxley; Oscar Wilde; G K Chesterton; Marriott; Gooch; H.A.L Fisher; Flinders Petrie; Gilbert Murray; Ezra Pound (1919); Trevelyan; Elizabeth Boqwen; Gosse; Andrew Lang; Edith Sitwell; Edward Clark; Clive Bell; Roger Fry; E.M. Forster; John Middleton Murry; De La Mare; Masefield; Herbert Read; Newbolt; Eddington; Bragg; Belloc; Whymper; Morley; Mandell Creighton; Dorothy L. Sayers.