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Lecture series

As one would expect the majority of the lecturers were drawn from the staff at Owens College and names such as Williamson and Roscoe will be familiar if only through walking by the buildings on the University campus bearing their names.  The scope of the topics covered, however, was wide-ranging and a number of internationally renowned figures did draw large general audiences in venues right across the city.  Heralded in The Times as “a good proof of ‘the right thing in the right place,’” [The Times, 25 December 1875] the quality of the Lectures was also praised in glowing terms within the greater scientific community:

“What sane reviewer dare venture to criticise the collective wisdom of Professors Huxley, Tyndall, Roscoe, Gladstone, Geikie, Balfour Stewart, Odling, Clifford, W.C. Williamson, Wilkins, Ward, Jevons, Drs Carpenter and Huggins, Mr Spottiswoode, Sir John Lubbock, and other famous men who make up the brilliant array of Manchester Lecturers?”

'The Manchester Science Lectures', Nature 2 December 1875, p.83

Methods of delivery varied and unfortunately, some of the more dramatic demonstrations and experiments, such as those illustrating developments in explosive 'Gun Cotton' aren’t readily reproducible online! (Its success with the Manchester public, however, may be inferred by Frederick Abel’s return visit from the Woolwich Arsenal to address 'The Modern History of Gunpowder' at a significantly larger venue – Manchester’s renowned Free Trade Hall). However, the printed versions of the lectures (from the Eighth Series onwards) were increasingly enhanced with often quite striking illustrations – and a sample selection can be viewed in the image carousel below, which also links to the relevant full text.

Second Series (Nov. 1870 – Feb. 1871)

Third Series (Nov. 1871 – Dec. 1871)

Fourth Series (Oct. 1872 – Feb. 1873)

Fifth Series (Oct. 1873 – Dec. 1873)

Sixth Series (Oct. 1874 – Dec. 1874)

Seventh Series (Oct. 1875 – Dec. 1875)

Eighth Series (Oct. 1876 – Nov. 1876)

Ninth Series (Oct. 1877 – Dec. 1877)

Tenth Series (Nov. 1878 – March 1879)

Eleventh Series (Oct. 1879 – Dec. 1879)