HSBC Bank, 33 Park Row, Leeds LS1 1LD
Site of the Philosophical Hall (1821)(Robert Chantrell, 1821)

The Leeds Philosophical and Literary Society was founded in 1819, as a result of a letter to the Leeds Mercury believed to have been written by the nineteen-year old Edward Baines Jr. (1800-90).  Its official aim was to elevate the intellectual tone of the town.  Unofficially, the society acted as one of the few places where the great and good of Leeds could mix socially, regardless of differences of religious or political faith (R. J. Morris, 1990, esp. chapter 9).

The Philosophical Hall was built on this site in 1821.  The building was damaged by enemy action during the second world war, and was demolished in 1966, although the Philosophical and Literary Society still exists, holding its lectures at the School of Music, University of Leeds.  The society’s museum formed the basis of the City Museum collection now housed in the Leeds Institute building on Cookridge Street where the society also has its administrative headquarters.

Although primarily remembered for his paper on town halls, Heaton was an active member of the ‘Phil. and Lit.’ throughout his time in Leeds, becoming a member of the Council in 1845/6 and serving as President for four successive years in 1868-72.   In 1861 he was raising funds to pay for extensive rebuilding of the hall, and the new building was eventually opened with an art exhibition on 16 Dec. 1862. (Journal, i. 257, 349; Leeds Mercury, 17 Dec. 1862). For an image of the Hall as it would have looked after the alterations, click here.

Further Reading:
Clark, Kitson (1924), Leeds Philosophical and Literary Society: History of one hundred years.  Leeds: Jowett & Sowry.
Morris, R. J. (1990), Class, Sect and Party: The Making of the British Middle Class.  Manchester: Manchester University Press.