September’s Monthly Meeting

Vice Chair’s report of the Members’ meeting, 15th September 2016.

Greetings to all members.

Two new members joined 87 other members and 11 visitors, on a warm day, for our September meeting. Gill Radford introduced herself as the new Vice Chair and fronted the meeting in Ernie’s absence.

Gail Allaby gave her groups report, which was followed by a promotion by Richard White for a meeting at Hebden Bridge Town Hall, 9th October, to discuss safety; a notion highlighted in the recent Brexit discussions of which people seemingly do not have a common view, hence the meeting to discuss.

Our main speaker, Steve Halliwell, followed. His subject: Moses Holden; Astronomer, Lecturer and Methodist Evangelist.

This was an informative and interesting account of the life and works of Moses Holden, born 1877, the son of a hand loom weaver who became Freeman of the Borough of Preston. A self-educated genius who learnt to read at Sunday School, he was determined to become an astronomer after listening as a child to stories by Jeremiah Horrox.

He founded in Preston The Institute for the Diffusion of Knowledge which, working closely with the Temperance Movement, followed the blueprint of The Mechanics Institutes which were springing up in the surrounding towns.

He was a non-ordained Methodist Minister who completed an 18 month evangelical tour of the Fylde, leading Sunday School and Bible Group classes. This allowed him to fine-tune his skills as a public speaker and in turn he became a lecturing astronomer, talking about the telescopes, microscopes, clocks and magic lanterns that he had made. Touring the northern towns he lectured to audiences demonstrating his mathematical genius. He produced a transparent Orrery, and ultimately wrote a Celestial Handbook and Almanac featuring charts of planets, stars and comets, including, of course, Halley’s.

Moses Holden is mentioned on the Founders’ stone at the University of Central Lancashire, an accolade which exemplifies his life’s work in Preston and the surrounding area.

After responding to questions from members, Steve Halliwell was pleased to make available signed copies of his book.

Our next meeting will be on Thursday 20th October when our speaker will be Bernard Lockett and his subject: The musical theatre of Gilbert and Sullivan.

Gill Radford.