Tom Keighley

Member Article

Securing the future of a North East treasure

It was once the seat of North East thinking, a venue that hosted some of the most important conversations to have happened in the North of England.

Newcastle’s Literary and Philosophical Society (Lit & Phil) has seen the likes of Robert Stephenson, Joseph Swan and Elizabeth Watson through its doors - great minds in the history of the North East.

Despite a thriving community of members, the building is in need of care and attention, and the Lit & Phil has now launched an appeal to secure its future as centre of cultural vitality.

Bdaily recently spoke with North East business luminary Bill Midgley, who is passionate about keeping the Lit & Phil at the centre of the region’s future.

“In the 18th and 19th century, the Lit & Phil was where the great and good of the North East met and were hugely instrumental in developing the region, and since then it has losts its way somewhat. We need to get back to that.

“It has an ambiance that is unique in the region, and although it sounds a little twee, it really is a place that can inspire people, so lets see if we can get a head of steam building - and in turn rejuvenate the North East,” said Bill.

So far the appeal has raised £200,000, and the Lit & Phil has also submitted an application to the heritage lottery fund. Discussions with Newcastle City Council are underway, as a portion of the Roman Wall runs beside the building, which could be uncovered as an exhibit, bringing benefits through regeneration.

Bill would like to see the venue become central to the the region’s business community once again, and suggests that now, more than ever, it is time for businesses to round the table and drive the region forward.

He added: “You can blame government, but we only elect governments in the hope they will create the right conditions for business, through tax and so on. There’s a lot of problems regionally, and with the economy as a whole. It’s up to business to do the thinking and help themselves out.”

Part of the appeal plan is to increase commercial activity and engagement, and Bill is calling on businesses to make use the fantastic surroundings of the Lit & Phil as somewhere to discuss and tackle these challenges.

“It’s a place for discussion and debate, and ultimately a place where action can take place. We need to make sure we preserve the Lit & Phil as a North East asset, and it’s a great venue from which businesses can launch their success.”

The North East Leadership Group has answered Bill’s rallying cry, and are set to launch their innovative group knowledge-sharing network for SMEs at the Lit & Phil next month. Read our recent chat with the Group here.

To find out more about the Lit & Phil, visit their website here.

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Tom Keighley .

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