Literary and Philosophical Society of Newcastle, Newcastle upon Tyne

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#39 of 205 in Things to do in Newcastle upon Tyne
Library Traveler Resource
The Literary and Philosophical Society of Newcastle upon Tyne is a historical library in Newcastle upon Tyne, England, and the largest independent library outside London. The library is still available for both lending and as a free reference library.FoundingFounded in 1793 as a "conversation club" by the Reverend William Turner and others – more than fifty years before the London Library – the annual subscription was originally one guinea. The Lit and Phil library contained works in French, Spanish, German and Latin; its contacts were international, and its members debated a wide range of issues, but religion and politics were prohibited. Women were first admitted to the library in 1804. In February 2011, actor and comedian Alexander Armstrong became President of the Lit & Phil. He launched their funding appeal at a special gala event. At the start of 2012, membership of the Library reached 2,000, the highest number since 1952.HistoryDuring the 19th and 20th centuries, the Lit & Phil was host to a long list of the intelligentsia of the era. Engineer and inventor George Stephenson showed his miner's lamp there, and in 1879, when Joseph Swan demonstrated his electric light bulbs, the Lit and Phil building became the first public building to be so illuminated.
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Reviews
TripAdvisor Traveler Rating
112 reviews
Google
4.6
TripAdvisor
  • This is a fascinating place. If I lived nearer I would become a member as you could spend years there and not see everything.  more »
  • This lovely old building on Westgate Road just down from the Central Station is definitely one of Newcastle's hidden gems. It has reminders of the golden age of the Industrial Revolution when patrons ...  more »
  • The Lit & Phil is a beautiful old building located on Westgate Road in Newcastle (not far from the Central Station and has disabled facilities). It has a diverse programme of lectures, concerts, class...  more »
Google
  • Another world with ancient (and new) books, oak tables, and iron curlicue railings off the middle of the town centre. You can drop in and browse without being a member, they don't bite (although some may speak at length...). Some interesting displays, lectures and clubs there too for the interested. And if you become a member you can enter the SILENCE ROOM on your own
  • Staff here are famous for their mean-spirited and rude attitude. Don't book an event here. I made that mistake and they couldn't have been more petty about everything even though it was an event for a local charity. Their pathetic attitude undermines a wonderful venue which deserves better.
  • I popped in on a visit to Newcastle. A wonderful historic atmosphere, smell of old books and quirky vibe. Clearly a huge range of old and new works but no public computers, which to keep the atmosphere I think is a good thing (although people bring their laptops). Obviously a place run by people who love it (it is a charity) so I would reccommend you visit and support this precious place!
  • Brilliant place to write, I'm working on my novel there. Amazing range of books (I got an original print by Joseph Stalin). Plenty of facilities- toilets, coffee shop, silent work rooms, performance rooms. If you want to do practically any research, check it out. If you want to do some work, you should definitely go!
  • Beautiful library!

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Where to stay in Newcastle upon Tyne

Newcastle upon Tyne hosts a variety of hotels, ranging from ultramodern to traditional. To experience the city's world-class culture and vibrant nightlife, stay close to the compact town center, famous for fine dining and shopping. Booking your rooms in the picturesque city center will keep you close to all the urban action, while allowing you easy access to the surrounding coastline. For a more affordable and much quieter experience of the area, consider staying at a B&B or a boutique hotel in the surrounding countryside.
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