Catalogue description OLDHAM LYCEUM

This record is held by Oldham Local Studies & Archives

Details of D-M20
Reference: D-M20

D-M20/1 Board of Directors


D-M20/2 Finance Committee


D-M20/3 General Purposes Committee


D-M20/4 Literary Committee


D-M20/5 Literary Club


D-M20/6 Class Committee


D-M20/7 Ladies' Committee


D-M20/8 Social Committee


D-M20/9 Other Committees


D-M20/10 Membership


D-M20/11 School of Music


D-M20/12 Miscellaneous

Date: 1838 - 1986
Related material:

Oldham Local Studies:


History of the Oldham Lyceum, 1839 - 1897 by Arthur Tait, 1897 (PRFHL) open access


The Oldham Lyceum in the 20th Century (1900 - 1970) by W Rothwell Heywood (unpublished) (PRFHL) oversize


Annals of the Oldham Lyceum, no 1, 1839 by Michael Russell (PRFHL) pamphlet


Annals of the Oldham Lyceum, no 2, 1914-1915 by Michael Russell (PRFHL) pamphlet


Robin Roofyed's Peep at the Owdum Lyceum Exibeeshun, 1840 (PRFHL: QYK) pamphlet


An Address to the Inhabitants of Oldham on behalf of the Lyceum by Richard James Broome, 1848 (PRFHL) open access


Account of the Opening Proceedings and Banquet for the Exhibition, 22 Jul 1854 (PRFHL: QYK) pamphlet


The Industrial and Educational Exhibition (extract from the Illustrated London News), 2 Sep 1854 (PRFHL: QYK) pamphlet


Opening of Oldham Lyceum (extract from Oldham Chronicle), Sep 1856 (PRFHL) pamphlet


The Lyceum, Oldham - an Institution for the Improvement and Recreation of the Industrious Classes (notice) (PRFHL) pamphlet


Oldham Lyceum Annual Report, 1854 (PRFHL 75) reserve stock


Oldham Lyceum Annual Reports, 1883 - 1886 (PRFHL 75) reserve stock


Oldham Lyceum Annual Reports, 1887 - 1893 (PRFHL 75) reserve stock


Oldham Lyceum Annual Reports, 1896 - 1904 (PRFHL 75) reserve stock


Oldham Lyceum Annual Reports, 1906 - 1911 (PRFHL 75) reserve stock


Oldham Lyceum Annual Report, 1920 (PRFHL 75) reserve stock


Oldham Lyceum Annual Reports, 1924 - 1933 (PRFHL 75) reserve stock


Oldham Lyceum Annual Reports, 1936 - 1940 (PRFHL 75) reserve stock


Oldham Lyceum Annual Reports, 1944 - 1947 (PRFHL 75) reserve stock


Oldham Lyceum Annual Reports, 1954 - 1956 (PRFHL) pamphlet


Rules for the Government of the Oldham Lyceum (PRFHL) pamphlet


Rules, 1899 (PRFHL) pamphlet


Oldham Lyceum Exhibition Catalogue, 1 Jan 1840, St Peter's School (PRFHL) reserve stock


Exhibition Catalogue, 1840 (PRFHL 42) pamphlet


Catalogue of the 2nd Exhibition, 1845 (PRFHL: QYK) pamphlet


Oldham Lyceum Exhibition Catalogue, 17 Jul 1854 (PRFHL 42) reserve stock


Exhibition Catalogue, 1854 (PRFHL) pamphlet


Educational and Industrial Exhibition in the Working Man's Hall (poster), Jul 1854 (PRFHL) pamphlet


Catalogue of the Educational and Industrial Exhibition, 17 Jul 1854 (PRFHL) pamphlet


Appeal for Exhibits, 1854 (PRFHL: QYK) pamphlet


Library Catalogue, 1850 (PRFHL 42) pamphlet


Oldham Lyceum Library Catalogue, 1880 (PRFHL 42) reserve stock


Appendix to Library Catalogue (PRFHL 42) pamphlet


Library Catalogue (PRFHL 42) pamphlet


Grand Soiree (poster), 13 Jan 1848 (PRFHL) pamphlet


Laying of the Foundation Stone (poster), 1855 (PRFHL :QYO) pamphlet


Oldham Lyceum Removal to the New Building (poster), 1856 (PRFHL 6) pamphlet


Inauguration of the New Building (poster), 1856 (PRFHL :QYO) pamphlet


Concert Programme, 20 Sep 1854 (PRFHL:QYK) pamphlet


Programme and Miscellaneous Concert in aid of the Bottomley Fund, 8 Dec 1886 (PRFHL) pamphlet


Souvenir and Official Handbook: Grand Floral Bazaar, 11, 12 & 13 Feb 1904 (PRFHL) pamphlet (copy ofD-M20/12/4)


Programme: West Pennine Music Festival, Lyceum School of Music, 19 & 20 Nov 1982 (PRFHL) pamphlet


Educational Classes and Lectures: Programmes, 1894/5, 1896/7, 1897/8, 1898/9 (PRFHL 62) pamphlet


Literary Club Programme, 1959/6 (PRFHL :YF) pamphlet


School of Music Prospectus and Regulations. 1956/7 (PRFHL 62) pamphlet


School of Music Prospectus and Regulations. 1958 - 1962 (PRFHL: YR) pamphlet


Advantages Afforded to Members, 1896 (PRFHL) pamphlet


Advantages Afforded to Members, 1915 (PRFHL) pamphlet


Information Brochure, 1972 (PRFHL) pamphlet (copy of D-M20/12/23)

Held by: Oldham Local Studies & Archives, not available at The National Archives
Language: English

Oldham Lyceum

Physical description: 0.743 cubic metres
Immediate source of acquisition:

Accession 2000-027 donated by Mr W R Heywood in 1982 and 1988

Custodial history:

The records contain a mix of volumes and papers; manuscript and printed records. The collection seems to be fairly comprehensive, and reflects most of the activities carried out by the Lyceum. The records are generally in good condition.


Access is not permitted to one item (ref D-M20/2/2/1) until it has been conserved.


Photocopying of these records may be possible, depending on their size and condition. Please ask a member of staff.

  • Oldham, Lancashire
  • Oldham, Greater Manchester
Administrative / biographical background:

The idea for the Oldham Lyceum is credited to a Mr Buckland of Manchester, who was vice-president of Miles Platting Mechanics' Institute and also involved with the Lyceum in Ancoats. At a Unitarian School tea party in Oldham at Christmas 1838, he commented on the lack of such an institution in the town and thereby prompted a number of young men present to invite the public to join with them in promoting the foundation of a Lyceum in Oldham.


A provisional committee was established, which met twice a week in a room opposite the Crown and Anchor Inn in Henshaw Street. Their activities drew the attention of Mr Horatio Nelson, a hatter of Waterloo Street. He organised a public meeting in Mr Braddock's room in Church Terrace on 15 February 1839, at which the following resolution was passed: "That this meeting is of opinion that it is highly desirable that Oldham should at length emulate the example of every town of importance in the Kingdom, by establishing a Lyceum, or Mechanics' Institution, having for its object the moral and intellectual improvement of the inhabitants".


The Oldham Lyceum opened on 1 April 1839 in a house on Queen Street and within three months had 576 members. It included a library and a newsroom, and organised a variety of classes. In order to raise funds and public awareness, exhibitions were organised, the first in 1840 at St Peter's School in Union Street, and the second in 1844 at the Town Hall. In 1845, the Lyceum moved to new premises in Clegg Street.


As membership numbers increased, it became evident that another new home was needed for the Lyceum and in 1854 a major exhibition was held to raise funds for a new building. The exhibition lasted 18 weeks, sold 100,000 admission tickets, and made a profit of £2155 11s 6d. The foundation stone for the new building was laid by the Lyceum President, Mr James Platt on 25 June 1855, and just over a year later, on 22 September 1856, the new Lyceum on Union Street was opened.


Less than ten years later, the building was extended, when the School of Science and Art opened in January 1865. Originally a single storey building, it provided accommodation for 300 students, with classes for freehand drawing, machine construction, and mechanical philosophy. The specification library was transferred from the Town Hall and the basement was equipped as a gymnasium. The cost of £2,000 was met by John Platt.


The School quickly outgrew its home. It was demolished and replaced by a two storey building which was opened in 1881. This structure was built in the same style as the Lyceum and was capable of housing 651 students. Costing over £9,000, the new school was paid for by John Platt's sons. However, improvements in educational provision generally meant that the School's role was changing and in 1892 it was transferred to Oldham Borough Council to form part of the Municipal Technical College. It later became the Union Street Community Centre.


Membership of the Lyceum continued to grow throughout the nineteenth century, and the facilities on offer increased. In 1864, a dome was erected above the chemical laboratory to create an observatory, and a year later, the Lyceum opened the billiards room when it was presented with its first billiards table. The room had to be enlarged in 1894 when a fourth table was added.


In 1892, the Literary Club was formed, and an agreement was made for the formation of the School of Music. 1894 was a year of many changes. The Secretary's house was taken over for educational purposes, the room adjoining the library was converted to a ladies' reading room, electric lights were installed and new toilets were built.


As the Lyceum moved into the twentieth century, the services on offer reflected the rapid pace of technological change. A telegraphic service was installed in the newsroom, and by 1902 was receiving six cotton reports a day and a weekly report from New York. In 1911, the Photographic Society installed a dark room. and ten years later, the Oldham Lyceum Wireless Society was formed. Although they were allocated a room at the top of the building, they were forced to leave in 1923 because of difficult reception conditions.


For the duration of the First World War, members of the Forces were granted honorary memberships of the Lyceum, and in 1916 the Lyceum hosted an ambulance class run by the Oldham Volunteer Corps. Honorary memberships were again granted to the Forces during the Second World War, and at that time, the basement room was strengthened for use as an air raid shelter. World War Two also caused problems for those attending committee meetings. Therefore, it was decided that all Directors should become members of sub-committees and that sub-committee meetings should be held prior to the monthly board meeting. The proceedings of each sub-committee were approved by those Directors present. These arrangements proved so convenient that they continued long after the end of the war.


The social changes which occurred in Britain between the wars left their impact upon the Lyceum. In 1919, lady members were permitted to use the newsroom for the first time, and six years later they formed their own Ladies' Committee, which was to prove highly successful at raising money to keep the Lyceum going.


As the need for adult education declined, new incentives were required to encourage people to join. A special junior membership rate was introduced in 1926 for those aged between 16 and 18, and in 1929 an interchange of membership was arranged with the Manchester Atheneum, Leeds Institute of Science, and the Mechanics' Institutes in Burnley and Bradford. By 1936, the newsroom was no longer seen as necessary and became the Café Lounge, later known as the Assembly Room. A Dramatic Society had been formed in 1928, and in 1938 a theatre was opened in the basement.


Following the end of the Second World War, the role of the Lyceum continued to change. The Lyceum Cine Society was formed in 1945. Amongst the many films they produced was that of the Oldham Borough Centenary Celebrations in 1949. The Dramatic Society became the Lyceum Players in 1948, and the Billiards Committee was established in 1952. Six years later, the Lyceum Musical Society began, and the Ladies' Committee formed a Bridge Club in 1961. A sure sign of the Lyceum's declining educational role came in 1960, when the library service was discontinued and the library was convered into a Members' Lounge.


As the Lyceum's function evolved, the building housing it began to cause problems. It had been placed on the Ministry of Housing and Local Government's list of buildings of historical and architectural interest in 1951, but just eight years later, a survey revealed a wide range of problems with the structure and a Special Appeal Fund was launched. In October 1972, the building was sandblasted, and by 1977 more work was needed to replace the roof and strengthen the walls, costing £30,000.


As membership of the Lyceum dwindled, it became increasingly evident that they could no longer afford to maintain the building. In 1986, it was given to Oldham Metropolitan Borough Council on the condition that accommodation was provided for the Lyceum School of Music and the Lyceum Players. After a massive refurbishment programme, costing £1.25 million, £46,700 of which came from English Heritage, the building was reopened as a music centre in September 1989.

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