chapter  2
A brief history of the Mechanics’ Institute Movement
Pages 16

Industrialists and manufacturers from at least the last decade of the eighteenth century were realising the importance of education and training with regard to both family and workforce, pre-dating the Mechanics’ Institute Movement. Several organisations and societies were being established for this purpose. Dick (2008: 568) highlights the importance of one of these, the Lunar Society, which was ‘a network of male scientists, industrialists and writers’ who were all part of this ‘energetic British philosophical society which symbolised enlightenment in science’ in the Midlands between 1765 and 1791. Members included Matthew Boulton, who in 1762 opened his Soho Works, which manufactured a variety of products from buttons to steam engines, and James Keir, inventor and industrialist of glass manufacture, chemicals and mining. Other members included Thomas Day, radical writer and educationalist, Richard Edgeworth, inventor and educationalist, Joseph Priestley, experimental scientist, educationalist, political and religious campaigner, Josiah Wedgwood, the ceramics manufacturer, and James Watt, partner of Matthew Boulton and inventor who improved the efficiency of the steam engine (ibid.). Other scientists and manufacturers were in correspondence with members of the Lunar Society, including Benjamin Franklin and Joseph Wright, who regularly discussed and debated ideas with them.