title banner

The Lunar Society

Team of current members of the Lunar Society enjoying an event"A modern day Society with a historical heart"
The present-day Lunar Society provides a dynamic forum for its membership to influence change through focusing and informing debate, linking social, economic, scientific and cultural thinking, and catalysing action on issues critical to the common good. In the 200-plus years since the original Society, Birmingham and the region have changed beyond recognition. It is now a lively, multicultural city, open to the world. Its industrial base has high technology, medicine and legal services as well as modern manufacturing. It is also notably a young city, with a high proportion of under-35s. Yet what is still the same is the need to adapt continuously, to connect across different agendas and perspectives, and the need to engage local energy and effort in making change succeed. We are at the forefront of this, contributing to an innovative agenda throughout this region and beyond.
Today’s Lunar Society has several hundred members and includes leading practitioners from all walks of life in Birmingham and the wider region, people who are prepared to help shape the scientific, political and social agenda not just here in Birmingham and the West Midlands, but nationally and internationally.

Former Governor of the Bank of England holding a £50 note featuring historic members of the Lunar society

Members of the Lunar Society, Boulton and Watt featuring on a £50 UK Bank Note, held by former Governor of the Bank of England

A short history:

In the late eighteenth century, the meetings of a few fertile minds changed an age. The original Lunar Men gathered together for lively dinner conversations, the journey back from their Birmingham meeting place lit by the full moon.

They were led by the larger-than-life physician Erasmus Darwin <http://www.erasmusdarwin.org/>, a man of extraordinary intellectual insight with his own pioneering ideas on evolution. Others included the flamboyant entrepreneur Matthew Boulton, the brilliantly perceptive engineer James Watt whose inventions harnessed the power of steam, the radical polymath Joseph Priestley who, among his wide-ranging achievements discovered oxygen, and the innovative potter and social reformer Josiah Wedgwood. Their debates brought together philosophy, arts, science and commerce, and as well as debating and discovering, the ‘Lunarticks’ also built canals and factories, managed world-class businesses — and changed the face of Birmingham.

There is more information about the original Society on these sites:

Revolutionary Players – http://www.revolutionaryplayers.org.uk/
BBC Radio 4 In our Time – Melvyn Bragg – http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p00548z8
Soho House – http://www.birminghammuseums.org.uk/soho
Engines of our Ingenuity – http://www.uh.edu/engines/
Soho Mint – http://www.sohomint.info/
Researchers might also find useful information by visiting Birmingham City Archives https://www.birmingham.gov.uk/archives and the Centre for West Midlands History http://www.birmingham.ac.uk/research/activity/cwmh/index.aspx and West Midlands History.  https://historywm.com/

The society has produced 3 relevant heritage trails:

James Watt bicentenery flyer combining several images of Watt related places and things1 The Lunar Society Heritage Trail Leaflet  provides visitors and local residents with an introduction to the Lunar Society and 18th Century Birmingham by following in its members’ footsteps

2 This has been partly replaced by the very successful James Watt bicentenary 2019 trail due to major works developing the city centre.

3 The Lunar Society heritage trail and Guide to the 18th century Midlands

boulton watt and murdock golden statue in birmingham

Detailed Information


For specific contact and details of membership etc. visit the Lunar Society website:

Lunar Society Website

facebook logotwitter logo