History of Friends of Leeds City Museums

The Friends of Leeds City Museum was inaugurated or formed on 23 April 1971, St George’s Day. In January 1971, a meeting of this Committee received information from Friends and similar societies in Bolton, Manchester, Leicester, Scunthorpe, Bournemouth and Bristol as well as from the British Museum Society. The available minutes of the Society do not refer to the reasons for, or the stimulus behind, setting up the Society but a Steering Committee was set up, possibly in 1970, with the aim of exploring the feasibility of setting up the Friends.

Comments were made at this January meeting that the proposed work of the Friends might parallel that of the Leeds Philosophical and Literary Society, but it was made clear that the Friends would be a separate society and that the Lit and Phil would benefit from activities of the Friends.  Basil Sheldon was elected as Chairman of the Steering Committee, with James Beer as Hon Secretary and W Jameson as Hon Treasurer.  Proposed membership fees were 10s to 2 guineas for adults and 5s to £1 for ‘young people’.  It was estimated that it would cost £15-20 to set up the Society and suggested that meetings should take place at least once per month in autumn/winter, excursions being held in the summer months.  It was suggested that the Society be called ‘Friends of Leeds City and Abbey House Museums’.

The proposed the aims and activities of the Friends:

  • To support and assist the Leeds Museums and promote their use and enjoyment by the public
  • The organisation and promotion of meetings, lectures and social functions
  • Activities should not be ‘too academic’ but in a lighter vein to provide pleasure and enjoyment for all members
  • Subscriptions to be kept as low as possible 

The proposed Constitution was approved, including reference to the objectivess of the Society:

  • The advancement of education in the work of the Museums and their activities
  • To support and assist the Leeds Museums and to promote their use and enjoyment by the public
  • To support exhibitions, lectures and outdoor activities arranged by the Leeds Museums and the Society
  • To organise meetings and events for the purpose of interesting more people in the Museums
  • To assist in raising funds for the purchase and collection of specimens for the Leeds Museums


Take a look across the decades at our organisation.