Some Proprietors of Note – Traill & Booth

Extract from ‘The History of The Athenaeum – 1797-1997’.

Thomas S Traill – 1781-1862
President 1823-25

Physician, professor and editor of the ‘Encyclopaedia Britannic’. A Scotsman, he graduated in medicine at Edinburgh University in 1802. He practiced medicine successfully in Liverpool for nearly thirty years, until 1832 when he returned to Edinburgh to become Professor of Medical Jurisprudence.

During his time in Liverpool he played a prominent part in intellectual activities. He lectured frequently at the Royal Institution and was one of the founders of the Liverpool Literary and Philosophical Society.

After returning to Edinburgh, Traill edited the eighth edition of the ‘Encyclopaedia Britannica’, which was published in that city, enhancing its reputation as the major encyclopaedia in the English Language. A most conscientious man, he was reputed never to have missed a lecture during his thirty years as a professor.

Henry Booth – 1789-1869
President 1861-62

Railway pioneer, manager and inventor. Henry Booth is famous for his promotion of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway, the first mainline railway in the world.

Born in Liverpool of Unitarian parents, he was educated at Rev William Shepherd’s school at Gateacre. After first working in his father’s business as a corn merchant, he started up on his own. Always interested in scientific discoveries, he became part-owner of the first steamship to carry passengers from Liverpool to North Wales.

In 1824 he joined the committee promoting the Liverpool and Manchester Railway and was energetic in obtaining parliamentary approval. When this was achieved, he became Secretary and Treasurer to the Directors, in effect the Chief Executive. He collaborated with George Stephenson, the company’s engineer, in pressing for locomotive steam engines as the source of power and designed the multi-tubular boiler which was incorporated into the Rocket.

He became General Manager of the railway and later Secretary of the Northern Section of the London and North Western Railway. He was a great advocate of the industrial and commercial importance of the railway system. Always interested in political and social problems, he was the uncle of Charles Booth.

His statue at St George’s Hall shows him with one of his inventions, a coupling for railway carriages.