As a member of
the Preston Society for 35 years, Stephen said that he came
across the name of Moses Holden when researching into Preston’s
‘Learned Societies’. Holden was one of the prime movers of
Preston’s Mechanics’ Institute, which aim was the ‘diffusion of
useful knowledge’. Holden was also an instigator of the
temperance movement, although not an abstainer from alcohol
Stephen’s research into Holden’s life and achievements led him
to state not only should his name be better known but deserves a
blue plaque in the town.
The son of a
hand loom weaver he was born in Bolton in 1777. At age 5, the
family moved to Preston. He was a keen learner and was inspired
by tales of Jeremiah Horrocks who witnessed the transit of
Venus. During his formative years he taught himself astronomy
and mathematics and during his life he purchased many books.
He was a member of the Methodist church and was a good orator.
Although not an ordained minister he did an 18 month evangelical
tour of the Fylde. This consisted of a fortnightly cycle of
visits preaching in many villages around the area. He had a
lifelong involvement with Sunday schools, bible groups and an
association with Christ Church, Preston.
With his interest in astronomy and science in general he was
involved at the outset in Preston’s Mechanics’ Institute. He
made telescopes and microscopes and was able to grind his own
lenses. He also made an orrery, a mechanised clockwork
instrument that demonstrated the relative positions and
movements of planets and moons. He made the clock for Christ
Church, Preston, which now resides in a room in County Hall,
Being a promoter of the ‘diffusion of useful knowledge’ Holden
did lecture tours. Particularly, triennial lectures at Theatre
Royal, Preston. These consisted of 3 lectures every 3 year
years. A fourth lecture was given to the working man with an
admission cost of 6d.
Between 1815 and 1828 he toured northern towns with his lecture
tours, taking his orrery with him. He also wrote a celestial
handbook and almanac. He received testimonials from well
connected friends and associates, which helped further promote
Holden was a keen correspondent with newspapers writing many
articles on scientific subjects, all in the name of the
‘diffusion of useful knowledge’.
Stephen’s interesting talk through light on the life of a man
who achieved much and left many wondering why there is no blue
plaque in the name of Moses Holden.
(1777 - 1864)