How it all began

Liverpool Mathematical Society (1899) and Mathematical Education on Merseyside (1976)

The Liverpool Mathematical Society (LivMS) was founded in 1899, principally as a meeting place for grammar school teachers of Maths and University Staff. In the mid 1970’s, James Taylor came to the University of Liverpool as Professor of Pure Mathematics. He had recently been Chairman of the Joint Mathematical Council (JMC) and felt that there was need for greater contact between the University and teachers of Mathematics in local Secondary Schools.

He sent round a MEMO inviting all Heads of Maths in Merseyside schools and colleagues in other Higher Education establishments to a meeting at the University. That was the beginning of what became quickly known as Mathematical Education on Merseyside (MEM). This was designed to be independent of the University and to complement the LivMS rather than to replace it. For many years MEM has enjoyed Charity status. The first MEM Challenge take-home competition for 12/13-year-olds was circulated to schools in May 1978. The format has proven successful, and continues largely unchanged to the present day. The cartoonist, Peter Ackerley, illustrated every paper for 38 years from 1978 until 2016. His logo for MEM of a planet orbiting a cube bearing the letters M E M inspired the title of the termly newsletter – the MEM Orbiter, which continues to be circulated to almost all schools within Merseyside, Cheshire, the nearer parts of Lancashire, most of North Wales and the Isle of Man, as well as to many schools much further afield. If you or your school would like to be added to the circulation list, at no charge, just click the link. From 2016 onwards illustrations have been provided by Theo Chaddock and Will Ashworth.

The national Popmaths Roadshow travelled the country in 1989/90, visiting around 20 venues, the first of which was the University of Leeds in September 1989. The Liverpool show, in May 1990, was hosted by both the Liverpool Cathedrals. The main activities were sited in the Lutyens Crypt of the Metropolitan Cathedral, complemented by a glorious selection of John Robinson’s abstract sculptures in the nave of the Anglican Cathedral.

A local add-on was a competition for children involving solving at least 10 out of around 50 puzzles set out on trestle tables around a maze. This was put together by staff from what is now Liverpool Hope University, and has expanded and developed over the years since then to become the LivMS FunMaths Roadshow.