Two debating societies were formed in 1846 in the Birmingham area. The Edgbaston society prospered from the day it started, but the Birmingham society did not and it survived for only four years. It was replaced, almost immediately, by another society with the same name. This second Birmingham society then merged with the Edgbaston Debating Society in 1855. When the latter had been formed, one of its stated objectives was ‘to train members in the art of clear thinking and the lucid expression of thought’. It has succeeded to do that beyond expectation: 15 of its members became MPs, five of them Privy Councillors and one of them a Prime Minister. A number of members became mayors and lord mayors of Birmingham, several were to be judges, city councillors and chief magistrates. The society has been part of the fabric of Birmingham, and Birmingham has been part of it, for 160 years. It continues to prosper to this day.