Sunday, 15 June 2014

Loughborough and the Temperance Movement

Loughborough and the Temperance Movement

Yet again, I find myself being influenced by something I recently read on Facebook! This time the topic was temperance, and the original Facebook post was enquiring about the temperance hotel in Nanpantan. I did a bit of research and discovered a few things, but more of that next time!

The topic of this post is the Temperance movement in Loughborough town centre. From previous research I’ve done, I was aware of the Temperance café in Loughborough town centre, and sometimes include it in one of my walks, so this seems like a good time to share some of my findings with you. As usual, this is a piece of uncompleted research – I’ve got so far, but run out of time!

The Temperance movement was a social movement, which, at the very least, strongly urged people to drink alcohol in moderation. At its most vehement, the movement was extremely critical of  excessive alcohol consumption, and even promoted complete abstinence. It also used its political influence to pressure the government to enact new alcohol laws to regulate the availability of alcohol or even to completely prohibit it. Loughborough was part of that Temperance movement and had had a Temperance Society since at least 1841 and meetings were reported in the local newspapers as being attended by numerous, respectable people. Outdoor meetings were also held.

It may not therefore surprise you to learn that on Wednesday 24th May 1893 there was a Temperance demonstration in Island House Park grounds. Island House was in Granby Street, where the 1960s extension to the public library is, and in 1893, Queen’s Park did not exist, only being created in 1897 to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria, so what is now Queen’s Park was the gardens of Island House. The newspaper report in the “Leicester Chronicle and Leicestershire Mercury” of Saturday May 27, 1893, (page 3, issue 4294), which paints a wonderful picture of the whole event, is worth quoting here in full:

“On Wednesday a great temperance demonstration was held in the Island House Park, Loughborough. Soon after one o-clock the members of the various Bands of Hope in connection with the Free Churches of the worn assembled at their respective Sunday schools, from whence they proceeded in marching order to the Market Place, carrying aloft their banners and bannerettes, on which were various mottoes and devices. The spectacle in the Market Place was certainly a very imposing one, and was witnessed by crowds of people. Selections of music, sacred and secular, were played by the Nottingham Sax-tuba Band, conducted by Mr Hindley, after which the Bands of Hope processioned through the main thoroughfare of the town. The procession, which was headed by the Sax-tuba Band, was of great length, and was followed by multitudes of holiday-keepers, many of whom had come from Leicester, Nottingham, Coalville and other surrounding towns, to the Island House grounds. Twp large tents were erected on the grounds, in which the visitors were provided with refreshments. There were the usual outdoor games, and at six o’clock a gymnastic display was given by Sergt. Allen of Leicester. At seven o’clock a public meeting was held in the park. Mr H. Clemerson presided, and amongst his supporters on the platform and around the stand were Councillor Vorley (Leicester), Mr J. T. Nowell (U.K.A.), Rev. J. C. Nesbitt (Leicester), Mrs Phillips, Revs. W. S. Spender, C. Taylor, R. Brewin, R. J. Clifton, A.C. Haycock, T. Anderson, H.F. Francis, F. Co, Mrs Walker, Mrs Edmunds, Mrs Simpson, Mrs Cross, Miss Clarke, Miss Young, Councillor W. Morris, Messrs. J. Peer, J. Adcock, J. Walker, Belton, W.T. Tucker, J. J. Yates, J. Main, R. Viccars, G. Barker, C. Argyle, H. Beeby, T. Levers, W. Topping, S. Caldwell, A. Richards, H.F. Young, Cross, Lacey and others.

The proceedings opened with the singing of temperance hymn, after which The Chairman, in the course of a brief address, congratulated the meeting on the splendid gathering they had seen that day. He felt that the progress of the temperance cause was due to the Bands of Hope, and if they were spared to hold a similar demonstration next year he hoped they would come together in even larger numbers.

Mr J. T. Nowell, the agent of the United Kingdom alliance moved: That this meeting records its warmest thanks to her Majesty’s Government for their patriotic action in introducing into the House of Commons the Liquor Traffic Local Control Bill, a measure deeply affecting the well-being of the country, and calculated, if it passed into law, to secure a great diminution of the evils resulting from intemperance; and this meeting urges the Government to put forth its full power to ensure the passing of this measure into law. That the chairman sign a petition in its favour, to be forwarded for presentation to the House of Commons.

Mrs Phillips seconded the motion in and able address.

Rev. C.J. Nesbitt supported, and said there was the greatest possible reason why the temperance party should now bestir themselves. When the publicans were getting up so large a fund to oppose the Bill it showed that they were staggering [Applause]. Speaking of the drinking habits of the people, the rev. gentleman said they were simply the result of following the fashion. He urged his hearers to be leaders instead of followers of fashion. They could help the temperance cause by all abstaining themselves.

Councillor Vorley supported the resolution, and contended that the people had a perfect right to say whether they would have public houses amongst them or not, The Government Bill simply gave the voters power by a two-thirds majority to veto the renewal of licences, and was therefore a very moderate and reasonable measure. [Applause]. He called upon the people of Loughborough to help the temperance party to strike a blow at the liquor traffic from which it would never recover. [Applause].

The resolution was carried unanimously.

Rev. H. F. Walker moved, and Rev. W. T. Spencer seconded, a vote of thanks to the speakers and the chairman, which having been adopted, the proceedings terminated. Dancing afterwards took place, and was kept up until dusk.” 
The Temperance movement became so important in Loughborough that a dedicated building was proposed, and a company was formed in 1895 for the purpose of creating the meeting place. Fund-raising activities took place and eventually, in 1899, the Mayor of Sheffield laid the foundation stone of the new Temperance Hall. But that’s a story for another day …


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