Story of a tram ticket

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The Story of a Tram Ticket

In January 1932, Mr. W.E. Bustin, former Mayor of Bermondsey and the Superintendent of the Bermondsey Gospel Mission, was on a tram and noticed on the back of his ticket an advertisement for ‘Hammerton Oatmeal Stout’. As a teetotaller, he immediately sent a letter complaining about this to the London County Council (LCC) which oversaw the London Passenger Transport Board, but in March received a reply saying that the Council was ‘not prepared to alter its practice’. He wrote again to the Transport Board directly in March and, receiving another refusal to discontinue the public advertising of alcohol, immediately undertook direct action by refusing to handle tickets on tram journeys on 21st and 27th March. He bought them, then threw them away as he did not want to display an advertisement for alcohol. The Board declined to prosecute him, sending a warning letter in April, but the movement grew and by September there was a teetotal boycott of all publicly owned transport in London. This gained extra publicity as it was on the eve of the centenary celebrations of the Preston Pledge, in September 1832, and journalists picked up on the story. As the effect of the boycott might in a short time have cost the Transport Board more than the advertising revenue, the advertisements ceased to appear on tram tickets, and the teetotallers won.

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