Temperance Organisations

Most people came to teetotalism through organisations such as the Rechabites or the Band of Hope, which produced publicity material, held meetings, and supported members in many ways. Belonging to such groups would have given a sense of community and identity.

About & Credits

Launched in August 2012 the exhibition is part of a partnership project between UCLan and the People's History Museum. In addition to the virtual exhibition there was a major changing exhibition at the People's History Museum, Manchester running from 30 June 2012 - 24 February 2013 and a pop up exhibition at St George's Shopping Centre Preston from 24 August - 8 September 2012.

A variety of related events and activities accompany these exhibitions - see what's on.

The 'temperance and the working class' project is directed by Dr. Annemarie McAllister and funded under the 'Your heritage' programme of The Heritage Lottery Fund.

Children & temperance

Some children did drink, but the main reason to enlist children as teetotallers was preventative; if they were convinced of the dangers of alcohol, they would grow up to avoid it. And they could be enlisted to spread the message to adults, too.

The Demon

Gin had been seen as causing public disorder from the 1700s, and the Beer Act in 1830 aimed to encourage 'healthy' beer consumption. Drunkenness immediately swept the country when beer was both plentiful and cheaper than bread. Temperance propaganda illustrates the horrors to which Demon Drink - including beer - was seen to lead.

Entertainments & Activities

Excursions, processions, tea parties, choir and instrumental concerts, competitions, games, festivals and bazaars were all part of being in the temperance movement, making friends, and sharing your commitment in public. There were opportunities to become a Temperance Queen, play in a temperance football or cricket team, travel nationally and internationally, or join a brass band.

Spreading the message

Persuasion to avoid drink usually took one of four main approaches, although they were sometimes combined. The moral argument saw people as demeaning themselves by being enslaved to drink, and often drew on Christian or Biblical principles. The economic argument relied on pointing out the material benefits to be gained by not wasting money on drink. The health argument used increasing scientific knowledge to show by means of statistics, experiments and illustrations how bad alcohol was for the body. Especially in times of war, the national argument stressed the waste, both social and economic, of individual indulgence which destroyed potentially good citizens.

Picturing Temperance

Joseph Livesey talked of two gates into people's minds - Eyegate and Eargate - to emphasise how important the visual should be to the temperance movement. Emblems provided complex symbolism for members of groups, who were taught to decode them, and simpler badges or medals also have messages to reveal, as well as being an honour to wear.