Will you follow the king’s example? This was a question put to the citizens of Derby in April 1915 by the local Temperance Society. The Society lobbied local people trying to persuade them to abstain from alcohol for the period of the war. This was given a boost on April 1915 when the king publicly declared that “no wines, spirits, or beer will be consumed in His Majesty’s houses”.
Other public figures, such as Lord Kitchener, and members of the cabinet agreed to do the same. Derby Temperance Society printed two versions of its pledge, the usual total abstinence pledge, and the “Patriotic Pledge” binding only for the duration of the war.
Temperance was a social movement against the consumption of alcoholic drinks. Initially the movement focussed on moderation but a stricter form, teetotalism, emerged in the UK in the 1830s promoting complete abstinence from alcohol.
The movement gained credibility due to rising social problems in towns and cities attributed to alcohol consumption. On 3 June 1852, Lawrence Heyworth Esq. MP laid the foundation stone of The Temperance Hall, the movement’s new social centre on Curzon Street, Derby. Concerts, lectures, auction sales and meetings were held there. The building is now used by Derby City Church.
In 1914 Derby still had a very active Temperance Society with influential supporters including several councillors, aldermen, JPs, ministers of religion and Mr W J Piper, the editor of the Derby Daily Telegraph.
The temperance movement would have much welcomed David Lloyd George’s well-known statement in March 1915, “We are fighting Germany, Austria and drink, and as far as I can see, the greatest of these three deadly foes is drink.” It used the war as an opportunity to encourage people to sign the pledge and promote the licensing and brewing restrictions passed in August 1914 by the government as part of DORA (see DWWIPP-2). Equally quickly, Derby Licensed Victuallers Association complained of “the aggravating intolerance of the Temperance Party.” The breweries were unhappy too! (see DWWIPP-4)
In August 1914, Derby Temperance Society presented soldiers of the Sherwood Foresters with a practical gift of writing materials for use wherever they were stationed. The folder also contained a photograph of the Temperance Hall and a copy of the temperance pledge in the hope that some of them would sign it before going off to war.
Derby Temperance Society produced a monthly magazine, Temperance Bells, reporting on temperance and alcohol-related issues locally, nationally and internationally. Although, temperance societies have now faded into history, abstinence has in recent years become an increasing trend, driven, not to curb the worst excesses of “the demon drink”, but in the expectation of personal health benefits.
Lloyd George was Chancellor of the Exchequer at the beginning of the war, but later Minister of Munitions, Secretary of State for War, and finally Prime Minister.
Derby City Church is part of the Elim Pentecostal Church. It is open on Sundays at 10.15 am to worship God, more details can be obtained at http://derbycitychurch.co.uk/home
This Wonder is one of a series of thirteen researched by the Derby World War One Pubs Project (DWWIPP). In describing the wonders, we also develop an underlying narrative on how the war lastingly affected pubs and the brewing industry, and society itself. For this reason, it may be preferable to read them in sequence, DWWIPP-1 to DWWIPP-13.
The thirteen wonders in this series and other stories featuring the effects of WWI on pubs and breweries can be found in a special Armistice Centenary Edition of Derby CAMRA’s magazine, Derby Drinker. It, and the current edition, can be downloaded free of charge at https://derby.camra.org.uk/derby-drinker/DerbyDrinker/DerbyDrinker_WW1special.pdf You can also download an ‘Ale Trail’ leaflet featuring the thirteen Wonders in this series from https://derby.camra.org.uk/index.html
The DWWIPP team are grateful for the support and encouragement of many organizations and individuals, in particular to the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), and all National Lottery players, for the funding; the Derby Branch CAMRA (The Campaign for Real Ale); the Derby Local Studies and Family History Library; and the Buxton Museum and Art Gallery (Wonders of the Peak).
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