s I Promise to Abstain - Hull Museums Collections

I Promise to Abstain

Detail from Band of Hope medal

During the late Victorian period there was an increased influence of 'Temperance' groups and societies that advocated abstinence from alcohol. It was from the 1870's that demand for 'aerated water' and other soft drinks become more popular in Hull because of this trend. Several organisations in Hull were involved in promoting abstinence, including The Band of Hope and The Sons of Temperance.

The Band of Hope

Formed in 1874 the 'Band of Hope' was a Methodist movement which educated young people about the 'evils of drink'. Children could join from the age of six and they attended lectures and other activities including competitions and all members took a pledge of abstinence.

The organisation held several demonstrations in Hull. A booklet produced in 1883 for a demonstration at Hengler's Circus contains musical scores and words for songs to be sung. The movement felt that it was better to educate a child about the dangers of drink rather than try to convert an adult drinker.

The Band of Hope in Hull had an estimated 10,000 young members. When they joined each new member was asked to pledge 'I Promise to Abstain From All Intoxicating Drinks As A Beverage'. The pledge was also inscribed on a medal that also featured an image of a praying woman with the wording 'Wine Is A Mocker'.

The Sons of Temperance and The 'Good Templars'

The Sons of Temperance also had a large number of members in Hull. The organisation advocated total abstinence from alcohol as they believed that dependence on alcohol was the cause of many of society's problems including poverty, ill-health and violence.

The 'Good Templars' held their first meeting in Hull in 1874. Taking their name from the medieval religious order of knights, The Knights Templar, who guarded the holy sites in Jerusalem. The 'Good Templars' sought to lead a crusade against the corruption of alcohol.

Individual churches and chapels in Hull also formed their own temperance groups. The groups continued to influence people's outlooks and lifestyles until well into the twentieth century. Their causes were supported by some of Hull's key figures such as T.R. Ferens and Frederick Needler, who were both staunch Methodists. They presented certificates to people for giving lectures and writing essays about the effects of alcohol.

'Hull People's Public House Company'

In order to cater for people who were teetotal and to provide an alternative to public houses in the city, the 'Hull People's Public House Company' was formed. This company had nineteen 'temperance' hotels and two cafes and they advertised themselves as being 'Viands of the Best Quality at Moderate Prices'. They sought to appeal to people who might otherwise use public houses and fall prey to alcohol.
Mytongate looking west to Mytongate Bridge
The 'Wilberforce Cafe' on St. John Street (now Carr Lane) features on a drawing from around 1890 by F.S. Smith. Printed adverts for the company show that they sold tea, coffee and cocoa for a penny per cup and 'aerated waters' for one penny per bottle. The company was highly successful and profitable as receipts from the company amounted to 25,000 pounds per year. The company also built two factories to make its own brand of aerated water in Pearson Street and Marlborough Terrace.

The company also had crockery made for its premises that had the company name printed on it. Some examples of this have been found beneath floorboards of the site that was their company house on Lowgate.