Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Earlston's Temperance March, 1908

In the vintage photograph below,  the Pipe Band leads a procession along Earlston High Street in 1908 to mark the "Semi-Jubilee" of the local Temperance Society.   

The Scottish Temperance Movement was founded by John Dunlop of Glasgow. concerned at the high level of consumption of spirits. He established an anti-drinks society in 1829.  For Dunlop a vital first step was education and social improvement.  

A more radical approach was adopted by William Collins, a publisher and evangelist,  who favoured total abstinence.   By 1831, the Scottish Temperance Movement numbered 44,000.   Local abstinence societies. often linked to religious denominations,  were formed and many of these offered classes and concerts as alternative entertainments. National groups also began to be established, with branches opening in many areas of Scotland, with the Band of Hope targeting  children to "Take the Pledge".  

By the close of the 19th century, the temperance movement was strong with Victorian morality  linking   drunkenness with ill-health, poverty and misery - an image often portrayed in Temperance literature. 

The movement's cause to cut excessive drinking  found favour in parliament with the passing of  the  1853 Licensing (Scotland) Act.  This prohibited Sunday drinking, except by bona fide travellers who were allowed to buy alcohol.  Of course some locals seized the opportunity in this loophole, by travelling  to neighbouring towns and villages to buy a drink.   

Temperance activity in Scotland peaked with the passing of the The Temperance (Scotland)  Act 1913  which gave voters in small local areas the right to hold a vote on whether their area should be "Wet" or "Dry".  

The First World War, however, meant that more pressing matters were the focus of the country and the Temperance Movement went into gradual decline, though abstinence pledges were still being signed in the 1940's.

Do you have any recollections of the Temperance Movement in Earlston.  
Did your parents or grandparents sign the pledge?  
Do share your memories by writing in the Comments Box below.


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