In opposition to the rise in licensed premises – and indeed advocating total abstinence – the temperance movement gathered force in Manchester and nationally in the early decades of the 19th century. Manchester’s first temperance society was formed in 1830 and three years later the Commercial Coffee House – a temperance establishment – opened in Oldham Street, 300 yards from the George & Dragon. So popular did this particular establishment prove that its proprietor, Sarah Brown, was‘ able to move to larger premises at 22 Oldham Street only a year later’.18 The 19th century also saw the construction of many purpose-built temperance hotels and by 1889, the Band of Hope, a temperance organisation for working-class children, claimed to have around two million members.
Late in the 20th century:
‘The cause of temperance has almost completely vanished from view, yet for over a century, from 1830 to the outbreak of the Second World War, the control, or even the total abolition, of the liquor trade was a major political issue – one that split the country, brought thousands onto the streets in demonstrations and counter- demonstrations, and on more than one occasion significantly influenced the outcome of a general election’18
Some temperance establishments are now pubs, such as the former Temperance Billiard Hall on Manchester Road, Chorlton – now a Wetherspoon’s pub. However, it has not all been one-way traffic: evidence the proliferation of cafes and coffee shops, including those on corner sites, favoured locations for public houses.
The temperance movement may also have encouraged the re-introduction of stricter controls enforced by the 1869 Wine and Beerhouse Act. Sellers of alcohol now had to obtain licenses from the local magistrates. Following the Act, there was a sustained purge on drinking houses in Manchester, hitting particularly hard at the pubs and beerhouses that presented music– of which more later.