Where were Norwich's temperance bars for alcohol free Victorians?

The Livingstone Hotel on Orford Hill was a well known temperance hotel

The Livingstone Hotel on Orford Hill was a well known temperance hotel - Credit: Flickr/mira66

If you're struggling with Dry January, have a think about what life was like in the Victorian age when alcohol addiction was so bad, dry bars and cafes were established to permanently curb drinking

Rewind 150 years and things were a little different on the streets of big cities like Norwich.

Widespread alcohol abuse in the late Victorian age, gave rise to the temperance movement which essentially was set up to persuade drinkers that there were ways they could enjoy themselves without getting tanked up.

Bars were established, often by temperance organisations, to encourage people to abstain from drinking themselves into poor health.

These dry bars, which were also known as temperance taverns, popularised soft drinks with drinkers being asked to sign a pledge of temperance which would state that they'd avoid alcoholic drinks.

It was where drinks such as Coca-Cola and Vimto first became popular in the UK and other drinks, such as sarsaparilla, a kind of root beer were sold. It also resulted in a boom in coffee shops, more than a century before the likes of Starbucks, Costa and Cafe Nero started to dominate our high streets.

Four brothers of the HOuse of Jarrolds; top left John James Jarrold 1803-1843, Samuel JARROLD 1805-1

Samuel Jarrold was treasurer of the Norwich Temperance Society - Credit: Archant

Back in the Victorian age, with not such detailed health information, switching addicts from alcohol to caffeine was seen as a very positive move.

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Historian George Kitson Clark said in his 1962 book The Making of Victorian England: 'Drunkenness caused endless trouble to the employers of labour. The results of strong drink were patent in disgusting forms at the appropriate times in most of the streets and market places of Britain. In the background, there was always present the degradation, the cruelty, particularly to the weak and defenceless, which resulted from drunkenness.'

In 1837, the year Queen Victoria ascended the throne, the new Bishop of Norwich, Dr Edward Stanley, presided over a Temperance Festival at St. Andrews Hall organised by the Norwich Society.

It was a big enough deal to make the pages of the Norfolk Chronicle, who reported on the event on September 25, 1837.

It said: 'What was termed a 'temperance festival' took place at St. Andrew’s Hall, Norwich. Upwards of one thousand persons were present, and five hundred applications for tea tickets were refused. The Lord Bishop of Norwich delivered an address. Supper followed, and everything was conducted in good order'.

One of the big players in the Norwich temperance movement was Jeremiah Colman, who had gained status and wealth through mustard and flour. He was elected Liberal mayor of Norwich in 1846, five years before his death. As a devout tea-totaler, he supported moves across the city to encourage people to turn away from alcoholic drinks.

Colman opened coffee houses in Trowse and further afield in Corton. Another famous Norwich family involved in the movement were the Jarrolds -  Samuel Jarrold was treasurer of the Norwich Temperance Society while Edward Burgess was well known as the man who ran Norwich's temperance hotel in the city centre.

Temperance cafes sprang up in greater number during Victoria's reign with drinkers guided towards coffee instead of beer.

"Coffee was hailed as a substitute for beer with the coffee house as an alternative to the public house," said writer Rob Donovan, who wrote a thesis on the subject called Drink in Victorian Norwich.

Jeremiah James Colman

Jeremiah James Colman, one of Norwich's key figures in the temperance movement - Credit: Archant

"Victorian temperance, commerce and philanthropy came together in the Café Movement which saw the opening of 53 coffee houses, which were commercial enterprises, or at least they were explicitly presented as such. But they were also visible signs of middle-class anxiety about the under-world of the public house culture of working men."

Pubs were far from the general family-friendly boozers we find today - and it wasn't just the punters that made them such places of ill repute.

A leader in the Eastern Daily Press in April 1879 had argued the pub trade was as equally to blame. It said: ‘The Café Movement is a response to the vice and crime and misery of drunkenness’ for which licensed victuallers had to accept a measure of responsibility.

The gentlemen-brewers who produced the alcohol and employed many of the publicans do not feature in this analysis, but according to many in the Temperance Movement they too played their part'.

In the EDP on January 10, 1900, Bishop of Norwich, Dr. John Sheepshanks, stressed the ‘pressing nature of the evil of
intemperance’ referring to the evidence produced by the Royal Commissioners’ Report on Licensing Laws (1899). He spoke of the ‘degradation’ that followed from drunkenness at ‘either end of the social scale’ and supported the Church of England Temperance Society in its aim to secure Sunday closing of licensed houses.

In the early part of the 20th century the movement started to wane in popularity, drinking would gradually become more socially acceptable and new laws were introduced tightening up the sale of alcohol.

Popular Norwich temperance cafes and hotels included:

The Alexandra Café in Ber Street
Victoria Cafe in St St Stephens Street.
Livingstone Hotel, Orford Hill 
St. Mary's Coffee House, Oak Street 
Winter's, Prince of Wales' Road