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The Temperance Movement
The Ashtead branch of the C of E Temperance Society was founded in 1883 and by 1886 had 107 members with sixty four ‘abstainers’ and forty three ‘total abstainers’. Total abstainers pledged to abstain from all alcohol whilst non-abstainers pledged only to drink alcohol with regular meals and to ‘endeavour in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, both by example and effort’ to promote the Society’s aims. The junior branch, The Band of Hope, with about 100 members in 1886, was so called because ‘the hope of the movement is with the young’. The three leading principles of the movement were ‘that prevention is better than cure; that restriction rather than prohibition of the liquor traffic should be aimed at; and that persuasion was better than coercion’.

The parish magazine periodically carried a recipe for ‘stokos’, a ‘temperance drink’, as an alternative to alcohol, the recipe for which was as follows: ‘Mix ¼ lb fine oatmeal, 6oz sugar, ½ a lemon (sliced), with a little warm water; add a gallon of boiling water; stir well and use when cold’. Recipes for other ‘temperance drinks’ were also given, including lemonade made with 2 lbs of lump sugar dissolved in boiling water, 2 oz of citric acid and 2 sliced lemons (or a teaspoonful of essence of lemon). Such drinks were, as the editor was at pains to point out, much better than alcohol for those working in the open air in hot weather which ‘easily flies to the head when exposed to the hot rays of the sun, and may bring on intoxication or even a more serious sunstroke’.

In an attempt to provide working class men with an alternative social venue to the pub a Working Men’s Club was established in the mid-1880s. In May 1889 the parish magazine noted that the Club was finally fully open. It had two rooms, each 20 foot square, equipped with two bagatelle boards and tables for cards, chess and other games, together with a supply of daily papers and periodicals. There was also a smaller room for the use of a caretaker, from whom members could buy mineral water and other soft drinks. The editor urged parishioners to join ‘this comfortable club, where every facility for amusement and social intercourse can be obtained for the modest subscription of 8d a month’.