"Kind hearts are more than coronets."
January 14, 2016 10:16 AM   Subscribe

Peterborough & The Great War. At the Peterborough (UK) East Railway Station during 1916 and 1917, the Women’s United Total Abstinence Council ran a tea stall. There were two visitors books there signed by the soldiers travelling to and from the various fronts during World War I which have been digitised for the website.

The site had its media launch on Jan 13 2016 on the BBC, Sky News, ITV Anglia and The Guardian. Some of the inscriptions aren't translated but those that are link to the soldier's page with (sometimes) more info on the men themselves.
posted by Zack_Replica (14 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
 
I'm more interested in the Women’s United Total Abstinence Council and what their story/deal was (beyond the obvious). But there doesn't seem to be much information on them.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:36 AM on January 14, 2016


I'm more interested in the Women’s United Total Abstinence Council and what their story/deal was (beyond the obvious). But there doesn't seem to be much information on them.


It's buried a few links in, but the Peterborough site does have a summary of who they were, as an organization and as individuals.
The Women’s Total Abstinence Union was formed when the British Women’s Temperance Association (founded in 1876) split in 1893. Their goal was to focus solely on issues related to alcohol and abstinence. WUTAC was the Peterborough branch of this organisation. Alcohol abuse was considered to be a ‘great national evil’ at this time and, it was feared, would impact the outcome of the First World War if not tackled...

...When the G.E Rest Room opened on Christmas Eve 1915, the local paper (Peterborough Express, 29/12/15) described the group as an ‘enthusiastic band of ladies’. Once the room had been secured, the ladies set about organising themselves, assigning roles (listed below) and a furnishing subcommittee was set up. Local newspaper, The Peterborough Standard reported on 15 January 1916 that gifts of furniture and ‘other requisites’ had been made by Lady Mary Glyn, Mrs J.E.S Perkins, Miss Gibson, Mrs Morse, Miss Swan, Mrs Meehan, Mrs Gann, Mrs Snow, Mrs Hill, Miss Turner, Mrs Mackay, Mrs Maldram, Mrs Gillson, Mrs Dickenson, Miss Wilkinson, Miss Jarvis, Mrs J. Greeves, Mrs Bennett and Mrs J.T Davies.

The G.E Rest Room was extremely useful and appeared to have achieved its aim of encouraging servicemen to stay at the station rather than venture into town. During its first nine days of operation alone, 321 soldiers used the facility (Peterborough Standard 15/01/16).

Other than their enthusiasm and dedication to the temperance cause, we know little about many of these ladies. They are referred to only by their surnames throughout the records.
posted by cjelli at 11:07 AM on January 14, 2016 [3 favorites]


The temperance movement had a bit of a boost during WW1, since the government was also keen to curb drinking. Stricter licensing laws came into place, some breweries and pubs were nationalised, and alcohol was more heavily taxed.

Usually they would try to convince young men to make do with coffee, chocolate or tea (as in this case), but up here in northwestern England there was also a wave of "temperance bars" which would serve soft drinks like sarsaparilla, dandelion & burdock and - that great Mancunian invention - Vimto. There's still one operating in Rawtenstall, and I was talking to a lass from Leeds last year who was trying to get a new one off the ground.
posted by sobarel at 11:17 AM on January 14, 2016 [2 favorites]


Talking to a Lass from Leeds would be a great user/band name. So would Women’s United Total Abstinence Council, now that I think of it.

Also, great FPP.
posted by GenjiandProust at 11:30 AM on January 14, 2016 [2 favorites]


WUTAC Clan?
posted by sobarel at 11:46 AM on January 14, 2016 [12 favorites]


I apologize for the derail, but the title of this post reminded me I really need to re-watch Kind Hearts and Coronets. Alec Guiness is great in that.
posted by JaredSeth at 1:32 PM on January 14, 2016 [5 favorites]


A spot of tea before being shoved into the abattoir is just so England.
posted by um at 2:17 PM on January 14, 2016 [3 favorites]


a spot of tea before... i am reading rites of spring which i am sure came from a recommendation here . it is a brilliant book about the first world war, and one thing it asks is "why did people keep fighting?" - the sense of duty, of tradition, of one's place in the world drove all sides. it's fascinating.

i cannot imagine a temperance bar in leeds. but maybe it's got posher since i lived there.
posted by andrewcooke at 2:57 PM on January 14, 2016 [1 favorite]


Full of recovering alcoholics seemed to be the angle she was going for.

I really need to re-watch Kind Hearts and Coronets. Alec Guiness is great in that.

Everyone should watch it. Hardly a day goes by I don't think about Alec Guinness dressed as a suffragette falling out of a hot air balloon.
posted by sobarel at 3:23 PM on January 14, 2016 [3 favorites]


The temperance movement had a bit of a boost during WW1, since the government was also keen to curb drinking.

They certainly were
After the outbreak of World War I the Defence of the Realm Act was passed by Parliament in 1914. One section of the Act concerned the hours pubs could sell alcohol, as it was believed that alcohol consumption would interfere with the war effort. It restricted opening hours for licensed premises to luncheon (12:00 to 14:40) and supper (18:30 to 21:30).
And it lasted until the late 1980's.
posted by unliteral at 5:03 PM on January 14, 2016


Poor Ginger
The Commanding Brigadier General of the 93rd Brigade considered that Private Wilkinson was affected by gas poison owing to eating porridge cooked in water taken from a shell hole. Private Wilkinson was ignorant at the time he ate the porridge of the source of the water.
Interesting post Zack_Replica.
posted by unliteral at 5:18 PM on January 14, 2016


What a fine document. Thank you, Zack_Replica.
posted by doctornemo at 3:42 PM on January 15, 2016


And it lasted until the late 1980's.

Well, sort of. The requirement to close at some point in the afternoon was maintained until the Licencing Act 1988, but evening closing times in most areas were already 10:30 or 11:00pm by the late 80s.
posted by howfar at 12:19 PM on January 16, 2016


And, equally, I remember drinking in pubs in the 90s that would close after the lunchtime session. So some of the restrictions carried on after the 80s, even if only voluntarily.
posted by howfar at 12:21 PM on January 16, 2016


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