Venue Hire

Radical Temperance: Social change and drink, from teetotalism to dry January

University of Central Lancashire, Preston, 28-29 June 2018



We are delighted to acknowledge the support of the Alcohol and Drugs History Society and Alcohol Research, UK for this conference.


Call for papers

Submission details

Proposals for 20-minute papers, panels, roundtables and posters, or stalls and displays, should be submitted to by March 4th 2018.

We are open to varied ways of presenting, publicising and sharing your ideas, so if in doubt, please use the contact email above or

Subsidised places

We appreciate that funding is tight if you come from the third sector, including support groups and individuals, so each day we hope to offer some subsidised places.

Featuring Keynote addresses by:

  • Professor Scott Martin, Bowling Green University, Ohio
  • Professor Betsy Thom, Middlesex University

This conference seeks to explore the radical aspects of the avoidance of alcohol. We are looking for contributions from a range of perspectives, places and periods and from both academic and non-academic contributors.

Of the many anti-drink movements across the world, one of the most influential, teetotalism, started in Preston in 1832. We are proud to honour this history by holding the first international conference on temperance in Preston to consider it across the centuries to the present day. Alcohol management remains a key social issue; the many active support groups, dry bars, and third sector organisations in our society take varying stances on alcohol and temperance.

We invite academics, students, professional and voluntary workers with a focus on control of or abstinence from alcohol to join us. We aim for a wide range of angles from the field of support for alcohol issues, and groups or individuals with an interest in how societies approach alcohol, from around the world – please come and present, listen, publicise, share ideas and strategies, discuss, and learn…


There will be academic panels, roundtables and poster presentations, but also more informal discussions, stalls, and displays presenting work by third sector organisations. Meals and entertainments, including a walking tour, exhibition and live temperance magic lantern show, will have ‘wet’ or ‘dry’ options.

We encourage you to think creatively within and around the suggested topic areas and to identify new directions. We hope that during these two days of the past encountering the present we will all make some radical discoveries…

Suggested topics:

  • Temperance and labour movements
  • Gender and drink/temperance
  • International perspectives and influences
  • Social improvement and temperance
  • Contemporary and historical images
  • Historical perspectives and contemporary debates
  • Alcohol as a political issue
  • Policy making and alcohol pressure groups
  • Narratives of recovery
  • Social/cultural attitudes to alcohol
  • Literature and alcohol
  • Anti-temperance

  • We aim to bring together academics and professionals with an interest in alcohol use to exchange knowledge and create a constructive forum in which to discuss anti-drink societies and measures from the nineteenth century to the present day.
  • Alcohol and the way we use it, individually and as a society, is a hotter topic now than it has been for over fifty years. Print, broadcast and social media brim with discussion, debate and declaration about the rights and wrongs of drinking or not-drinking. Cool alternative drinks and meeting-places such as dry bars, coffee shops and late-night ice-cream parlours have made abstention a radical choice.  History has seen this before: Rowntree and Sherwell, social researchers, estimated that in 1900 that well over a tenth of the adult population had signed the pledge not to drink, a figure which has been thought of as a zenith mark of temperance – and yet in 2018 we have over double that percentage of total abstainers in Britain (21%). Yet alcohol misuse is remains the biggest risk factor for death, ill-health and disability among 15-49 year-olds in the UK, and the fifth biggest risk factor across all ages. Alcohol harms are estimated to cost the NHS around £3.5 billion annually making this a financially and socially urgent issue.
  • Preston was the birthplace in the UK of total abstinence and saw the coinage of the term ‘Teetotalism’.  The town was internationally famous as ‘the Jerusalem of Temperance’ from the 1830s to the 1930s. The town’s continued significance to temperance history was assured by the donation of the archive of the British Temperance League to the Preston-based University of Central Lancashire in 1987. Since then this Livesey Collection has been further enriched by many donations from temperance groups and individuals. UCLan and its academics have honoured this responsibility by ensuring public access to these collections through a series of exhibitions, public events and accessible publications drawing on the many treasures held in the Livesey archive.
  • We feel that it is time to bring these elements together in a conference designed to develop a dialogue between perspectives from past and present  so that we can learn from each other. Through presentations, discussions, displays, and social events, we hope to enable researchers and third sector workers to engage, fruitfully.

The programme will be posted in late-Spring, once proposals have been received and accepted. The conference will run from Thursday morning, 9-9.30 until Friday, 4pm, approximately.

  • Professor Scott Martin, Bowling Green University, Ohio
  • Professor Betsy Thom, Middlesex University

  • As magic lantern displays were a great feature of temperance meetings, and indeed the temperance movement was one of the main producers and consumers of magic lantern slides, we are offering you a rare chance to experience a live magic lantern temperance entertainment supported by some temperance songs. Our lanternist will be Andrew Gill, a renowned expert and performer whose work can be seen at
  • There will be a drinks reception, offering ‘wet’ and ‘dry’ bars, at which delegates can try a wide variety of the latest non-alcoholic drinks or simply enjoy a glass of wine.
  • We will offer a walking tour of Preston (it is a compact city), guided or self-guided, to view historic sites associated with temperance and other social history movements. If there is enough interest, an alternative walking tour exploring the many historic pub sites in Preston may also be offered.

You can walk to the Harris Building, the main conference venue, from the train station in 10 minutes, but you may also want to stay in Preston. There are many hotels in and around Preston, and those shown here are all in the town centre, in order of distance from the Harris Building:


Please refer to our 'How to find us' page for further information about travelling to the University

Preston has been a significant market town for centuries, although it was only formally designated a city in 2002. First settled in the 7th century, it became a regional centre, being the stage for battles of national importance in the Civil War and the first Jacobite rebellion. Its Guild celebration, held in many such towns in the middle ages, is the only one which has taken place every twenty years since 1179. (A temperance exhibition was one of the features of the most recent Preston Guild, in 2012.) Preston became an industrial centre in the early nineteenth century, and was known for its radicalism, electing Henry Hunt as MP in 1830. As a centre of working-class conflict, it was visited by Charles Dickens and Marx, and it became famous for the 1842 Lune Street Riot, part of the Preston Strike. The mayor gave orders to fire and four workers were killed and many more injured. As well as political radicalism, Preston became known in temperance circles as the home of Joseph Livesey and the radical teetotal movement.

There are many historic buildings in Preston, and the three main roads preserve their medieval names and routes – Fishergate, Friargate and Church Street. Here you will find many restaurants, pubs, cafes, a wide variety of shops, and individual quirky destinations, such as ‘The Mystery Tea House’ or the two very different second-hand bookshops, each run by a brother, under the name of Halewoods, at 37 and 68, Friargate. Preston Market is one of the great surviving Northern markets, now rehoused, in which you can explore amongst the stalls and find almost anything you might need or want. Some shops and pubs survive from medieval times, but most public buildings date from the 19th or 20th centuries, including the Harris Museum and Art Gallery (1893) where we plan to hold at least one of the conference events, and the Harris Building of the university (1897), where most of the conference will take place. You might wish to wander around and find where Benjamin Franklin lodged with his daughter in 1775, or the inn where Dickens stayed when researching Hard Times. All the places mentioned are between 10-20 minutes’ walk from the train station and hotels. For those staying in Preston for longer, the Lake District and Manchester are within easy reach, by train, and offer chances to experience different aspects of north-west history, culture, and landscape.

The Livesey Collection is an unrivalled resource for the study of temperance and alcohol-related topics, as well as containing material on other social amelioration topics and radical journals, such as Black Dwarf. As well as many thousands of textbooks, non-fiction studies, and novels, and extensive runs of almost all the temperance journals, several for over 50 years, it contains rare early printed and manuscript material. Thousands of photographs, pledge cards, and other printed ephemera are joined by material items such as badges and medals, china, sashes, collars and bannerettes to give a superb insight into temperance cultural history. Over 1,000 magic lantern slides, posters, and other visual aids illustrate the propaganda techniques used with such success by various temperance groups, and many of these images have proved popular on social media today.

A selection of these items will be available for viewing during the conference in the Special Collections room in the Library, and there will be time made available in the programme for such visits. The Collection is currently undergoing re-cataloguing as a preliminary to digitisation, but it will be possible to view the existing catalogue and request material in advance, so that the three days in the week before the conference, or in the week following, can be spent consulting your chosen items. For help with this and further advice on what the collection contains, please contact