Band of Hope

In mid-19th century Britain, excessive drinking in both adults and children was a major social problem, and in response to this issue the idea of a temperance society was formed. A temperance group named the Band of Hope was founded in Leeds. It was directed towards working class children under the age of 16 who were abused and maltreated often due to the effects of alcohol use within the family.

From the age of six, members were required to take a pledge of total abstinence. ‘I, the undersigned, do agree that I will not use intoxicating liquors as a beverage’.

“I shall always be of my best behaviour,
Shall give of my best service,
And God helping me,
I will refrain from all alcoholic drink. Amen.”

The Band of Hope preached Christianity and instilled high moral values to assist children in becoming valuable members of society. The group produced books, created and operated children’s clubs, ran fund raising activities, competitions and pageants. Weekly meetings which included lectures and activities were an escape from the poverty and tedium of working class children. In 1887 it had approximately 1½ million members.

The photograph below taken in Manchester shows the diversity of age, sex and race within the Band of Hope.

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