The wagons of the temperance movement are on the roll again, more than a century after hundreds of thousands of people across Britain queued to sign pledges of abstinence from alcohol.
In its quest to change the habits of the nation's youth, the revived British National Temperance League has set no limit on its ambition. In one of the most unlikely recruitment campaigns of modern times, it has detailed the joys of a drug-free lifestyle to the naturally sceptical audience of students. And if that task was not stiff enough, cigarettes are also on the list of banned substances.
The league said at the weekend that it had written to every school in Britain to warn children of the potential dangers of drinking. Barbara Briggs, the league's administration director, said 80 young people had recently signed up to an organisation that was "quite literally dying off" two years ago. Ms Briggs said: "A lot of our new members are under 30 and some are under 20. We have young people with families and some students who have adopted a drug-free lifestyle."
In the past two months 25,000 copies of its education pack have been sent to schools. The campaigning organisation held a conference at the weekend at Aston University in Birmingham to promote its aims.
A Preston weaver, Joseph Liversey, set up the temperance movement in 1832, when gin palaces and beer houses flourished. By the end of the century, up to a tenth of the population was estimated to abstain from alcohol. New members of the league are no longer required to sign a formal pledge but are still expected to make a commitment to abstinence.
Natalia Gazur, 16, joined the temperance movement after doing work experience at the league's Sheffield offices. "I don't think I will drink. I'm not really bothered about it. When I do go out with my friends I will stick to water," she said.Reuse content