In the 19th century, high levels of alcohol consumption and drunkenness were seen by some as a danger to society’s wellbeing, leading to poverty, child neglect, immorality and economic decline.  

Temperance societies began to be formed in the 1830s to campaign against alcohol. Sheffield established such a society in 1831. Several notable Sheffield men and women were deeply committed to temperance, for example William and Henry Ibbotson pioneered works temperance meetings, the Clegg family were influential in the British Temperance League and H. J. Wilson, a local politician spoke in favour of temperance.

Coincidentally, Sheffield’s first MP, James Silk Buckingham, elected in 1832 following the Great Reform Act, was a teetotaller. He was vice president of the British Temperance League and he initiated a House of Commons Select Committee inquiry into the drink trade.

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