Leicestershire and the Temperance Movement are inextricably linked because of Thomas Cook.  Born in Melbourne, Derbyshire, Cook was brought up as a strict Baptist, apprenticed to a cabinet maker and, having joined his local Temperance Society, became a preacher.  By 1828 he was a minister, and travelled around the villages of Rutland, Northamptonshire and Lincolnshire carrying out his preaching, but lack of funds forced him to return to his woodworking and he settled in Barrowden, where he met and married farmers daughter Marianne Mason.

In 1832 they moved to Market Harborough where they became involved in the Temperance Movement.  On the 9th June 1841 Cook set out from his home to walk to a Temperance meeting in Leicester.  On his journey (thought to be whilst passing through Kibworth) he later wrote, "a thought flashed through my brain - what a glorious thing it would be if the newly developed powers of railways and locomotion could be made subservient to the promotion of Temperance".  After his proposal was warmly received at the meeting in Leicester, Cook immediately submitted his idea to the secretary of the 'Midland Railway Co.' and, on 5th July 1841, 540 temperance campaigners travelled by train from Leicester's Campbell Street Station to Loughborough.  the cost was 1 shilling (5p) per person, which included travel and food.  Over the next three summers a number of excursions for temperance societies and Sunday school children were organized, before, in 1844, a contract between Cook and the Midland Counties Railway saw him set up his business offering 'rail excursions for pleasure'.

His first trip abroard was in 1855 when he took a group from Leicester to Calais and on to the Paris Exhibition.  Within a year he started his 'Tours of Europe', and, by the 1860's was organizing tours to Egypt and to America.  In 1872, in partnership with his son John, Cook formed the travel agency 'Thomas Cook & Son'.


In Leicester, Thomas Cook was responsible for the building of the Temperance Hall (in 1853) on Granby Street.  Designed by James Medland of Gloucester, the Hall had an auditorium which seated 1800 people and a lecture room which held 350.  Next door was a building, also designed by Medland, which served as Cook's home, a tourist office and a Temperance Hotel.

The Temperance Hall changed with the times and by 1915 had become the 'Cinema De Luxe'.  By 1931 the interior had been gutted and re-fitted as the 'Prince's Cinema' which became the 'Essoldo' in the 1950's, eventually being demolished in 1961.

The Temperance Hotel building still stands (perhaps best known in latter years as Millets retail outlet), but is currently in danger of demolition.

















The 'Thomas Cook' building on Gallowtree Gate was designed by Joseph Goddard as a memorial to Cook after he died in 1892 (he is buried in Welford Road cemetary).  Opened in 1894, the building facade includes terracotta friezes showing important milestones in cook's career.

A statue of Cook, by James Butler, was unveiled in 1991 and stands outside the entrance to London Road Railway Station very close to the start of Cook's first excursion in 1841.


The other main strand in the history of Temperance in Leicester was the coffee and cocoa house movement.  It began in the 18th century as haunts of the wealthy, but with reducing taxes on tea and coffee, the habit spread down the social scale.  As Towns and Cities grew throughout the 19th century the need for lunch and refreshment outlets for the working man grew, and the coffee house became the viable alternative to the ale house. 

In Leicester, Thomas Cook's Temperance Hall had opened in 1853, but the 'Leicester Coffee and Cocoa House Company', initiated by Dr. Marriott, Canon Vaughan and edward Shipley Ellis was not formed until 1877.  The first coffee house to open, in 1877, was the 'Granby' (which later became the 'Picture House' cinema) at 5 Granby Street.  This was in an existing building, but most of the other coffee houses in Leicester were designed by Edward Burgess and purpose built.  The 'Rutland' coffee house, on the corner of Wharf Street and Humberstone Road, opened in 1883 (demolished in 1972), the 'East Gates' on the corner of Churchgate in 1885, the 'Victoria' on Granby Street in 1888 and the 'Highcross' on High Street in 1895.  The 'East Gates' coffee house replaced an earlier building named the 'Haymarket' coffee house.

Other Burgess coffee houses were the 'Albert' on Belgrave Gate, and the 'Great Northern' on Belgrave Road.

Other coffee houses, not by Burgess, were the 'Cobden' on the corner of Cobden Street and Humberstone Road (demolished 1969), the 'West Bridge', the 'St. Margaret's' in Lower Churchgate, the 'Midland' in Campbell Street, the 'Welford' on the corner of Welford Road and Marlborough Street and the 'Windsor' which was in the YMCA building.

The First World War affected trade and both the 'Albert' and the 'St. Margaret's' disappeared during the War years with the 'Windsor' going shortly afterwards.

The Company went into liquidation in 1921, but William Henry Joyce, who had been General Manager since the beginning of the century, continued to manage the 'Midland' on his own account until the 1940's.  It eventually became the railway staff canteen.




















Thomas Cook (1808-92)

Cook's Temperance Hall & Hotel (Granby Street)

Cook's Hotel (present)

Rutland Coffee House (corner of Wharf St

                & Humberstone Rd)

East Gates Coffee House (corner of Churchgate)

                     1885 / 1955 / recent

Welford Coffee House (corner of Welford Rd

                     & Marlborough St

St. Margaret's Coffee House

   (Lwr Churchgate - 1911)

Victoria Coffee House (Granby St - next to the Wellington)

Highcross Coffee House (High St)

      (now the Highcross pub)

Albert Coffee House

   (Belgrave Gate)

Great Northern Coffee House

         (Belgrave Road)

In Loughborough, the Temperance Society was formed in 1841, the year of Cook's first excursion.

A designated company was set up 1895 for the purpose of building a 'Temperance Hall', and although a foundation stone was laid, the scheme became delayed until 1899 when work began.  To a design by Albert E. King, the 'Temperance Hall', on the corner of Cattle Market and Granby Street, had a public meeting hall with seating for 500 people, a commitee room, dining room, cafe, billiard room, a ladies room (with separate accommodation) and a second class dining room.  Later, it became the 'YMCA' and then the 'Palais de Danse', before becoming, during the 1920's, 'Garton's Auction Mart'.

The building, now Grade II listed, is currently occupied by a branch of 'Betfred'.

















Mountsorrel was also prominent in the Temperance Movement in Leicestershire, being second after Loughborough to be the destination for a Thomas Cook organized train excursion for temperance supporters from Leicester.

Starting as a branch of the 'Order of Good Templars', Mountsorrel supporters held a yearly 'Temperance Sunday', but it was said that this day was always the busiest of the year in many of Mountsorrel's pubs.

The 'Temperance Hall' built on Leicester Road in 1899 was later converted into a private residence.

Loughborough Temperance Hall

Temperance Hall

(Leicester Rd, Mountsorrel)

And just to finish - although not connected with temperance in Leicestershire (or even the Uk),

I could not resist this photograph and story -


Carrie Amelia Moore (1846-1911) was born in Kentucky and grew up to become the leading American advocate of temperance.


She experienced poverty in childhood with frequent bouts of ill-health, but in 1867, aged 21, she married Charles Gloyd, a young physician, but they parted within a year because of his alcoholism.  In 1877 she married her second husband, David Nation, a lawyer and minister (note - they were divorced in 1901).


She joined the Temperance Movement in 1890 in Kansas when prohibition laws in that State were weakened.

A heavy woman almost 6 feet tall and always dressed in black, Nation was an imposing sight, and accompanied by a group of hymn-singing women, would march into saloons and bars and begin to smash the fixtures and stock with a hatchet, incidents which became known as "hatchetations".

Arrested and jailed many times, she paid her fines from lecture tour fees and sales of souvenir hatchets.


The 14 year period of prohibition in America began in 1919, eight years after her death.


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