The Temperance Hall and The Hall of Science

  • 15 Jan 2012
  • Worcester People and Places
  • Back
At the corner of Providence Street and Temperance Street stood the Temperance Hall, a large building of two -colour brick, dating from the 1860s. It was remarkable for the text made from letters of couloured brick 2ft. high or over, which ran around the external walls, between the ground and first floor. It read: 'The Blessing of God Keep Us and Protect Us From All Intoxicating Drinks'. It was destroyed in 1900 when Williamson's Tinplate factory was extended.

The 1860s and 70s were the peak days of the Temperance movement. At first the poor were encouraged to drink ale so as to ween them away from gin, but later beer was included. Temperance Hotels were set up to fight alcoholism and one was opened in Lowesmoor in 1884.

A hall of Science stood nearby in 1840s, opened by the English Socialists. Noake reported: 'The Socialists some years ago pitched their tent in this district, but have now abandoned their 'Hall of Science', which is converted into a school room'. The Church viewed the Socialists with great disfavour. A member of St.Paul's Church wrote 'but, with the exception of the immoral tendencies of their Halls of Science, balls, and midnight orgies, they do not seem to occasion much annoyance to the inhabitants...... They and their companions in recklessness may be seen on a sabbath morning, with no coats on, smoking pipes in the open street, or at their own doors, while the decent and God-fearing population around them are quietly wending their way to Church.

The hall's of Science were the educational spearhead of the Socialist movement in the 1840s. It was especially strong in the North of England, but not so Worcester. G.J.Holyoake, a lecturer of the movement was himself employed at the Worcester Hall of Science in the Blockhouse district at a salary of 16 shillingsa week, and writes rather disparagingly of the efforts of the Worcester socialists:

English socialists expected to improve society by showing the superior reasonableness of the changed they sought. A small branch of these propagandists existed in Worcester.An enthusiastic carpenter had enlarged and fitted up an oblong workshop as a lecture room, some sympathisers who never appeared in the hall furnished means of purchasing materials. These humble lecture rooms were called ' Halls of Science', not that we had much science - merely a preference for it.

It would appear that by 1855 the Socialists no longer occupied the building, for the Worcester Herald of 27.10.1855, reported: 'Morman lecture' at the Hall of Science, Blockhouse, by 'Elder Evans' on the subject of polygamy. The hall was crowded. A great disturbance took place and the police sent for. The proprietor has since refused to lend it again for such disgusting purposes'.