|The Wellingborough News, 14th January 1887, transcribed by Jim Hollis
Sunday Closing Meeting at Rushden
A public meeting was held in the New Hall on Tuesday evening last, to hear addresses from Messrs. Edward Whitwell, of Kendal (hon. sec.) and Geo. Orman, of Derby, travelling secretary to the Central Association for the Closing of Public Houses on Sunday. The Rev. Cannon Barker, M.A., rector of the parish, presided, and was supported by the deputation, the Rev. W. J. Tomkins and Mr. John Jacques, Rushden; Rev. G. O. Parr, Finedon; and Mr. Owen Parker, Higham Ferrers.
The Chairman, in opening the proceedings, said the object of the meeting was to reconnoitre the strongholds of intemperance, that they might organise and attack, and bring the battering-ram of the law to bear upon the State invitations to Sunday tippling. They must not, however, aim so much at closing the public-houses by force as by cultivating the intelligence of the people respecting the liquor traffic.
“Stop a man’s grog against his will
He’d be the same old tippler still.”
If they looked at the laws respecting Sunday closing, they would find that they were originally framed as a hindrance to Sunday drinking, and to promote morality; and if they found the working of the law was diametrically opposed to the principle for which they were formed, they must appeal to the legislature to step in and make an alteration. (Applause.)
Rev. W. J. Tomkins then moved the following resolution:- “That this meeting considers that the sale of intoxicating liquors on the Lord’s Day unfair and injurious, and ought not be sanctioned by the law of the country, and that this meeting demands for England the same prohibition of the traffic in intoxicating liquors during the whole of the Lord’s Day, as in other parts of the United Kingdom and many of the colonies has been attended with most beneficial results, and that a petition to Parliament to this effect be adopted and signed by the Chairman.” In moving the resolution, he said that, although not well versed in the subject, he had in the past taken some little trouble to get petitions signed, although this was the first time he had publicly advocated Sunday closing on the platform. They were not there to discuss the broad question of temperance, but as a temperance worker and a Christian minister he earnestly desired to see the public-houses closed on the Lord’s Day. The Sunday sale of strong drink was a special temptation to the working classes, the majority of whom had declared in favour of closing. He did not want to “rob the poor man of his beer” he wished to prevent the beer from robbing the poor man. Many publicans would be glad of the Sunday rest, and were on their side. The closing of the houses would tend to diminish drunkenness, pauperism, and crime, and the arrests for drunkenness on the Lord’s Day would be fewer. If a man is really compelled to travel on Sunday, and requires refreshment, he ought to have it, but the country’s foot must be put down upon the “mock travellers” and the drinking clubs.
Mr. John Jacques briefly seconded the resolution, and said that if the subject was total abstinence, there might be different opinions respecting it, but as regards Sunday closing their opinion should be unanimous. As regards travellers, no class of men travelled more on the Lord’s Day than local preachers, some of whom walked six, seven, and eight miles to preach; they conducted two or three services without the aid of drink either before they started or on the way, and they could whistle when they got home.
Mr. Edward Whitwell supported the resolution, and said the object of his address was to convince them of the need of closing public-houses on Sundays, and to rouse them to earnest work. Since their association had been formed in 1866, they had made some progress, although they had not advanced as rapidly as they could have desired. For eight years Sunday closing had been in force in the Sister Isle, and in England the hours had been shortened from eight and a half hours to six. The closing of public-houses on Sunday was the right thing to do, since it was fitted to make the Sabbath a happier and more blessed day. It might not be easy to do this right, but it was safe, and if England would but rise to her sense of duty in this matter, she would find it all gain and no loss. The publican was as much entitled to his day of rest as the working man, and so were the 200,000 barmaids. The horses of the London Road Car Company were in better condition, and do their work as well again because of the Sunday’s rest, and the publicans, too, would find it all gain and no loss. Sunday opening was a kind of bridge to carry Saturday’s debauch over from Saturday to Monday, and they must break it down. The brewers, too, would find it all gain and no loss. The lecturer then combated some of the various arguments brought in favour of Sunday opening, and having tested the meeting upon their willingness to close on the Lord’s Day, closed his address by presenting statistics showing that the sale of spirits in the United Kingdom had increased since 1852 by one half.
The Rev. G. O. Parr (Finedon) then formally moved: “That the Chairman be requested to sign, on behalf of the meeting, a memorial in favour of Sunday closing, and to forward the same to the Prime Minister, the Home Secretary, and to the members for the division.”
Mr. O. Parker (Higham Ferrers) briefly seconded this, facetiously remarking on the dignity imparted to the resolution by his connection with the little civic borough.
Mr. George Orman then added a few words in support of what his colleague had advanced, and both resolutions having been carried unanimously, Mr. Whitwell proposed, and Mr. Tomkins seconded, a vote of thanks to the Chairman, which was heartily accorded. Mr. T. Wilmott proposed, and Mr. T. Burton seconded, a similar compliment to the other speakers, and the proceedings terminated.