The end of the year marks a time of reflection where we might make some New Year’s Resolutions. For me, that usually involves the decision to drink a little less alcohol and so a trip to Britain’s Last Original Temperance Bar seemed appropriate. So I drove over there with my Dad, pictured, and my sister to sample the delights of Fitzpatrick’s Temperance Bar which has been open since 1899. My Dad grew up in Burnley and remembers going to one of their branches to drink their herbal concoctions.The temperance movement started, and continued to blossom, in the textile districts of Yorkshire and Lancashire in the distant days of the 19th century, and later swept across the whole of Britain, with the aim of combating alcoholism. Before this, though there were diatribes published against drunkenness and excess, total abstinence from alcohol was very rarely advocated or practised.
It was in fact alcohol that was one of the greatest problems facing Victorian Britain, due to untaxed, cheap ale and gins that was driving the population (usually the working classes) into drunkenness!It was a Methodist cheese-maker in Preston, Lancashire, who set about establishing a society under which a pledge was taken, never to drink alcohol. The society quickly grew and expanded beyond churches and became part of the everyday life for the sober British. The temperance bar became the social outlet of the society where they would sing songs about the ‘demon drink’ and enjoy sarsaparilla and ginger beer, in joyful fashion. By the 1880’s, temperance bars graced every high street in the north of England, the most prominent of course being Mr Fitzpatrick’s.Sadly, fifty years after the movement began, enthusiasm faded for the temperance movement on this side of the Atlantic, following the end of prohibition in the United States… you’d think with the delicious ladies below on your side that we’d all be teetotal by now. The falling interest, along with a wave of imported, sugary drinks like Coca Cola hitting our shores, resulted in the steep decline of the number of temperance bars. Only one Mr Fitzpatrick’s bar survived; the former ‘one too many’ public house (as it was known then) in the Lancashire town of Rawtenstall.We tried almost everything on the menu! With drinks at £1.50 each it’s affordable and they’re tastier than your average cordial. Have you tried Sarsaparilla before? It’s not altogether common but in my humble opinion it is the KING of soft drinks. There are herbs and spices available to cure all ails, many of which are included in the drinks, and no hangover! Although some of them are a little sugary they are incredibly tasty and I got a few bottles to take away with me.. I opted for 2 bottles of Sarsaparilla and a bottle of the Rhubarb and Rosehip cordial. You can view their full range here.My sister and I heard about the bar from The Hairy Bikers… here they are to tell you more.
Location: 5 Bank Street, Rawtenstall, Rossendale BB4 6QS
No Entry Fee – If you’re looking to make some extra cash you could even sell their drinks at your local Farmer’s Market!