Total abstainers: Teetotalism in Henley before the First World War

Tue, 5 Apr 2022

About the lecture:

Michael will explore the paradox of a flourishing teetotal movement in Victorian Henley with its strong and lively commitment to spiritous liquor. 
  • How did the teetotallers take control? 
  • What part did they play in the life of the Victorian town? 
  • What was their relationship with the town’s social structure and politics? 
  • What resistance did they meet within the town and more widely? 
  • And why did the total abstention movement die away more or less completely by the time of the First World War? 
One of the main questions is whether the total abstention movement was really all about drink in any case, or had a wider social meaning?
Picture from:  From David Whitehead’s Henley on Thames: A  History, p.73

Michael Redley, our newly elected Chair, lives in Norman Avenue in Henley. His doctoral work in history was on East Africa in colonial times. He made a career in central government and in statutory agencies concerned with broadcasting and at the University of Oxford. More recently he has returned to his roots in history.  He has published on various topics and teaches courses at the Department for Continuing Education in Oxford on twentieth-century British history and politics.