From the 1880s, through to the early years of the 20th century, ECN’s forebear – the ‘Eastington Parish Magazine’ – was distributed monthly throughout the parish. It appears to have been produced by the local Temperance Association, as each issue carried a prominent report of what the organisation had been doing in the previous month. It contained many articles describing day-to-day activities in and around the village but also included regular warnings about the dangers of the demon drink!
The Temperance Association was strongly promoted in Eastington by some of the wealthier and more powerful residents. Amongst these were the Hoopers, the family that ran the village’s cloth mills from the 1830s through to the 1880s.
Both Charles Hooper and his son Charles Henry Hooper played dominant roles in the parish. Their cloth-making business was the main local employer and both adopted a fairly paternalistic attitude towards their workers. They promoted various measures to look after their workers’ educational, physical and spiritual needs, but were particularly concerned about the effects of beer shops, often just converted cottages, dotted throughout the parish, that sold both beer and spirits.
In the 1830s Eastington had no less than 23 beer shops and two pubs – by the 1890s the number of pubs had risen to nine!
The Hoopers are probably best remembered for the Temperance hall that formerly stood in Alkerton, and the drinking-fountain combined with a signpost set up in the centre of the village to mark Queen Victoria’s Jubilee of 1897. Local tradition suggests that this was intended to deflect custom from the King’s Head!