An Eastington Diamond Wedding and the Band of Hope

The subject of this article is the gentleman in the photograph below. It was taken in 1911 at the celebration of the diamond wedding (60th) of the venerable Nathaniel and Mary Partridge – “much respected inhabitants of Eastington”

. The photo comes from an article in the Stroud Journal of the time, that reported what took place – it sounds like it was quite an event.
The article described the day’s activities at some length, commenting that the couple were joined by a crowd of between 30 and 40 that included their children, grandchildren and various family friends . Apparently the couple received “many hearty congratulations and handsome presents”.

Remarkably, at nearly 80 years of age, Mr Patridge was still hard at work. In his youth, he had been apprenticed to Eastington bootmaker William Burford. At the time of the celebration, he was still active in the same trade. However, this wasn’t the only string to his bow as he had also been the school librarian for no less than 40 years. Nathaniel and his wife Mary were both staunch supporters of the Wesleyan Church, where both had been class leaders.

Their involvement with the church leads us on to the second part of this article – the ‘Band of Hope’.

From the middle of the 19th century, many churches and other organisations became increasingly concerned about the effects of excessive drinking, particularly by members of what were perceived as the working class. There was growing involvement with the Temperance Movement, the result being the creation of what became known as the Band of Hope. The Band of Hope organisation was founded in Leeds in 1847 and was, in essence, a temperance organisation for working class children up to the age of 16. The idea for such an organisation was first proposed by the wonderfully-named Reverend Jabez Tunnicliff, who was a Baptist minister in Leeds, following the death in June 1847 of a young man whose life had been cut short by alcohol.

Members enrolled from the age of six and all took a pledge of total abstinence.


The Eastington Band of Hope picnic, probably around 1910. Nathaniel Partridge is left of centre- same hat?!

This was an era often marred by excessive drinking amongst adults. Life in general was made even harder by poor living conditions and health, and the fact that alcohol was freely available, including to youngsters.

Usually, meetings were held weekly, the organisation acting almost like a childrens’ club. Understandably, youngsters were given lectures on the pitfalls of the demon drink, but also talks and lectures of a more general nature. The programmes of ‘entertainment’ were often quite varied and could include things such as hymn and song writing, and magic lantern slide shows. The highlight was often an annual competition to select a pageant queen. Depending on the location, members of local Temperance Societies sometimes organised outings for the children, often by rail or to the nearest coastal resorts.

The Band of Hope movement was remarkably successful for some years. In 1887 it had about one and a half million members – at the time, there were around 8 million youngsters of a suitable age in Britain, so that was a significant percentage. By 1891, membership had risen to 2 million and in 1897, it was over 3 million. In that year, Queen Victoria became the Movement’s patron. Bands of Hope were set up in most towns and villages, and Eastington was no exception. The Temperance Society already has a strong foothold here, encouraged and supported for many years by the local mill-owning family, the Hoopers – see below
And what became of the Band of Hope? Changes in society and attitudes saw interest gradually wane, and by the 1950s the Temperance Movement in general fell away. The Band of Hope, however, was transformed into the exisiting London-based charity Hope UK. In essence, it continues the work started by Jabez Tunnicliff to educate children and young people about drug and alcohol abuse.
The likes of Nathaniel Partridge and other local people provide a direct link back to the early days of the movement and to this interesting (but largely forgotten) period in our history.

Steve Mills