Newcastle Hoppings in Jesmond Dene 1914
Newcastle Temperance Festival
The First Newcastle Hoppings
This week we see ‘The Hoppings’ return to Newcastle’s Town Moor. This annual event began in 1882 as a temperance festival developed by local temperance associations. The temperance movement advocating abstinence from alcohol was popular in working class communities in the 19th century. Local associations were often but not always linked to religious organisations of different denominations. Members of the public were encouraged to take ‘the pledge’ and were issued with often elaborately decorated cards setting out the temperance ideals. These cards were signed by the pledgee to indicate their good intentions. One of the beliefs of the temperance movement was that shows, merry go rounds and similar activities could provide a distraction to the masses therefore keeping them away for the lure of alcohol.
Town Moor Hoppings
The Town Moor Hoppings wasn’t the first fair to be held in Newcastle – a regular fair had previously been held at Gallowgate. In 1881 the horse racing that had been a regular feature on the Town Moor since 1721 removed to Gosforth Park. This coincided with the revival of an annual temperance festival in Newcastle. It had originally been mooted to hold festivals in three different parts of the city during Race Week. The date was not coincidental – the Festival was perceived a counter-balance to the often alcohol induced public behaviour associated with horseracing. In March 1882 a letter in a local newspaper put forward the suggestion of holding a single festival on the Town Moor.
The First Hoppings
The first ‘Hoppings’ opened at 2pm on Wednesday 28 June. The opening was preceded by a programme of temperance sermons in places of worship across Newcastle and resulted in large numbers taking the pledge. The first festival took place over two days and comprised amusements and roundabouts, children’s games, a kite flying contest, military shows and displays, sporting activities – cricket and football. On the first day of the Festival a tea was provided for 1000 of the poorest children of the city.
The Best Attended Temperance Festival In England
The event was extremely popular. It was estimated that around 150,000 people attended making it the best attended Temperance festival held in England. The cost of running the Festival was in the region of £500. Such was the success of the Festival that it was decided to make it an annual event. The Hoppings has continued to be held on the Town Moor almost every year since. Between 1914-1918 it was held in Jesmond.
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