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Title: Drink in Victorian Norwich
Author: Donovan, Rob.
ISNI:       0000 0001 3429 2070
Awarding Body: University of East Anglia
Current Institution: University of East Anglia
Date of Award: 2003
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This thesis maintains that Victorian social cohesion depended to a significant degree on drink. In Norwich and other urban centres, population growth led to an expansion of the supply of alcoholic drink. Inadequate sanitation and water supply problems meant that beer answered a dietary need for a liquid that was safe to drink. Alcohol provided depressant comfort in the face of poverty and squalor for the working class. In these circumstances, most social and political functions were connected with the public house. Most public houses in Norwich experienced sufficiently long periods of publican stability to have played an important role in the development of working-class communities. At a time of acute housing problems, the public house provided both a public space and relief from squalor. In Norwich and elsewhere, the urban elite used working-class dependence on drink to their own political advantage at election time through bribery, treating, and the control of organised gangs of `roughs'. These traditional practices were eventually proscribed by the government at Westminster but proved difficult to eradicate in Norwich. There was little overt interference with the infrastructure of drinking in Norwich. Although Norwich had the highest density of drinking places to population in England, the city could boast the lowest rate of drunkenness. This infrastructure was effective not least because brewers were key members of the urban elite and were influential in the Watch Committee that controlled the policing of the city. However, the Temperance Movement developed as a consequence of the challenge to traditional Christian ethics presented by the consumption of drink in this new urban context. By 1901, Norwich was becoming a more sober, compassionate and just society, but this was not due to the victory of Temperance but rather to a shift in the `structure of feeling' that placed more emphasis on social responsibility.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available