Monthly Archives: March 2015

Hot Topics March 2015

We welcomed 89 members, 4 new members (1 dual) and 1 guest.

Our main event was a talk by Sarah Warren on the history of gin entitled “Drunk for 1 penny, Dead drunk for tuppence. Straw for nothing!!” – a familiar sign above gin shops and on the streets of London at the time. The “Gin Craze” saw it available to buy in ordinary shops, gin shops, from street sellers and people’s houses. In 1743, 2.2 gallons of gin were consumed per person annually. Those keen to see gin drinking curbed presented images of women being dragged down by gin (Mother’s Ruin) – their children neglected or murdered, gin given to babies to quieten them. Hogarth’s famous print, Gin Lane, reflected the evils of gin consumption, including poverty, infanticide, starvation, madness, decay and suicide. Concerns about the upsurge in gin drinking, particularly amongst the poorer classes, led to various Gin Acts being introduced during 1729-1751. Henry Fielding (author of Tom Jones) also campaigned against the “perpetual drunkenness of the Londoners”. Sarah’s talk ended with an interesting comment that life has not changed much in terms of portraying women being brought down by drink. In 2008 some media binge drinking stories were illustrated with photos of drunken young women in the street.