MOST communities of any size in the Helensburgh area, except Luss and Cardross, boasted at least one temperance hotel — and they formed a highly visible and important part of the wider Temperance Movement.
They aimed to provide people with the various amenities of a standard hotel, except the alcohol.
As such, in addition to providing meals and accommodation, they were also frequently used as a venue for weddings, meetings, club activities, and other events.
Local historian and Helensburgh Heritage Trust director Alistair McIntyre has investigated the hotels which catered for followers of the movement.
“Although the day of the temperance hotel is long gone, there is often a tangible legacy, whether through the buildings which housed them, or by way of place-names,” he says.
The first temperance hotel in Britain was opened in 1833 by Joseph Livesey, a key figure in the Temperance Movement. In Scotland, the first to be opened was on Princes Street, Edinburgh, in 1848 by Robert Cranston, a prominent Chartist.
The Waverley Hotel, as it was called, was carefully sited close to the newly opened railway line, and it survives as a now-licensed hotel to this day.
The best-known member of the Cranston family was Kate Cranston, whose fame springs from her Glasgow tearooms, yet another scheme designed to wean people away from the temptations of alcohol.
In Helensburgh, the Railway Temperance Hotel (right) on East Princes Street was, like Cranston's hotel, obviously aimed at those using the 1858 railway, connecting Helensburgh to Glasgow and beyond.
It seems likely the hotel came into being not long after 1858, and it was certainly in operation by the time the first Helensburgh directory was published in 1864.
It was often referred to by the name of the hotelier. Thus, in the 1860s and 1870', it was also known as Sharp's Temperance Hotel, the then proprietress being Mrs Jane Sharp.
A photograph exists showing the hotel at the time when Mrs Bewley was manageress, from around 1910 until 1922, and her husband John Bewley (seen in front of the hotel) was the ticket collector at Helensburgh Station.
The hotel was located on the upper floors of a tenement building opposite the Station, and the “Railway Temperance Hotel” sign prominently displayed there strikes a somewhat defiant note, as both shops on the ground floor below are wine and spirit merchants!
The hotel was a distinctive part of the town scene for many years, and it was the longest running temperance hotel in the whole district.
Latterly under the management of the Moore family, it was still in business by the late 1960s, when it also offered bed and breakfast. By the early 1970s, however, it had closed its doors.
There is still a tangible reminder of its presence — the keen-eyed can make out the word “Temperance” on the decayed sign across from Helensburgh Central Station — and one of the shops below is still a wine and spirits merchant!
There was another Railway Hotel at 20-22 Craigendoran Avenue, which was well placed to capture trade generated by Craigendoran Station and Piers. This does not seem to have advertised itself as a temperance hotel, but it may well have fallen into that category.
The Station Hotel made its appearance just after the turn of the 20th century, when it was being run by the Misses Smith. By 1905, a Miss Reynolds was in charge, and it was often referred to as Reynold's Hotel.
By 1911, a Miss Law was hotelier, and the hotel was being called the Lomond Hotel. Still under that name, the proprietress by the end of World War One was Mrs Catherine Gillies, and she was still running the business by the close of the 1920s. However, by the 1930s, this hotel had given way to private residences.
Another temperance hotel in the town was the Eagle Temperance Hotel (left) at Blythswood Terrace, 88 West Clyde Street. It was opened around 1900, and the hotelier was a Miss Deans.
With a central location, convenient for those coming by land or sea, and commanding an extensive view across the Clyde estuary, the hotel might have been expected to blossom. Despite this, and a very visible sign outside, it was no longer in operation by 1905.
Another temperance hotel was Gatenby's Temperance Hotel, located at 4 West Clyde Street. It appears to have made its appearance in the early 1870s.
An advert in the 1878 Guide to Helensburgh describes it: “Gatenby's First Class Temperance Hotel: facing the Pier, it is two minutes walk from the railway station.”
However, as with its counterpart at Blythswood Terrace, it too closed down before long, the last entry in local directories being 1882.
Why did two of those hotels close within such a short space of time? One obvious possibility is that trade for such enterprises in Helensburgh may simply have been insufficient, even though they came into being at a time when the Temperance Movement was at its height. The number of fully licensed hotels in the town was never excessive, the longest running being the Queen's and the Imperial.
The Rosneath Peninsula was famously a virtually “dry” locality, though not as a result of Government legislation, and it boasted several temperance hotels. However, it had not always been almost drink-free.
When the young Robert Story, a native of Yetholm, near Kelso, came to Rosneath in 1815 as assistant to the Rev. Dr Drummond, the parish minister, he was horrified at the drunkenness and dissipation that abounded.
Dr Drummond had been a committed minister, but by 1815 he was in his declining years. Story was ordained as parish minister in 1818, and he lost no time in addressing the culture of drinking that prevailed.
After his death in 1859, he was succeeded as parish minister by his son, the Rev Robert Herbert Story, who adopted a similar approach.
Several sources — including Robert Story — attribute much of the reduction in drinking to the stance taken by the Dukes of Argyll, who owned much of the Peninsula, but it seems likely that it was Robert Story and his son who did most.
One measure of their success was the reduction in outlets retailing whisky. In Dr Drummond's time, there had been plenty, but by the time Robert Story died, there was only one, Rosneath Ferry Inn, which remained licensed throughout the period.
Auchmar Temperance Hotel, also known as Clynder Temperance Hotel, opened its doors around 1865. The name Auchmar came from a cottage which stood on the site from 1832, owned by Mrs Jean Buchanan, the widow of Andrew Buchanan, who styled himself “of Auchmar”, a small estate near Drymen.
The first hotelier was George Dodds, who was the brother of the parish schoolmaster, John Dodds. The location and timing of the new hotel seemed highly favourable as it was close to Clynder Pier which opened in 1866.
The following year George Dodds tried to obtain a full licence for his new enterprise, but it was refused despite several attempts. In 1869 he was granted a licence by 11 votes to 8, but on appeal this decision was revoked.
Around 1870 George Dodds relinquished his business, the new proprietor being James Spalding. He also tried to obtain a licence, but he was refused after a campaign against the granting of a licence led by the Rev Robert Herbert Story.
By the turn of the 20th century the hotel was being run by Mrs Agnes Whyte or McLean, who also made repeated attempts to gain a licence, but was knocked back on each occasion. Appeals were made, but these were also rejected.
From about 1906 until 1911, the hotel does not seem to have functioned, though householders were living on the premises.
In 1912 the hotel did gain a new tenant, Thomas Glass, a warehouseman from Lochwinnoch. He immediately applied for a licence, but this was turned down. So it was that the hotel retained its temperance status until 1920 when Glass was granted a licence.
As a licensed hotel, Auchmar continued to function until 1986 when it was completely gutted by fire, a fate which overtook a number of other hotels in the area around this period.
The site lay as a shell for quite some time, but eventually the rubble was cleared, and houses built on the site.
A private Clynder Temperance Hotel was run from Crossowen House around 1904, the proprietress being Miss Duncan, but it was not in business for long.
On the other side of the Rosneath Peninsula, Kilcreggan hosted the Argyle Temperance Hotel (left) for some years. It was in a prime location, almost opposite Kilcreggan Pier.
As with the Railway Temperance Hotel in Helensburgh, it was located on the upper floors of a tenement building, with shops on the ground floor.
The Argyle was in operation by 1862, and the census of 1871 reveals that the hotelier was Matthew King (39), married, with a wife and child, who had a general servant.
In 1881 the hotel buildings were purchased for £1,450 by William Frame, who ran a grocery in the adjacent Argyle Buildings.
Frame's grocery, as with Currie's grocery and bakery at Cove, had been licensed as far back as the early 1860s, though restricted to the sale of ales and porter. The hotel, however, continued as before but with quite a turnover of managers.
At the turn of the 20th century the hotel was no longer being advertised in the media, and this continued until the early 1920s when Miss Eliza Geddes was hostess.
Around 1928 she was succeeded by John McDiarmid, who ran the hotel for several years. By 1933 he was no longer running the hotel, though he remained as a resident and the hotel ceased to function.
It left a tangible reminder of its presence by way of the nearby Temperance Brae, and given its severe steepness, anyone using it would be strongly advised to be strictly sober!
The story of temperance hotels on the Peninsula is one of very mixed fortunes, although the hotel trade as a whole has always had its ups and downs.
Auchmar Temperance Hotel was not alone in seeking to overturn its temperance status and it is a fact of life that many hotels depend fairly heavily on the sale of alcohol to help keep themselves afloat, so a temperance hotel was always going to have to find extra revenue to remain viable.
Arrochar and Tarbet have had their share of temperance hotels. Ross's Temperance Hotel opened to the public in the early 1870s, under the proprietorship of Alexander Ross.
The site was well chosen, not far from the junction of two main roads, and within a short walk of Arrochar Pier.
Unlike many of the temperance hotels in the area, Ross's Hotel remained in the hands of the same family for many years and as they owned the building.
After the death of her husband, Mrs Ross continued running the business until around the start of the First World War, when she was succeeded by John Forrest Ross.
In 1924 he applied for a licence, but he was refused. However, when he applied again the following year, he was successful, and the hotel thereafter ran as a licensed hotel, being managed in time by the Misses Ross.
In 1961 the hotel was taken over by John Galbraith, who already owned the nearby Arrochar Hotel, and his acquisition was renamed the Loch Long Hotel and thrives to this day.
A twist to the story is that an earlier hotel in Arrochar had that same name, and it too had started out as a temperance hotel.
Teighness, or Tyness, Temperance Hotel (left) goes back to around 1906, when Campbell Henderson founded the hotel beside the main road leading south from Arrochar.
It was often referred to as Henderson's Temperance Hotel. In 1930 an application was made for a licence. Objections were raised, and the licence was initially refused, but later granted.
At some stage, probably in the late 1930s, when the hotel was under different management, it changed its name to the Loch Long Hotel, and it was under that name that a terrible fire raged through the premises in September 1955 and four people lost their lives. That marked the end of the hotel.
Garelochhead also had a temperance hotel.
In 1905, McPherson's Temperance Hotel (right) launched at Woodlea, beside the main Garelochside road near the south end of the village and almost opposite Garelochhead Pier. By 1907 the name had changed to McNeil's Temperance Hotel.
At this hotel on March 10 1907 Hector McNeil was born to Margaret McNeil, wife of Donald McNeil, a journeyman joiner from the island of Barra. Young Hector eventually became a long-serving MP for Greenock, and he rose to become Secretary of State for Scotland from 1950-51.
The McNeils did not put down roots in Garelochhead, and their very brief stay in the village is something of an enigma.
Woodlea was owned by the McPhun family, but the hotel was registered in the name of Margaret McNeil. However she and her family moved to Glasgow not long after the birth of their son.
The tenancy of the hotel then fell to Alexander Crerar. Known variously as Crerar's Temperance Hotel and Woodlea Temperance Hotel and Boarding House, there was a period of stability under his management until 1930.
One notable development during his tenancy was the setting up of a branch of the National Bank of Scotland on the premises in 1922.
By the early 1930s the tenancy had passed to the Misses Margaret and Charlotte McPherson. The sisters ran the temperance hotel for many years, in time becoming owners as well as managers.
One blow must have been the closure of Garelochhead Pier in 1939 but the hotel was still functioning into the 1950s. It was described as empty by 1960 and became private dwellngs. Woodlea Hotel can claim to be one of the longest running among local temperance hotels. No attempt was ever made to acquire a licence.
There are no local examples of hotels going from licensed hotel to temperance hotel status, but there is one example of a licensed premises defaulting to unlicensed.
Whistlefield Inn had a long pedigree, having its origins in a humble drystone and thatched building serving to accommodate cattle drovers. By the later 19th century it had been rebuilt as an imposing structure, but it gained a reputation for scenes of drunken behaviour.
With the death in 1920 of Mrs Munro, the proprietress of 50 years, the opportunity was been taken to call time on the possible resurgence of unruly behaviour.
When new proprietor John McDougall applied for a licence in 1920 the application was turned down, and also fell on appeal, this also fell. That same year, the Helensburgh and Gareloch Times reported that drunkenness in the area had abated considerably.
In 1923 a fresh application for a licence was made in the name of Leonard Charles Prefect, but this too was rejected. According to the newspaper, a successful campaign against renewal of licence was headed by the Rev Walter Ireland, United Free Church minister at Garelochhead.
It is not known if Whistlefield Inn functioned in temperance mode, but the building quickly became private accommodation as it is now.
Temperance hotels, as with the wider Temperance Movement as a whole, may have been relegated to the pages of history, but alcohol abuse is still a major issue in the society of today.