Fitzpatrick's Temperance Bar, Rawtenstall

Fitzpatrick's Temperance Bar, Rawtenstall

Fitzpatrick's Temperance Bar in Rawtenstall, Lancashire is the oldest original temperance bar in Britain. When it opened in 1890, temperance bars were ten a penny. There was no tax on alcohol, so every hour was happy hour. Alcoholism was rife, and in 1832, Joseph Livesey, a cheese-maker from Preston decided to take matters into his own hands - the Temperance Movement was born. Initially, steering clear of spirits was enough to get you membership but after a while "taking the pledge" came to mean no alcohol whatsoever. In fact, the word teetotal is said to come from one member, who spoke with a stammer and said that nothing would do except "tee-tee-total abstinence".

In the early twentieth century, temperance bars became the focal point of many communities with locals gathering for a quick sarsparilla as the Band of Hope children sang uplifting songs. The Fitzpatrick family were renowned herbalists and ran a chain of temperance bars throughout Lancashire. Malachi Fitzpatrick, the last in the family line ran the Rawtenstall bar for over fifty years and lived until he was ninety, putting his long and healthy life down to the tonic and potions he brewed in the shop.

Fitzpatrick's now has new owners, who have given the place a sympathetic refit. Visitors can continue to enjoy their award-winning home made cordials like sarsaparilla, blood tonic (a lot nicer than it sounds) and dandelion and burdock. The original bar is a tremendous looking thing, almost organ-like with mysterious stops for Cream Soda and “Wino” among others. The shelves are full of jars with strange sounding ingredients like comfrey and borage, and for the less adventurous there are traditional sweets (lot of Uncle Joe's Mint Balls) and remedies.

The place is littered with vintage bits and pieces like Reckitts Crown Blue soap and Asepso antiseptic soap. Some familiar brands like Vimto (invented in Manchester as Vim Tonic) and Eno's had their roots in these sort of places. In the supermarket they have a job competing against new, shiny competitors but here they're in a fusty, yet very pleasant world of their own. Herbalists have had to weather the storm of fashion over the years, shunned as the domain of cranks, so it's heartwarming to find Fitzpatrick’s in such rude health.

Fitzpatrick's Temperance Bar photos

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How to get there

Fitzpatrick's is at 5 Bank Street, Rawtenstall, Rossendale, BB4 - the end of the street where it curves back onto Bury Road near Asda. Parking on the main street is by disk but there is free parking in Asda across the road.

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