Address of Welcome

Rainford, Thos C. (1932) Address of Welcome. [Image]

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At the national centenary celebration of the temperance movement in 1932, this address was widely reproduced and given to those visiting from other parts of the country. Preston’s importance to the movement is outlined with particular reference to Joseph Livesey’s influence in the early years.

The National Centenary Celebration of the Temperance Movement 1832-1932

Address of welcome to the pilgrims, given by The Right Worshipful Thomas Clarkson Rainford, Mayor, on behalf of the people of Preston, Public Hall, Thursday 20th October 1932.

My Lord, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Preston is proud and honoured to welcome this day the representatives of a great Social movement who are assembled to discuss and decide how best to continue the work inaugurated by the world famous Seven Men of Preston, and their great leader, Joseph Livesey, a hundred years ago.

In her long and chequered, but not inglorious day, Preston has produced many sons whose names are enrolled in letters of gold in the peaceful records of our land. Men like Sir Richard Arkwright, the great inventor of the Spinning Jenny; statesmen like Lord Derby the 14th Earl, and Viscount Cross of Red Scar, Francis Thompson the Poet, J.A. Hansom, the architect of St Walburge’s and creator of the hansom cab; Samuel Peploe, the militant parson of Preston who dared to read the prayer for his King in the presence of the Pretender and his soldiers; Nicholas Grimshaw eight times Mayor of Preston, twice Guild Mayor, and pioneer of the Volunteer movement in this town; Edmund Robert Harris, (who bequeathed £300,000 to Preston for educational and philanthropic purposes), and a host of philanthropists, patriots, physicians, lawyers, teachers, writers and great-hearted citizens whose names are not forgotten and whose deeds we have inherited.

The past century has seen tremendous changes in every aspect of life, but no change so great as the transformation of the social life of our people. In every phase of that change for over seventy years of his long life Joseph Livesey devoted his untiring and indomitable energy to uplift the life of the people. “Friend of the Poor” describes Livesey and his work from youth to ripe old age. Brought up in dire poverty himself, he strove all his life to lessen that handicap for others.

A damp cellar in a £5 a year house at Walton-le-Dale was Joseph Livesey’s university for seven years, the breast beam of his hand loom was his reading desk, himself his only tutor and the New Testament his first book. For three years of his orphaned boyhood before he began weaving he was the bobbin-winder and housekeeper for his grandfather and uncle, whose handlooms stood in the same cellar. It was there Joseph Livesey, toiling every daylight hour acquired that love of learning, that study originality of outlook and independence of thought, that habit of persevering labour and endurance and those principles of frugality, thrift and unswerving integrity that fitted him for the tasks that have made his name famous.

Writing in the closing days of his long life (he died in his 91st year) – he says “I never regretted that poverty was my early lot. I learned to feel for the poor and to cultivate my own energies as the only means of self advancement. If the need arose I could still live on sixpence a day and earn it.”

From his early youth, barely 17, he began to teach others all he knew, and to the end he was a keen student, eager for fresh knowledge and still more eager to pass it on. Deeply and sincerely religious all his days, yet never a bigot or sectarian.

By sheer hard work he became a prosperous tradesman and might have built a big fortune for himself but for his life long habit of using money as a tool for greater efforts for others. The key-note of his whole life was to make life easier for the poor. Despising politics for the dirty game it undoubtedly was in those days, he became a politician to make politics cleaner and sweeter. Personal service was the secret of his success in all he undertook, coupled with ungrudging admiration of the sincere efforts of others for the public good. He won the hearty co-operation of men in every walk of life and even of his bitterest opponents by the sincerity and honesty of his aims.

He became a total abstainer for the sake of others but to the end of his days insisted that England would never become sober by legislation, but only by moral suasion and conviction. A century has gone by since Joseph Livesey signed the pledge in the old Cock-pit. For fifty three years of that century his hand held aloft the torch of total abstinence that won adherents in every civilised nation under the sun.

Livesey himself never laid claim to greater honour than being one of the Seven Men who signed, but history acclaims him as the leader of a movement that has unquestionably influenced the growth and tone of modern civilization.

We in Preston remember with pride Livesey’s love for the old town. We like to think of him as a typical Prestonian, always striving to push Preston to the front and well ahead in all that made for good government, yet content to work to achieve his ends, rather than to lead.

His was a gospel of hard work, clean living, sobriety, economy, self-reliance, cheerfulness and sociability.

Impetuous and dynamic almost to a fault and intolerant of delay and injustice, he had a singularly deep respect for the sincere opinions and rights of others. His rare gift of sincere appreciation of other people’s efforts drew to him, as to a magnet, a host of friends and willing helpers from all classes of society. He took it for granted that everybody was as eager to work their hardest for other people as he was and by sheer force of example he always enlisted a host of willing helpers in every effort for the common good.

At seventy years of age he flung himself into the task of organizing the Cotton Famine relief work in Preston, making it an example that helped all Lancashire to win the admiration of the world.

The future movement begun in Preston 100 years ago, may largely depend upon your decisions at this Convention, appropriately held in the very building in which Livesey himself was honoured as its leader and founder 50 years ago.

If your deliberations are inspired with the single-hearted desire for the common good that made Livesey’s name memorable, Preston and the whole nation will remember with pride a century hence, the sincere welcome I now extend to you in the name of his native town.

Thos C. Rainford Mayor.

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