Thursday 2 October 2014

The Alcohol-Free Great Exhibition

The following letter shows the advice received by the Commissioners of the Great Exhibition on the subject of drink  (preserved in their minutes) ...

21 Regent Street, July, 1850


I have just been told upon what must be good authority, that a part of the plan of the 1851 Exhibition consists in proving a Kitchen and Refreshments of all kinds for the visitors. As I have some personal experience in this sort of operation, where English crowds collected, you will perhaps allow me to tell you what it amounts to.

When the great meetings of the Horticultural Society were first organised, it was part of the plan to supply Wine, &c., with Cold Meat, Poultry, &c., to those who would pay for such articles; but we found that many of our visitors thought more of eating and drinking than of the objects of the Exhibition, and that the garden was converted into an eating-house - with just such consequences as might have been anticipated from the presence of Wine, &c.

We were, therefore, compelled to abandon that part of our plan, and to limit the refreshments to Ices, Cakes, Lemonade, Orangeabe, and Iced Water. We do not suffer any Meat, or Wine, or Spiritous Liquors to pass our gates, and the consequence has been that the serious inconveniences formerly felt have disappeared. It is true that our visitors were a much mixed class, yet certainly not more mixed than those to be expected in 1851 must necessarily be.

I would, therefore, very strongly advice you to draw the attention of the Executive to this point, upon which much of the comfort and respectability of the Exhibition will depend. It is no doubt desirable that something should be provided; but the Articles usually to be found in a Confectioner's Shop, Liqueurs, &c., excepted, are all that can be required. To those who want more substantial enjoyment there will, no doubt, be abundant accommodation on the outside of the Park.

Pray believe me to be,
Yours very truly,

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