Built in 1888, Haverfordwest Temperance Hall was late on the scene in comparison with other Pembrokeshire towns trying to combat alcohol abuse.
The enormous difficulties of life throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, combined quite often with the danger of drinking water in cities, meant that consuming alcohol was often inevitable. In many cases it was used as an anaesthetic in trying to numb the horror of being poor.
The Temperance campaigns were likely to instruct men on the importance of their moral outlook and an insistence on the value of religion. A variety of entertainments and talks were organised and staged in all Halls.
Medical knowledge, despite improving throughout the nineteenth century, had no answer to the problems of alcoholism and tended, like the Temperance Movement to view the issue as a difficulty of the working class through low self will.
Haverfordwest has long had a reputation for drunkenness. All towns from time to time achieve local fame with one, usually negative, soubriquet or another being applied, but Haverfordwest’s has always unfortunately been for drunkenness.
In 1904, General George Herbert Harries, originally a native of Haverfordwest before emigrating to the USA, visited the town. His first impression after an absence of many years was that it hadn’t changed much, but he was proud of a lifelong teetotal habit and went on to say,
I could not help noticing the drinking here. I have seen more drunkenness on the streets of Haverfordwest in three days than in ten years in Washington...which has a population of three hundred and fifty thousand people.
In 1889 County Councils came into being and having nowhere to meet, they used the Temperance Hall. The Hall was used for twelve years until seating benches were placed in the Shire Hall.
It ceased to be used for its original purpose by the end of the First World War and became a cinema for a few years. During the Second World War it became a billet for a large number of Dutch soldiers.
The final property in this row is the ...