'Ale Bench' figure group
Moulded lead-glazed earthenware painted in enamel colours
Museum no. C.3-2002
Purchased through the Julie and Robert Breckman Staffordshire Fund
Alcohol has always been regarded as a risk as well as a pleasure. The 'gin-sodden London' of the 18th century was the result of complex legislation, which meant a pint of gin was cheaper than a pint of beer. The dangerous craze for gin earned it the name 'liquid madness'. The Temperance Movement of the 19th century denounced the immorality of alcohol and its effects on family life.
Excessive drinking is not the worst evil of alcohol. In the 18th century rum was the staple of the Navy and the basis of the popular punch drink. As a by-product of sugar it was also at the centre of the British slave trade, which saw over 4 million slaves purchased by the sugar colonies in the West Indies.