Manuscripts and Special Collections

Last Orders

This exhibition runs from Thursday 16 June until Sunday 9 October 2022, at the Weston Gallery, Lakeside Arts.

Through vivid local stories, Last Orders: Stories of alcohol and abstinence in the East Midlands, examines the tensions that have marked Britain’s changing relationship with alcohol. It considers the two centuries before the First World War, and a series of economic and political transformations that prompted questions about the place of drink and the need to regulate alcohol consumption.

The materials on display demonstrate some of the ways in which drink was celebrated. Brewing beer was a source of local pride, and selling alcohol provided employment and tax revenues. Local pubs were places of storytelling, companionship and plenty of incident. 

Against these constructions, the exhibition traces the emergence of the temperance movement in the 19th century, which held drink responsible for urban disorder and domestic neglect, economic inactivity and poor health.  Last Orders makes the case that temperance efforts to call time on drinking represented a new model of civic participation and even citizenship.   

Last Orders poster


In this online version of the exhibition you can read a selection of the exhibition boards and find out more about the exhibition content. 

A series of events are taking place in connection with the exhibition. Details and links to booking information are below.

Last Orders: Stories of alcohol and abstinence in the East Midlands has been jointly curated by Dr David Beckingham of the School of Geography and Manuscripts and Special Collections.


Exhibition themes  

Six exhibition boards will be on display in the Gallery. For those who want to read ahead, two of the boards can be downloaded or viewed online as Adobe PDFs. 


 Accessing items from our collections

Items from our collections are available to consult in the Manuscripts and Special Collections reading room on King's Meadow Campus.

You can search our catalogues to find items in the manuscript and printed collections relating to pubs, alcohol and temperance. 



Films: Watch our series of films about items which feature in the exhibition


The curator, Dr David Beckingham, introduces William Parsons (solicitor and Mayor of Nottingham), whose diaries feature in the exhibition.

The curator presents a letter from Worksop's Independent Order of Good Templars to the 7th Viscount Galway, Conservative MP for North Nottinghamshire, 3 July 1880.



Dr David Beckingham presents a letter relating to the sale of the Portland Hotel in Creswell, Derbyshire, 15 June 1880.




From the blog

Read a blog by the curator of Last Orders

Last Orders at the Weston GalleryIllustration of a 'Convivial meeting at Nottingham' from Woodward's 'Eccentric Excursions', 1817Curator Dr David Beckingham, talks about the challenges of selecting content for the exhibition 

Go to the blog

 Next blog coming soon...





Gallery Tours

Join the curator for a guided walk through the Weston Gallery exhibition and learn more about the items on display.

Saturday 18 June, 11am-12noon  
Sunday 19 June, 11am-12noon  
Thursday 11 August, 11am-12noon  
Wednesday 28 September, 2-3pm  

Free, advanced booking required


A series of talks held in the Djanogly Theatre, Lakeside Arts. Tickets are £3 (free concessions) and can be booked online at or by calling the Lakeside Box Office on 0115 846 7777.

Recordings will be available here shortly after the talks have taken place. 

Beer Flavour – A matter of taste?

Tuesday 28 June, 1-2pm

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Beer remains the UK’s favourite drink, although consumer tastes in beer styles have evolved throughout the history of industrial brewing. Professor David Cook of the University’s International Centre for Brewing Science will examine how beer stimulates our senses and evaluate historical and modern trends in consumer preference and expectations for our national drink.   

Book tickets online

Taking the pledge: The temperance movement in Britain

Wednesday 10 August, 1-2pm

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From its foundations in the 1830s, the temperance movement offered its members a vision of individual and collective improvement if they abstained from alcohol. In this talk Dr David Beckingham of the School of Geography will illustrate how temperance groups were organised and investigate how they impacted national debates about drink control for the rest of the 19th century.

Book tickets online


Does the way we drink alcohol change with age?   

Tuesday 4 October, 1-2pm

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How do people drink in different times of their life? Does pouring your own drink at home change how much you consume? Dr Katy Jones of the School of Medicine will explore current research on patterns of alcohol consumption and whether people drink differently in different life stages.

Book tickets online



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Manuscripts and Special Collections

Kings Meadow Campus
Lenton Lane
Nottingham, NG7 2NR

telephone: +44 (0) 115 951 4565
fax: +44 (0) 115 846 8651