In 1845, the “earnest and eloquent” speeches of a visiting orator had focused the energies of local temperance supporters, particularly the public spirited businessman Mr Richard Tregenna. The idea of a Temperance Hall was well received, and two benefactors funded the project.
“The only public hall in town” in the nineteenth century soon became a centre for more general entertainment and events – fundraising concerts and exhibitions for the Mechanics’ Institute, penny readings, lectures, regimental band concerts, and performers ranging from the Pembroke Serenaders to the visiting “Hoffman’s organophonic band”. Popular RAF dances were held here before World War II.
Rooms in the block behind the main hall accommodated smaller meetings, such as committees. The monthly County Court, for some time after 1872, convened at the Temperance Hall.
Early in World War II, during the oil tank blaze, exhausted Bristol firemen were sleeping in the Temperance Hall. Bombers returned, and the hall took a direct hit. Some firemen were badly injured, but all escaped with their lives. The hall was wrecked. Today’s Pater Hall stands on its site, continuing the old hall’s function as a community centre for meetings, entertainment and dances.