Portadown has two buildings formerly used in connection with the once flourishing temperance movement. One of these was the Temperance Hall, mainly used by the Rechabite movement which recruited children and young people. The other building, now part of Sprotts Ltd Portadown in Edward Street, was the home of the ‘Catch-my-pal’ movement, which existed in the early 1900’s.
It closed in the 1930’s to become the Savoy Cinema, but the link with the past persisted, and the cinema was referred to by local filmgoers as ‘The Catch’, and that was the case until the closure of the cinema in the late 1950s.
The Catch-my-Pall organisation former a few years before the 1st World War by an Armagh Road Presbyterian minister, the Rev.Robert J Patterson, later to be known as ‘Catch-my-Pal’ Patterson, founder of the Protestant Total Abstinence Union. The new organisation spread like wildfire throughout County Armagh and further afield. Portadown was one of the liveliest in the province, and by 1910, it had 1,127 members.
Its president was prominent Portadown Orangeman, Mr William Henry Wright, solicitor, chairman of Portadown Urban District Council. The treasurer was Mr George Gregory, another member of the Urban Council. The big demand was to provide recreation and games for the pals, and a top floor flat in a building in Woodhouse Street was secured for reading rooms, darts, snooker and other amusements. The flat was not big enough to meet the expectations of the growing membership.
The branch secured its own premises in Edward Street, which was later converted into Portadown’s second cinema, The savoy. The Temperance work was carried out at the same time as the films were being shown on the screen in the cinema. The branch also had its own band- the first ro be formed by any branch, trained by Mr Tom Montgomery.
The Pals branch also held shooting competitions, and hey even and an unemployment bureau, for the benefit of employers needing workers, before the state established theirs. The Pals paid a weekly subscription of 1 penny for these facilities. Those joining the Temperance organisation were asked to give an undertaking that they would not drink alcohol, and would do their best to promote the Temperance movement,