Sunday, 19 April 2015

The 1950’s Inn

The pub as draw for foreign tourists is nothing new. Back in 1950 it was already a theme.

Which may seem odd. Why was Britain so keen on attracting tourists? Because the economy was buggered. And Britain needed hard currency to buy imports. The need to acquire dollars is a recurring theme in the 1950 Brewing Trade Review.

The Inn
Speaking to delegates at the annual meeting of the Home and Southern Counties District of the National Trade Defence Association in London on 12th December, Mr. A. G. Bottomley, M.P., Secretary for Overseas Trade, described the nation's inns as "centres of human fellowship,' and said that the characteristics of our inns were being extensively advertised overseas. "They are among the best things we have to offer in our drive to attract tourists, and thus earn dollars," he continued. "In doing my job, therefore, I shall be doing everything possible to sell your goods, because I believe that you who have charge of our inns can and do make a contribution to the solution of the great problems the nation is facing."
"Brewing Trade Review, 1950", page 10.

The Trade Defence Association had been set up before WW I to counteract the pressure on the pub trade by temperance groups. I wonder when it finally folded? By this point teetotallers were no longer the enemy. Their campaign had pretty much fizzled out in the war years.

Tourism, with the pub at it centre, was a crucial way of accumulating much needed foreign currency. It all sounds very 1970’s to me.

Living up to the advertising. That’s a common problem:

“It is, of course, perfectly true that the British inn constitutes one of the greatest attractions of this country to the foreign tourist, and the Travel Association has not been slow to present this particular selling feature to the prospective visitor from overseas, in its widespread advertising campaign, examples of which we have published in these pages. It is equally true that the industry, wholesale as well as retail, is fully alive to the service which it can render, and is rendering, to the national interest in this direction in its efforts to see that the inn and the tavern really do live up to the advertisements of them. But the keying up of the service in the inn for the especial benefit of the foreign tourist is not the only direction in which the industry is serving the national interest. Its service to the home public is just as important. Fortunately, emphasis on the one does not imply any need to sacrifice the other. Bather the reverse — the accent on good service which arises from the urge to attract the overseas visitor is all to the good in bringing up the general level of service to the British tourist in his own land, and to the regular customer in his local pub.”
"Brewing Trade Review, 1950", page 10.

The level of service in the British hospitality industry is something else that keeps poppoing up across the years. The clear implication is that it’s never been up to scratch.

“This emphasis on a high level of service to the public really involves two elements, the first the personal one which must always depend mainly upon the efforts of the licensee and his staff, and the other the material one of improvement of the building itself and its equipment which falls mainly within the sphere of the wholesale side of the trade. The two are largely interdependent. No amount of structural improvement will achieve the desired result unless the human service offered is on the required level, and conversely a licensee who really does make a determined effort to see that his staff offer a cheerful and efficient service is sadly hampered if the facilities at his disposal are not as good as they should be.”
"Brewing Trade Review, 1950", page 10.

A lot of pubs had become run down over the war years, when no building materials were available to maintain them.

But staff were also a problem because of complicated employment rules introduced during the war:

“On the licensee's side, he is having to contend with very real problems in the matter of staffing. The filling of vacancies which inevitably occur is by no means easy, and the facilities which are now being promoted all over the country to train entrants to the trade are a vital necessity if this problem is to be removed. Even so, it is clearly going to be a considerable time before it is entirely removed. Then there are the difficulties arising out of the Catering Wages Orders, particularly in the case of the true inn which, having a number of bedrooms for letting, comes within the complicated provisions of the Hotels Wages Order. The industry will welcome the announcement by the Minister of Labour that an inquiry is to be made into the ramifications of these Orders, to see whether the enormous difficulties which they entail cannot be removed. “
"Brewing Trade Review, 1950", page 10.

Though it sounds like some improvement in the physical condition of pubs was happening:

“On the side of public house improvement, it is disheartening to have to reflect that except in a comparatively few cases the real work of rebuilding and modernising is still held back by the lack of building labour and materials which keeps in being the inhibitions of wartime though the war has receded four years and more into the past. On the other hand, good progress is undoubtedly being made in catching up on the arrears of wartime maintenance repairs ; and the very fact that many licensed houses are now presenting a bright, newly decorated appearance is all to the good.”
"Brewing Trade Review, 1950", page 10.

Next time we’ll take a look at one of those adverts trying to tempt foreigners to Britain with pubs.

1 comment:

Oblivious said...

"Tourism, with the pub at it centre, was a crucial way of accumulating much needed foreign currency. It all sounds very 1970’s to me."

It's still one of the corner stones of our tourist industry :)