Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Benskin’s Watford Brewery (part two)

We’re back with the report of the chairman of Benskin’s. He wasn’t a happy man.

Here’s some grade A whingeing about the government sticking its nose into his business:

“In July of this year the Licensing Act, 1949, became law, but the Government has not yet enforced all its provisions. These relate mainly to the sale of intoxicants in New Towns, of which there are five in the area of the company's operations. In some of these towns the company is the principal owner of licensed properties and if the Government takes over these houses serious loss of trade may ensue to the company. The Home Secretary announced in Parliament that, subject to advice, he is prepared to allow private enterprise in our trade to compete side by side with State controlled houses. Tills, however, appears to be dependent upon the advice of committees to be set up in Now Towns called New Towns Advisory Committees. It would appear to be only common justice that in view of the interests of the brewing trade and owners of the licensed houses the industry should have representation on such committees. Even from the point of view of the interests of the consumers, and the public at large, it should be obvious that some such representation is desirable if only to give advice on the most efficient, economical and prudent way of building and conducting licensed premises. I think even the most ardent planner would acknowledge that our long years of experience must have some value in this matter.”
"Brewing Trade Review, 1950", page 86.

I’d never heard of the government thinking about taking over the pubs in New Towns. The Big Daddy of them all, Milton Keynes was only 35 miles away and presumably within their trading area. I assume the others were Stevenage, Crawley, Hemel Hempstead, Welwyn Garden City and Hatfield.

They wouldn’t want to lose their pubs in these towns as they were probably some of the largest and most modern in their estate. And profitable. If you see how close many of the New Towns are to Watford – and how close together – Benskin’s faced the possibility of big no go areas around their brewery. I guess he did have a point.

The chairman really didn’t like the idea of government-controlled pubs:

“There is a distinct tendency on the part of municipal corporations and such like bodies to enter into our trade and, in fact, the Government has inserted clauses in now Bills, such as the Housing Bill and the Bill before Parliament dealing with park land and open spaces, encouraging local authorities and empowering them to take this action. It would seem to be very unfair for these bodies to compete with private industry which maintains them by paying rates and taxes.”
"Brewing Trade Review, 1950", page 86.

With all the discussion about the relationship between pub companies and their tenants, this sounds quite topical:

“The relations between brewers and their licensed tenants have been reviewed during the year and brought into line with present day conceptions. For instance, years ago a tenant was subject to three months' notice, and this was considered to be reasonable, but our licensees are now entitled to 12 months' notice except in circumstances of default and they are entitled to be supplied with wines and spirits at ruling current market prices.”
"Brewing Trade Review, 1950", page 86.

Bastards. Having security of tenure and a right to be supplied at the normal price. Pure socialism.

Fancy a look at Benskin’s beers? Yeah, ‘course you do. We’ll do that next.


John Clarke said...

"Fancy a look at Benskin’s beers? Yeah, ‘course you do. We’ll do that next" Excellent - is this where we get a proper look at Colne Spring Ale?

Yalleriron said...

I don't think that Crawley in Sussex would be in their area, but I can imagine that Harlow in Essex would be.

Jeremy Drew said...


I suspect that 1950 is too early for Milton Keynes to be one of the New Towns that he is referring to, and besides wouldn't it be more natural territory for JW Greens and Charles Wells? Crawley seems too far away as well.

I'd suggest that the five were Hemel, Welwyn, Hatfield, Stevenage and Letchworth.

I've only bothered to mention it so that I could trot out an old joke address that relates to pubs in New Towns :

The Cock,

I'll get my coat....