First wood. All import of hardwood had been under government control. Until 1950, a mere 5 years after war’s end.
MR. H. WILSON (President, Board of Trade) made the following announcement: I am satisfied that the need for continuing to import hardwood on Government account has ended, and all hardwood will therefore revert to private trading on 16th January next. At the same time, price control of imported hardwoods will be removed. Details of the scheme for reversion to private buying have been worked out by my officials with a committee of the hardwood trade and will be announced shortly. It will, moreover, be possible, as part of the additional measures of import relaxation just announced, to permit any private trader to import hardwood freely from a wide range of countries.
There are a few types of speciality hardwoods essential for industrial use, and not available from other parts of the world, which have to be obtained from dollar countries, and will continue to be obtained from dollar countries.”
"Brewing Trade Review, 1950", page 81.
Why would hardwood be so important to brewers? Because that’s what barrels were made from. WW II had a really bad effect on the supply of oak staves for barrels. Memel oak, from the Eastern Baltic had been the brewer’s choice because it imparted little or no flavour to beer. Unlike French and American oak. Once war broke it was impossible to get Memel oak. American oak, because of its strong flavour wasn’t a very acceptable substitute.
Dollar countries presumably refers to countries that insisted on being paid in dollars. Britain was short of foreign exchange after the war so this was a big deal.
This restriction was of more direct impact to brewers:
“IMPORT RESTRICTIONS LIFTED
Labelling machinery is noted in a further list of commodities which it is proposed to free from the necessity for import licences, and which will take effect from 5th January, 1950. A summary of the original list appeared on page 812 of the November, 1949, Brewing Trade Review, and a list of the countries excepted from the scope of open general licences was given on page 857 of that issue.”
"Brewing Trade Review, 1950", page 41.
I wonder where they imported labelling machinery from?
Restrictions like these were the reason some breweries required huge investment by the middle of the 1950’s when they may have seen no new equipment for more than a decade. It’s one of the factors that prompted many to sell up.