Monday, 1 August 2016

"No" To Pubs' 10 P.M. Plea

I can remember being shocked when I discovered that pubs in Scotland shut at 10 PM and didn’t open at all on Sundays.

While I was used to English licensing laws, those in Scotland seemed baffling and ludicrously restrictive. It was all the sad result of temperance twats taking advantage of WW I.  They were lucky they still had puns at all in Scotland. With the Local Veto Act killjoy teetotallers had hoped to snuff out licences one area at a time.

Opening hours were the longest in London, but not much shorter in other English urban areas. But in Scotland they were the shortest. Early closing time was reckoned to be counter-productive as it encouraged people to go straight to the pub from work. If you went home, had your tea and then went for a pint, it would be too late. Instead, they just drank from opening to closing.

Doing away with that custom was one of the main arguments put forward for changing licensing hours in Scotland. Which was intended to harmonise the rules with those in England, but had the unforeseen consequence of allowing pubs to open much longer than south of the border. Pubs that stayed open all afternoon. It sounded like a dream to us poor sods in England.

Back in the 1950’s, closing times were even more ridiculously early:

"No" To Pubs' 10 P.M. Plea
By a unanimous vote Aberdeen magistrates to-day rejected applications for longer licensing hours in the city during the summer months.

Before the magistrates at an adjourned sitting of the Licensing Court was an application from Aberdeen Excise Licenceholders’ Association for an extension from 9.30 p.m. to 10.0 p.m. during the inclusive period June-September.

Aberdeen and District Licensed Grocers' Association asked for an extension from eight hours to eight and a half hours, the extension taking effect in the second period making opening time 5.0 p.m.

Price Prohibitive
Mr. Norman J. Wilson, advocate, for the licence-holders, said that the application was not made simply for the interests of the trade. Spirits could not be purchased in large quantities these days. They were scarce and the price was prohibitive.

The result was that the average citizen had to go to a hotel or public-house, but bottled beer could be ordered outwith the hours and delivered within them.

Saying that the extra half-hour could be staggered with the employees, Mr Wilson added that there were numerous clubs in the city which could not cater for the visitor. Reading a list of districts in Scotland with longer hours, he concluded; “In Aberdeen there are special circumstances making it desirable.”

Mr Farquhar McRitchie, advocate, for the licensed grocers, said that the grocer was cut to four and half hours if he was to close his shop at 6 p.m.

The Draught
“The general trend now is to get people away at a reasonable hour,” he said. "The licensed grocers have never really been considered in the adjustment licensing hours.”

“Instead of the poor artisan not getting his draught beer the poor publican is feeling the draught!” commented Rev. S. Ballantyne. objecting, for Aberdeen Presbytery Committee on Temperance. “You will notice that none of the four main cities of Scotland was mentioned on the list of longer hours. "Any extension of hours in our view can only lead to an extension of the drunken evils in our midst,” he added.

Impartial View
H. Ogston, advocate, appearing for four temperance bodies challenged points made the applicants. He thought that the Chief Constable’s report of people flocking from public houses to clubs after 9.30 was rather exaggerated.

Deputy Chief Constable Mathieson said that the police took an impartial view on the application. Answering Mr Ogston he said—“We had observations kept last Saturday night on ten clubs. Between 9.30 and 10.0 209 people entered.”

The inference was that people went there after closing time at the pubs.

The police did not favour an extension but an adjustment of hours. The maintenance of good order, in event of an extension being granted was. he added, the responsibility of the police.”
Aberdeen Evening Express - Thursday 29 March 1951, pages 1 and 4.

Interesting that clubs could stay open 30 minutes longer than pubs. Why would that be? And counting how many entered clubs for the last half hour of trading – doesn’t sound like a good use of police time to me.

As usual, some god-bothering Nazis had to object. Yeah, 30 minutes extra drinking time was going to turn Aberdeen into Sodom. Sadly, such twats are making a comeback in the UK.


The Maltese Penguin said...

I stay in a small town in Central Scotland. As a child I lived just along from the most disreputable pub in the town and would often be woken by drunken singing in the street some time after 9:30pm. This was late 60s, maybe into early 70s. Then things changed, and I'd be woken by drunken singing some time after 10pm.

Two other things: I can remember seeing Tennent's lager tankers delivering beer by hose to said pub in the 70s. And there was quite a lot of custom in town I believe from a burgh down the road: Kilsyth, which became dry in 1920 and remained that way until 1967.

Anonymous said...

Considering how late the sun sets in Scotland in the summer, it seems especially strange to my modern perspective to close pubs so early.