If you think pub closures are bad currently, you should take a look at what happened just before WW I. The 1904 Licensing Act, introduced by a Liberal government with strong links to the temperance movement, gave Licensing Magistrates powers to refuse the renewal of licences for a vairiety of reasons. For example, if it was thought that there morepubs in an area than necessary. Licences could also be refused if a pub was considered to harbour thieves or if its trade was considered inefficient.
Temperance nutcases were obsessed with pubs providing unnecessary tempatation and loved having them closed down. They were helped by temperance advocates being Licensing Magistrates while members of the pub and brewing trade were prohibited from doing so. It lead to a very large number of pub closuress , as you can see in the table.
Licence holders of pubs deemed superfluous to requirements were usually paid compensation, this being the equivalent to the difference in value of the premises with and without a licence. Ones closed for breaking the rules received none. The compensation was paid from a levy imposed on licences.
Funnily enough, the pace of closures slowed after the outbreak of WW I. For the 15 years covered, an average of just over 1,000 pubs closed annually, with very small numbers of new licences being issued. That's an average of 20 a week. Getting a new licence became extremely difficult. A situation that continued until the 1970s.
For example, if a brewery wanted to build a new pub on an estate, it generally had to surrender one or more licences, usually in inner-city areas considered to have too many pubs.
|Fall in on-licences 1905 - 1920|
|Year ended Dec. 31.||Refused with compensation.||Refused without compensation||Licences lapsed||New licences granted.||Net decrease.|
|Brewers' Almanack 1922, page 100.|