Sunday 25 November 2018

What does a pub do when it has no beer?

This was a genuine dilemna during WW II. When there were often shortages of beer, causing pubs to run out. What should they do then: stay open or close?

Opinions varied. In this part of the Midlands, they had to stay open:

Lichfleld Sand &ugeley have not been immune from the beer shortage week and many houses have been closed. In this respect we understand that one of the prominent brewery firms has circulated a letter to their tenants stating that licensed houses must remain open during permitted hours. The letter explains that the matter had been considered the directors of the firm in conjunction with the various trades associations, and they had decided, in the best interests of the trade and of the public, that their licensed houses must be kept open for the whole of the permitted hours, whether the licensee has any beer to sell or not. If there were supplies of any commodity available customers should be informed, and there was no objection to a notice effect being put up on the -premises. Licensed houses, however, must remain open throughout the permitted hours."
Lichfield Mercury - Friday 08 August 1941, page 6.
I realised beer shortages were a both a common and widespread occurrence when I searched for the term in the newspaper archives. Lots of results from all over the place. As the next example, which is from the North, shows:

Nine o'clock closing of public houses in the centre of Leeds is an early possibility.

Efforts have been made the last few days to secure the necessary unanimity among the licensees of city houses.

Several arguments are advanced favour of closing an hour before the normal time fixed by the Licensing Bench. One is that it the desire the Ministry Home Security, and therefore the local police, that the centres of big cities should be cleared, as far as possible, of surplus population during the hours when air raids are likeliest. As a contribution towards this official policy, the departure times of "last" tramcars and buses taking suburban dwellers home have been greatly advanced for the winter months. This fact makes difficulties for licensees whose employees, if detained in the city until after 10 p.m., will probably have to walk home.

To meet a similar difficulty theatres and cinemas already are ending their performances earlier.

Beer Shortage
Another factor to be taken into consideration in connection with the proposed earlier closing of public houses, is the beer shortage. It has been found that with the present entirely haphazard and sometimes apparently capricious "turning off taps" there is natural tendency of customers of closed houses to crowd into those still open, so that stocks are depleted to the inconvenience later in the week of the "regulars." All day closing on Sunday one result in some instances.

With the idea solving these problems transport and supply, licensees of houses the centre of Leeds have been asked the last few days, by a prominent member of the licensed victuallers' organisation, to agree to 9 p.m. closing. All have accepted the proposal, except tenants of one firm, which controls several houses."
Yorkshire Evening Post - Wednesday 24 September 1941, page 5.

Exactly the opposite approach.

I found the changes needed to cope with air raids fascinating. They must have been incredibly diisruptive. I'd never considered the little practical details like bus and tram times.

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