Monday 1 April 2019

Public-Houses Improvement Bill

One of the weirder effects of having temperance twats on licensing authorities was their refusal to allow improvements to pubs. Their reason was quite cynical: pubs that were low-class drinking dens were easier to campaign against.

Any improvements to pubs had to be approved by licensing magistrates. You'd think that ones to make pubs more comfortable and provide facilities for activities other than drinking would have no trouble getting approval. But this wasn't the case. Mostly because of obstructive temperance twats.

"Public-Houses Improvement Bill.
The following is the text of the Bill introduced in the House of Lords by Lord Lamington “to facilitate the Provision of Accommodation for supplying Food, and other Improvements in connection with Premises licensed for the Sale of Intoxicating Liquors by retail”:—

1. In exercising powers with respect to granting permission for structural alterations upon or extensions to premises licensed for the sale of intoxicating liquors by retail, the licensing justices shall not do so in such manner as to interfere with ~

(a) the provision of accommodation for the supply of food or light refreshments;
(b) the making of such premises, or any part thereof, more open, airy, commodious, or comfortable;
(c) the improvement or enlargement of the sanitary accommodation;
(d) the substitution of the provision of chairs and tables either wholly or partly in lieu of existing bar accommodation;
(c) the provision of games, newspapers, music, or gardens, or any other means of reasonable recreation:

Provided always that no alteration in the premises or fittings, the chief effect of which would be, in the opinion of the licensing justices, to increase the consumption of intoxicating liquors only, shall be deemed to come within the provisions of this section: Provided also that in case of refusal to sanction alterations on the last-named ground an appeal shall lie to Quarter Sessions.

A Memorandum accompanying the Bill gives the following explanation:—

“The object of this Bill is to reform the public-house. At the present time the public-house is, in many cases, merely a place to drink in. The owner or licensee is strictly and systematically debarred from converting his house into a place for social and pleasurable intercourse, and from providing accommodation for the supply of food and other refreshments that the public may require. In France, Belgium, and other continental countries, this class of trader has the same liberty to extend and develop his business as has the grocer, the draper, or other trader or shopkeeper, with the result that the public-house or café in Paris or Brussels is a public-house in fact as well as in name—a place where all classes may congregate for the purpose of refreshment, enjoyment, and recreation. The arbitrary restrictions which the law imposes upon the publican in the United Kingdom have resulted in driving people into unregulated resorts such as clubs to obtain those things which in other countries are provided in a superior and high class style in the café. The effect of these restrictions is seen in the widespread evils of excessive and secret drinking and gambling, to check which the law provides and can provide no real remedy. In France, with free conditions as regards the sale of drink and with unrestricted hours of opening, in 1907 the total charges of drunkenness were 623; in Paris the total charges were 207. In England and Wales the conviction for drunkenness in the same period were about 200,000, more than a fourth of which were in the metropolitan police district, while in Glasgow and Edinburgh, where there is Sunday closing, early closing on week days, and closing on special days, the convictions for drunkenness were 22,025 and 14,791 respectively. These figures speak for themselves. If the English public were provided with similar facilities for pleasure and recreation as are found in every flourishing Continental café, it may safely be concluded that the amount of drunkenness would not have reached such high figures as these.

The Bill does not propose to take away any of the powers for the police supervision of public-houses.”
Brewers' Journal, vol. 45, 1909, pages 418.
Converting dingy pubs into family-friendly continental-style cafes had long been a dream of some brewers. But things never seem to work out like that. A similar desire was behind Labour's revamp of licensing laaws in the 1990s. It was just as successful as previous attempts.

There was a movement for improved public houses between the wars. This resulted in things like roadhouses - very alrge pubs, usually on main roads, with all sorts of facilities. Birmingham is notable for having many of this style of pub. Most pubs, however, did not undergo a radical makeover and remained, as before, mostly drinking shops.


bigLurch Habercom said...

I have come to the conclusion you dont think much of the temperance movement

Barm said...

I am old enough to have seen licensing laws liberalised on the grounds that it would stop us being such disgraceful pissheads, and tightened up again for the same reason.

I think young men should have to spend two years drinking mild with old codgers in a pub built no later than 1920 before they are allowed to drink in public with others of their own age.

Ron Pattinson said...


how on earth did you come to that conclusion?

I was raised a Methodist, oddly enough.

Ron Pattinson said...


that's exactly the apprenticeship I had. Though I stretch the age of the pub to 1938.

bigLurch Habercom said...

I remember the temperance movement being active at the time of the last vote in North Wales and them attempting to inflict their views on everybody.