Friday 26 June 2020

Post-war legislation and the brewer

Brewers faced many challenges post-war. Some caused by the war itself, others of a more bureaucratic nature.

The late 1940s, like the war years were one of extreme government control. Pubs - and through them the brewers who owned them - were affected by multiple pieces of legislation.

One referred to post-war reconstruction:

"There are two items that I mention as causing some anxiety and they are the Licensing Planning Temporary Provisions Act, and the Town and Country Planning Act. The former usually applies to places that have been very badly damaged during the War, such as Swansea in this area. The position has been met by formation of a Committee of Licensed Property Owners (of which I happen to be the Chairman) which has prepared its proposals for the re-distribution of licensed houses, consequent on the re-planning of the town, and the more equitable distribution of licences into the new housing estates that are now in process of erection. This Committee has appeared before the Licensing Planning Committee, and is now in process of negotiation and confident that before long an agreement will be reached on plans that will be generally satisfactory. It is necessary to take a long term view of the matter, which may involve some sacrifice, but in the end there should be some compensation by the fact that old and unsatisfactory houses will be replaced by newer and better houses. "
Western Mail - Friday 17 September 1948, page 1.
Getting hold of licences in new housing estates was a key objective of brewers post-war. They were large, modern pubs with little, or no, immediate competition. And about a brewers only change of either building a new pub. Which is why they were happy to trade in two or three inner-city licences in return.

By "more equitable distribution" they mean making sure that every brewery got its fair share of the new licences. This is more from the chairman's speech at William Hancock's annual general meeting. I'm pretty sure Hancock was the largest brewery in South Wales, hence its chairman landing the top job in the Committee of Licensed Property Owners'

Surprisingly, in 1948 there were more pubs than in 1939:

Pubs in England and Wales 1939 - 1948
Date  Full Beer / wine Total Pubs 
1939 56,112 17,460 73,572
1940 56,047 17,318 73,365
1941 55,961 17,249 73,210
1942 55,901 17,191 73,092
1943 55,868 17,137 73,005
1944 55,856 17,109 72,965
1945 55,875 17,085 72,960
1946 56,009 17,017 73,026
1947 56,305 16,927 73,232
1948 58,850 16,534 75,384
Brewers' Almanack 1971, page 83.

I'm amazed that only a couple of hundred pubs closed during the war, given the number that were either destroyed outright or so heavily damaged as to be unusable.

There was another advantage to building a totally new pub as opposed to enlarging an existing one:

"As to the Town and Country Planning Act. Under this Act no alterations or improvements of more than 10 per cent. of the existing area of the property can be allowed without payment of development charge. That may tend to retard improvements to licensed houses which would otherwise have bean put in hand, but in the case of an entirely new licensed house in a new district that is not the subject of a planning removal it is reasonable to suppose that the development charge will be merged into a charge for monopoly value."
Western Mail - Friday 17 September 1948, page 1.
And finally, that bastard Labour government wanted to protect the working conditions and wages of pub staff:

"There had been difficulties during the year concerning the Catering Wages Act, which treated licensed houses and hotels as factories and demanded a 48-hour week for catering staffs. It meant increased expenditure, but the employees generally were satisfied with the former system."
Western Mail - Friday 17 September 1948, page 1.

The lazy gits, just working 48 hours a week. See, they'd never complained before about worse conditions. They must have been happy to work 72-hour weeks.

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