Sunday, 11 October 2020

Delivering beer in WW II

In order to conserve fuel and transport capacity, the tied-house system was partly set aside through a scheme called "zoning"

 Essentially, brewers were only allowed to deliver to customers in a core area. Those outside their zone were served a brewery which was closer by. There were a couple of exceptions for brewers considered to be "national", such as Bass or Guinness. Everyone else had their distribution reduced to their local area.

But before such restrictions could be imposed, the government need information about where brewers delivered.

"Transport Economy:
The Society had been represented by the Chairman at a meeting of Divisional Food Officers held at the Ministry of Food, at which the Ministry had explained to the Divisional Food Officers the arrangements which they would have to make for the regional control of the delivery of beer. These arrangements had been fully set out in a circular letter issued to all brewers and bottlers of beer on the 25th January, with which forms were sent out on which a return was required of all deliveries of cask and bottled beer into each of 76 zones in England and Wales, and 12 in Scotland. A large number of returns had already been sent in to the Society, and it was hoped that all brewers and bottlers who had not already done so would send in their returns as soon as possible. Although the information as to deliveries in zones was essential in order to set out the general position for the guidance of the Divisional Food Officers, there was no doubt that further and more detailed information would have to be called for by those Officers in order to deal with the problem of beer deliveries in their regions."
The Brewing Trade Review, March 1943, page 60.

Inevitably, some brewers were late returning the forms. The Society mentioned is the Brewers' Society, the industry's trade body.

Barclay Perkins sold quite a bit of Stout in Scotland, based  on the number if advertisements they placed in a large number of regional Scottish newspapers. But by 1943 they were no longer advertising in Scotland. Which is what you might expect. They were quite a large brewery, but by no means national. I wonder how they acquired their Scottish trade?

The swapping of trade between brewers was intended to be temporary. Each brewery retaining the freehold of their tied houses. Though some brewers were going for a permanent swapping of ownership.

"Attention had been drawn by a member to arrangements to transfer the freeholds of houses between brewer and brewer for purposes of beer deliveries, which might result in a monopoly by one brewer in one village or district. While the Committee agreed that such a result would be undesirable and that the consumer should have a choice of beer in every district, they were of opinion that the permanent exchange of houses had not taken place to any material extent, and that the problem had not really arisen."
The Brewing Trade Review, March 1943, page 60. 

How ironic that the Brewers' Society was so against local monopolies. They didn't care so much in the 1960s, when they became a reality through mergers and acquisitions. I should know, I grew up in one. Almost all the pubs in Newark were owned by Courage, after the town's two breweries ended up in Courage's hands. I don't remember the Brewers' Society chiming in defending the consumer's right to choice.


Barm said...

Interesting question how Barclay Perkins acquired their Scottish trade. Might some of their exports have gone via Leith? Though I’m not sure whether that would have made any sense.

Ron Pattinson said...


more likely by rail to Scotland. The trade seems to have been Stout only so may have been a hangover from BP's days as a big Porter brewery.