Sunday, 27 December 2020

More wartime pub fun

Even as late as 1944, pubs were still struggling to obtain sufficient supplies of beer. Quite naturally, pubs were reluctant to open if they had nothing to sell.

Heating and lighting weren't free, with both coal and electricity being expensive. Not to mention wages for staff. The licensing authorities didn't always agree. Some threatening to remove licences on the grounds of redundancy, arguing if pubs which didn't open the full hours were surplus to requirements.


Captain A. J. Dyer, at meeting of the Licensed Victuallers Central Protection Society of London, to-day answered complaints about the closing of public houses during permitted hours owing to shortage of supplies. 

It was right to assume, he said, that the tenants would certainly keep their houses open if they thought that there was any business to done. 

It was surprising that the very people who had complained in the past if a public house was open two or three minutes after time were those who now railed if the houses were not open all the hours permitted. 

While a licensee could not demand to see young people’s identity cards he could ask for them to be produced, and if they would not show the cards the implications would be that they were not 18 and should therefore be refused alcohol. 

He had seen the Chancellor of the Exchequer on the subject of reducing liquor taxation. They were paying License Duty to sell commodities which they were unable to obtain to pass on to the public. Members of the Trade could feel satisfied that they had in no small way contributed to maintaining the morale of the British people. 

The Chief Constable of Oxford, Mr. C. R. Pox, reported to Oxford Licensing Sessions to-day that, owing to shortage of supplies, arrangement was made for public-houses to remain open for two hours in the morning and two hours at night, instead of the usual hours. 

Commenting on those licensees said not to be playing the game, the chairman, Mr. D. M. Rose, said that if this continued the magistrates would take drastic action."
Birmingham Mail - Wednesday 09 February 1944, page 4.

The bit about ID cards and underage drinking seems a bit random. The war was one of the few times most people in the UK had photo ID. When I was a teenager, there was no document that they could have asked to see to prove my age. Just as well, or I may have struggles to ever buy a pint. Odd that landlords couldn't demand to see ID. Pretty sure that they can now.

Underage drinking wasn't very common before WW II. But with full youth employment and high wages, teenagers had more disposable income than during peacetime and this seems to have encouraged youths to enter pubs.

As this young man did:

"Under Age In Public House
A charge of purchasing beer for himself in a public house being at the time under 18 years of age, was preferred at Maesteg Police Court on Monday against David E. Rees, 5 Grove Street, Nantyffyllon. 

P.C. Harding stated that at 9.50 p.m., February 25th he entered the "Farmers' Arms," Maesteg, where he saw the defendant in the singing room with a pint measure containing beer in front of him. Witness asked him to produce his identity card which he did and which revealed that he was only 17 years and 4 month, old. The licensee's' daughter then came up to them and asked the defendant why he told her he was 18.5 and he replied "I told you I was over 18." It was stated to he the defendant's first offence and he was ordered to pay costs, no conviction being recorded.
Glamorgan Gazette - Friday 24 March 1944, page 4.

I've never heard of a "singing room" before. Sounds like fun. 4 shillings costs and no conviction is really just a slap on the wrist.

The Farmers' Arms no longer exists, sadly. Unless it's changed it's name.


Rob Sterowski said...

Most ID cards in WW2 didn’t have a photo. There was a special category of card for some people (not sure who) called "with endorsement", which did have a photo glued on, but most people didn't have those.

Phil said...

I wonder if any pubs still have (had) singing rooms. In Wales a few may have hung on, and perhaps in the North East? I know (or knew) pubs which had a de facto singing room once a fortnight or once a week, but that was down to the local folkies making it happen.

I don't know if landlords have any more powers than they did at this time, or if they need them - what's the difference in practice between "the landlord is entitled to demand proof of age as a condition of service" and "the landlord may ask for proof of age and may refuse service if proof of age isn't forthcoming"? The main difference may be a higher level of police-led coordination of how licensees exercise their discretionary powers, and how they're held to account for them.

Dominic said...

Just to echo the comment that the vast majority of WWII National Registration ID cards did not have photographs of the holder, nor was there any general need or requirement to so do.

There were examples that did have photos - travel ID cards for travel between the mainland and Northern Ireland or Eire, and separate green ID cards with photos for government employees.

Dominic said...

'Pretty sure that they can now'

That will depend on the local licensing authority, who may prescribe model conditions, and the jurisdiction.

In the City of Westminster there will invariably will be a condition in the premises license - a mandatory condition - that require there to be

"Procedures for checking the ages of young people who appear under
21 or under 25 to ensure that alcohol is not sold to those under 18, and
that those under 16 are accompanied in alcohol-led premises."

for the protection of children from harm.

There are a number of schemes around - a photo driving license, passport and see

And the Challenge 25 scheme

Ron Pattinson said...


thanks for those clarifications.

Can't a licensee can refuse to serve anyone they suspect of being underage? If only to stop losing their licence.

Dominic said...

In many cases the premises license will be held in the name of the operator that will often not be an individual.

It will be for the Designated Premises Supervisor, who has general day to day responsibility, to be responsible along with the employed staff.

While the right to refuse to serve someone can not be unqualified (so gender or colour bars would not be lawful), if someone asking to be sold alcohol appears to be under age (people can look too young!) they can - and indeed in Westminster certainly it is required, and you'd expect this to be in most licenses in some form or another) - ask that their age be evidenced. If that is not forthcoming, service can be refused.