Saturday 8 March 2014

Pubs in the 1920's

In some parts of Britain - the Southeast and around Birmingham - towns were still expanding, with new housing estates tacked onto the outside. But, even when there was clearly demand, licensing authorities were extremely reluctant to grant new licences.

With pubs being actively closed by the authorities, brewers had to keep acquiring new ones jsut to stand still. Which made the prospect of a brand new pub in a new area of housing particularly attractive.

This case is typical. 140 houses had been built at Noak Hill - implying a population of at least 500-600 - but there was no pub. Truman wanted to build one, but met with opposition. One is pretty predictable but the other might come as a surprise.

. . . .
Application was made for the provisional granting of a full licence for a proposed new house on the Estate, Noak Hill, for Frederick C. Ottley, of the Sun. London Road, Romford, and Mrs. Emma Cecil, widow, Camberwell Grove.

Harold Murphy supported the application; and for the opposition Mr. J. Thompson appeared for Mr. Mardell, licensee of the Bull, Brook Street; Mr. Read objected on behalf of 72 householders living withm 300 yards of the proposed site, and Mr. Beazley supported him.

Mr. Murphy handed in petitions in favour containing 134 names, and said the site was purchased by Messrs. Truman, Hanbury, Buxton, Co., who considered it suitable because there was no public-house nearer than a mile. It was a new neighbourhood, where a new demand had been created. About 140 houses had been erected up to now, and when the estate was developed there would be a mile and a quarter road frontage.

Mr Mardell said he could fulfil all orders from Sunny Town and and Mr. Read urged that the residents were quite satisfied. — The Bench refused the application."
Chelmsford Chronicle - Friday 11 February 1927, page 8.

It's no surprise thta there were some local residents who opposed it. There's always at least one who will object to anything. But a publican? Surely he'd be in favour of the trade? Well, not really. If you had a monopoly - which Mr. Mardell seemed to - you wouldn't want competition. In reality it was very common for other local publicans and shopkeepers to object to new licence application.

This will give you some idea of the challenges facing brewers:

Pub licences 1900 - 1930 in England & Wales
Year  Full Beer / wine Total Pubs  Population
1900 102,189 32,249,187
1905 99,478 33,990,764
1910 64,129 28,355 92,484 35,796,280
1914 62,104 25,556 87,660 36,960,684
1920 60,021 23,411 83,432 37,524,000
1923 58,887 22,100 80,987 38,403,000
1924 58,610 21,810 80,420 38,746,000
1925 58,336 21,524 79,860 38,890,000
1926 58,103 21,227 79,330 39,067,000
1927 57,896 20,907 78,803 39,203,000
1928 57,896 21,524 79,420 39,482,000
1929 57,465 20,356 77,821 39,988,000
1930 57,525 20,080 77,605
1920 - 1930 decline 6.98%
1910 - 1930 decline 16.09%
1900 - 1930 decline 24.06%
Brewers' Almanack 1971, page 83.
1924 – 1972: The Brewers' Society Statistical handbook 1973”, page 50.

If the increase in population is taken into account, the decline in pub numbers is even more dramatic.

The Sun, a rather attractive 1920's Truman house, still exists. I wonder if that was rebuilt in response to the licence application refusal?

A Truman eagle is clearly visible above the right-hand balcony.

1 comment:

Jeremy Drew said...

And indeed on on the other side, hidden by the the flag.