It must have been a barrel of laughs. Though I imagine there were some isolated country pubs too remote for the police to come by very often. Or in London’s East End, where the police had reason to turn a blind eye. The only place I came across pubs the regularly stayed open late was in the East End in the 1970’s and 1980’s. Pretty blatant it was, too, so the cops must have known.
“DRINKS AFTER HOURS
FOUR CUSTOMERS AND WOMAN LICENSEE FINED
CHATTING about the day’s shooting and drinking beer on licensed premises after permitted hours, cost four men £1 each and the landlady of the public house £5 in fines, at Towcester Magistrates Court on Tuesday.
The men were accused of “drinking intoxicants on licensed premises on December 13 after permitted hours” and the landlady of The Boat, Stoke Bruerne, Mrs. Emily Woodward was accused of aiding and abetting.
The men were: Norman Ellis Whitlock (29), farmer of Heathencote House, Watling Street, Paulerspury; Frank Smith (45), labourer of Stoke Bruerne; John Alfred Ratcliffe (41), coach painter of Stoke Brueme and Albert William Robinson (33), labourer of 3, Park View, Shutlanger.
A fifth man. Frederick Green (48), a labourer of 4, Park View, Shutlanger, was also accused, but the case against him was dismissed.
Green pleaded not guilty, the other four guilty.
Sgt. Ostle, giving evidence, said he was on duty at Stoke Brueme at 10.10 p.m. on December 13, keeping The Boat Inn under observation.
He tried to gain admittance through the front and back doors and eventually gained access through the kitchen door.
By this time it was 10.55, and when witness reached the room, he found four of the men with beer in their glasses.
GLASS NEAR HIM
There was a pint glass near Green about a third full of beer. P.C. Wells said he took particulars from the men. but Green refused to say anything. When questioned, Mrs. Woodward said she had not served any beer since 10 p.m.
Green, who was the only man to appear in court, was represented by Mr. A. L. Singlehurst (Messrs. Dennis, Faulkner and Alsop)
In evidence, Green said he had been drinking only bottled beer during that evening. The glass which was near him contained draught beer. It was not his glass. He was waiting for a lift from Whitlock who had promised to take him home.
LICENSEE FOR 15 YEARS
On behalf of Mrs. Woodward, Mr. Singlehurst said that she had lived at The Boat Inn for 29 years and had been the licensee for the past 15 years. During this time she had had a clean record. She expressed her regret for what had happened.
Sitting on the bench was Earl Spencer (Lord Lieutenant for the county).
The other magistrates were: Mr. F. J. Snelson (chairman); Mrs. A. M. Jenkinson; Mrs. Jackson Stopps. Mr. T. A. Thorpe and Col. R. A. Collins."
Northampton Mercury - Friday 16 January 1953, page 9.
I’ve come across several newspaper reports like this, where a policeman has obviously been hanging around pubs hoping to catch someone. And often entering the premises in a way that doesn’t sound totally legal. All to catch a couple of blokes with a bit of beer in their glasses half an hour after closing time.
To put those fines into context, a pint of Mild was 14d, meaning you got around 17 pints to the pound. Making a £1 fine the equivalent of £50-60 today.
The pub still exists and very scenic it is, too. Built from honey-coloured stone and with a thatched roof. Amazingly, it’s still run by the Woodward family
The Boat Inn