Thursday, 1 February 2018

Constructive Action in Carlisle

In addition to repressive measure such as Sunday closing and "spirit-less Saturdays, there was also an attempt to implement constructive measures that would help stop the workers getting too pissed.

Some of them actually sound quite sensible. It sonds rather like the Gothenburg system:

"B. Constructive Action
The constructive policy, under Direct Control, comprised—

1. Provision for the sale of food.
2. Structural improvements to licensed promises.
3. the beginnings of a scheme of "counter-attractions" to drink.
4. Provision for the holding of Trade Union meetings elsewhere than on licensed premises.

1. Provision for the Sale of Food.—The vast inrush of a new labouring population was the immediate justification for an extension of facilities for the supply of meals. There was, in addition, the consideration that alcoholic liquor taken with food is less inebriating than when taken alone, a fact with a direct bearing on the question of industrial efficiency. The cafes and restaurants of Carlisle had been established to cater for the wants of residents and visitors in pre-war days, and the public-houses in general were drinkshops only. Presumably another type of building, and provision for the service of meals on a larger scale, were required in the changed conditions of the city."
"The Control of the Drink Trade" by Longmans, Green & Co., London, 1919, page 214.
This was eminently sensible. With large numbers of single men living in lodgings, there must have been quite a demand for meals.

Back in the 1970's, when I started visiting pubs, most really where just drinkshops. It was rare to find any food other than a cheese roll, crisps and pickled eggs. I can't remember a single Leeds pub that I drank in selling hot food.

The situation is very different today, with a large percentage of pubs serving meals. Though the change wasn't from any moral motive, but purely on economic grounds. There wasn't enough money from selling drink to survive. Pubs neede to broaden their offering or close.

"The Board's first step was the opening of the Gretna Tavern on July 12, 1916. This was the old Post Office adapted to a new purpose. It is in the centre of the city and near the railway station. The hall or room where public postal business was transacted became a bar; here beer and wines were sold, but not spirits. The former sorting office is now a restaurant, seating about 180 persons. The kitchens are between the two halls. The restaurant is airy and light, and decorated in a cheerful fashion. Breakfasts were served from 7.30 a.m., and suppers up to 9 p.m.; the Tavern was open between these hours for the sale of food. Liquor was obtainable only from 12 to 2.30 p.m., and from 6 to 9.30 p.m. For the year ending September, 1918, 62 per cent, of the total takings were for food and non-alcoholic refreshment (excluding mineral waters). A visit was paid to the "Gretna" on May 18, 1917, by Their Majesties the King and Queen, who expressed themselves highly interested and gratified that provision had been made in this way for the munition workers resident in and visiting the city."
"The Control of the Drink Trade" by Longmans, Green & Co., London, 1919, pages 214 - 215.
That sounds uncannily like a Wetherspoons, opening early to sell breakfasts. And the fact it was converted from a post office. I find it fascinating that as well as closing pubs, they opened new ones.

It seems to have since undergone a revers Wetherspoons by becoming a bank.

"The London Tavern is in the London Road, an artisan neighbourhood, manufacturing and residential. the building when the Board purchased it was the home of the South End Unionist Club. The Club was transformed into an industrial cafe, similar to, but on a smaller scale than, the "Gretna." The bar is on the ground floor, the restaurant on the first floor. There are large works near at hand, and the London Tavern was established to cater for those of the employees who do not go home for meals."
"The Control of the Drink Trade" by Longmans, Green & Co., London, 1919, page 215.

Again, very sensible providing somewhere for workers to have their dinner.

"In the spring of 1917, arrangements were made for the sale of food in a number of Carlisle public-houses, in addition to the Gretna and London Taverns. the usual hours appointed for the sale of food and non-intoxicants were from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on week-days, and from 12 to 2 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. on Sundays. To encourage the sale of food, of tea, coffee and cocoa, and of non-intoxicating light beers, in what would otherwise have been solely drinkshops, the Board offered a liberal commission. In the Standard Agreement with their managers the followingclause is included: "The manager shall at all reasonable times supply to customers good and well-prepared food either hot or cold according to demand, and non-intoxicating drinks. As an incentive to managers to encourage the sale of food and such drinks as meat extracts, tea, coffee, cocoa, and fruit syrups, a commission equal to 75 per cent, of the gross profits arising from such sales will be paid to the manager. A commission equal to 25 per cent, of the gross profits arising from the sale of aerated waters and beer substitutes (including light beer which does not contain more than 2 per cent. of proof spirit) will also be paid to the manager. For the purpose of this clause the term "gross profits" shall mean the excess of the selling price of such food and drinks over the purchase price thereof."
"The Control of the Drink Trade" by Longmans, Green & Co., London, 1919, page 215 - 216.

Encouraging publicans to sell more food and soft drinks was a key part of the Gothenburg system. 2% proof spirit is 3.5% ABV, which by 1918 was about the strongest beer that you could find. Happy days for the mangers then, with virtually all beer sales rewarded.

There were also changes at railway stations:

"At Longtown and Annan refreshment-rooms were temporarily provided for the labourers engaged in the erection of the National Factory.   Here no liquor was sold or supplied. Beginning with the winter of 1916-17, coffee carts were placed at the two entrances to the Carlisle station, between midnight and 7 a.m., for the convenience of National Factory workers arriving and leaving by night and early morning trains. In October, 1917, similar facilities were provided outside Mossband station."
"The Control of the Drink Trade" by Longmans, Green & Co., London, 1919, page 216.

Though on a cold morning you'd probably want a nip of rum in your coffee. I guess you had to provide that yourself.


Phil said...

"non-intoxicating light beers" (a.k.a. "beer substitutes"!) seem to be what some think of as "session beer".

Funny to think of people of our generation bemoaning the lack of low-strength beers - harking back to the days when our forefathers used to sit quietly in the pub getting through pint after pint of the stuff - when thirty or forty years earlier it would have been 6%ers all round. It's not that the "four pints of mild and back to work" period didn't exist, just that it's not what beer was always like - not least because beer wasn't always like anything.

Ron Pattinson said...


I've read reports from after WW I saying that after a couple of years drinkers had got used to the new, lighter beers. Plus, beer wasn't always that strong before the war. I realise that I've had a distorted view by first having seen London brewing records. Nothing was under 5% ABV in London. Out in the sticks and in Scotland, there were beers under 4% ABV. A london X Ale was a bout the same strength as a country XXX.