Clubs formed the major part of the free trade in the North of England. And the importance of this trade is shown by the numbers. In 1961 the ratio of pubs to clubs was 3 to 1. Making clubs approximately 25% of the on trade. Leaving a lot of business up for grabs.
The management consultants brought in by Hammonds didn't seem to understand how the club trade worked:
"The consultants had the notion, and they held to it firmly, and convinced the managing director and the sales director of Hammonds, that selling beer was no different from selling any other product. The free trade sales force was reconstituted in the image of young, keen men, smartly suited, who worked normal daylight hours, did not drink on duty, met customers by appointment, and who extolled the range of beers with a portable display case and a price structure requiring the mental agility of an Einstein to comprehend. We were still in that era when the workingmen's clubs did gigantic trade in beer, and the committees which ran them were composed of men who wanted to be entertained, made much of; and who only dealt with salesmen with whom they were comfortable and, above all, with whom they were familiar. We endured some two years of this fantastical organisation and the derision of our rivals. At the end of it all, some good resulted, but not as our expensive consultants intended and charged for; it did make us look at what we were doing and how we went about it, and whether we were doing it in the right way. We did learn the lessons and in the end we found ourselves well set up for the next twenty years to sell into the free trade - in the north of England anyway. Our ideas and organisation however, despite their proven success, were not adopted elsewhere in the BC group [Bass Charrington]."The problem looks like one of class. Middle-class marketing men having to deal with working class buyers.
"The Brewing Industry 1950 - 1990", by Anthony Avis, 1997, page 49.
This next passage again demonstrates how important the club trade was for brewers:
"Later in the same year , in conjunction with Tennants of Sheffield, they acquired Sheffield Free Brewery company, which as the name suggests, was a free brewery with only a limited number of tied outlets, but an extensive free trade customer list, particularly workingmen's clubs in the coalfields of south Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire - highly desirable then. The two purchasers shared the list between them, and the tied outlets and control of the company passed entirely to Tennants a year later."I'm intrigued by the hybrid clubs mentioned in this section, which were both owned by, and tied to, breweries:
"The Brewing Industry 1950 - 1990", by Anthony Avis, 1997, page 62.
"Throughout the first half of the present century the Hull area was dominated by two resident brewery companies, the Hull Brewery company ably run by the Cooper family as a personal fiefdom despite having no realistic financial control, but a very great deal of self assertion (not unlike the Nicholson family with regard to Vaux in Sunderland); and Moors & Robsons, itself a merger of two family breweries, with the Robsons ultimately dominating. Bass had acquired a number of outlets in Hull before the First World War, and their beer had a good following, but it was the two locals who commanded the market with ownership of the bulk of the pubs and those curious hybrid clubs peculiar to Hull, which operated in a kind of legal no man's land. These clubs were tied to their brewery owners for their supplies, and were a substantial slice of those breweries' trade, particularly as the biggest of them were in the Hessle Road area of the city, close to the fish docks, at a time when the fishing industry was extensive and prosperous."What were these hybrid clubs exactly? It doesn't sound like the yfell within the normal framework of the law.
"The Brewing Industry 1950 - 1990", by Anthony Avis, 1997, pages 88 - 89.