Monday, 16 April 2018

Bogus Cubs

The relationship between brewers and licensed clubs was a complex one. When workingmen's clubs started to appear towards the end of the 19th century, brewers were generally hostile.

Of course, brewers had invested heavily in pubs and they weren't keen on having what they considered unfair competition from another type of drinking establishment. You often find hostile references to clubs by brewers.

Theew was mistrust on both sides. Unhappy with the price they were charged for beer in the years immediately after WW I, clubs in many areas banded together and started their own breweries. Which annoyed brewers even more, because now clubs were not only competing with their pubs, they weren't even buying their beer.

The cases below are the result of the 1869 Licensing Act, which allowed magistrates to refuse t orenew the licences of pubs deemed to be surplus to requirements.

"Bogus Cubs v. Publichouses.
THE evidence given by Mr. Shaw-Lefevre, M.P., before the Select Committee on the Registration of Clubs Bill, ought to be well noted by all who desire to obtain a true in sight into the licensing problem. Speaking with all the weight of a member of the Government and of a magistrate having jurisdiction over the district to which his evidence referred, he said that three years ago the justices refused to renew the licence of a public house in West Malling, as they considered that the number in existence was beyond the number necessary. As a result, the owner turned the house into a club, With a merely nominal entrance fee and no subscription whatever, and the tenant was appointed manager. Nearly every householder in the place became a member, and in a very short time the club was selling twice as much beer per week as the publichouse had done, and the police could not interfere as “they could not go into the club to see what was going on.” The only other effect of shutting up the publichouse, Mr. Shaw-Lefevre declared to be that poor people who could not afford to pay one shilling entrance fee could not enter, and had to go on to the ordinary licensed house. Mr. Lefevre added that at the village of Wroughton, the magistrates also closed a publichouse, and it was turned into a club. This club was appropriately named the “Gladstone,” and “exactly the same kind of thing had occurred as at West Malling.” The right hon. gentleman admitted that these clubs were to all intents and purposes publichouses, and that it was hard that the licensed victuallers should have to pay licence duty whilst these places went free. He also thought there ought to be some authority to determine whether a club was bogus or not, and did not stop far short of the true moral that the shutting up of publichouses is the most absurd of all ways of attempt ing to reduce drunkenness. The experience of West Malling and Wroughton is universal. Wherever public houses are closed, bogus clubs, or shebeens, or “field clubs,” spring up, with the result that drunkenness is intensified, because it is indulged in beyond the area of police supervision and under circumstances in which public opinion has no corrective force. It is something to have got a member of the Government to see these facts clearly, and Mr. Shaw-Lefevre cannot put his abilities to a more useful task than that of enlightening his colleagues in the Government. If he himself now votes for the Veto Bill or any other mischievous attempts at repression he will indeed be sinning against the light."
The Brewers' Guardian 1893, page 162.
It's quite clever, really, to just turn your closed pub into a club. But you can see why it would drive brewers crazy. Not only had they lost a pub, but it had been replaced by a new competitor that didn't have the same level of restrictions.


Phil said...

the police could not interfere as “they could not go into the club to see what was going on.”

The police were different in those days!

MIke in NSW said...

Still a wee bit of that going on in Australia, in areas where they want to keep the poor people out or, in the case of some country areas, to discourage rowdy drunks from just wandering in off the streets.

Good example where I lived was in South East Queensland. You can get a committee together and open a licenced "sports club" as long as it is associated with a recognised sport. So there are any number of football leagues clubs, Golf clubs etc.

Walking into them is like somewhere in Las Vegas with bars, restaurants, huge "slots" areas and big screens with horse races whatever.
And of course a foyer with a sign-in area, security and so on.

Fair enough, but a huge club sprang up in our area - a magnificent edifice with miles of bars, bistro, cafe, gaming rooms and all the usual glitter. After much digging you can learn that the sports element of the club is badminton and dog obedience.