Thursday, 26 April 2018

Richdale's clubs

John Richdale was a small brewery in Sheffield which was gobbled up by Hammonds (the core of what would later become Bass Charrington) in the 1950's.

Richdale had an unusual tactic to deal with unprofitable pubs: turn them into clubs. Though this had its dangers.

"The history of Richdale's clubs arose out of an idea they had after the First World War of closing poor trading pubs, de-licensing them, and then letting them to groups of people wanting to start up a workingmen's club. It was a good solution so long as the brewery did not press any tie for the supply of beer, which could not be enforced under the law as it then stood. Whilst the original founders were in control of the club the understanding prevailed, namely, to buy all their needs from the brewery; they passed from the scene over the years. After the Second World War Richdale held on to their trade just as long as there was a shortage of beer. With the rise of a new generation of club committeemen not bound by the morality of personal undertakings, and being aware of their legal position, and with supplies becoming more plentiful, the clubs went off to their favourite breweries. Mr Morris felt this all to be bitterly unfair, especially when he had let the clubs have supplies in times of shortage. His approach to the problem was one of passionate and reproachful historical argument with committees; which got him nowhere, and which inflamed him the greater. As mentioned, Hammonds, believing him to be well in with Sheffield club trade, made him free trade sales manager for the area, which he took as a sign that he had been appointed to carry the gospel into the territory of the heathen, and if necessary, to suffer a glorious death and transfiguration. It was not what Hammonds had in mind at all; it was also not what Mr Morris really had in mind either, as he thought he was to be brewing director of a combined BOB and Richdale, as Canklow Brewery had been closed soon after the take-over. However, he put their mistake down to a fundamental misunderstanding of his abilities and prepared to face the enemy. It was into this boiling cauldron that I was dropped, in an attempt to persuade the citizens of Sheffield to drink Hammonds' beer."
"The Brewing Industry 1950 - 1990", by Anthony Avis, 1997, page 46.

BOB stands for Bentley's Old Brewery. Mr. Morris was the manager and head brewer of Richdale. Like many in the industry at the time, he seems to have been quite a character.

Owning clubs where it wasn't possible to enforce a beer tie, doesn't seem like a very clever situation. Especially as Richdale only owned a handful of pubs in addition to five clubs.

The relationship between breweries and clubs was sometimes complicated. On the one hand, they were some of the few truly free of tie outlets. On the other, they competed with a brewery's own pubs.

The rules on tying clubs must have changed because in the 1970's I'm sure that most clubs were tied.

1 comment:

Tandleman said...

Probably tied by loan as clubs expanded and modernised Ron?