Sunday, 29 April 2018

The Gothenburg licensing System (part two)

It's worth remembering that the author of the pamphlet was there at the behest of the Country Brewers' Society. The very people responsible for the Brewers' Guardian.

I mention that because the author is about to get very negative about the Gothenburg system. Not surprising, seeing as UK brewers would be dead set against it spreading to where they operated. Brewers were just in the process of investing vast sums in purchasing tied houses. The last thing they wanted was for them to be taken away from them.

"Coming now to the number of licensed houses, the author gives a detailed table showing the total number controlled by the company in each year from 1865 down to September 30, 1892, in examining which we find that the number of licensed houses have increased during that period from 23 to 39. These houses are conducted by managers for the company, and these former do not benefit at all from increased sales; many only sell wines and spirits for ready money; must not supply anyone “visibly” intoxicated, or “apparently” below eighteen years of age; and many more restrictions are put upon them in order to reduce drunkenness. And what do we find as the result? In a table showing the number of convictions for drunkenness, and the number of paupers, for each year, beginning with the year 1865, Mr. Mortimer tells us that the numbers in each case have very greatly increased. It appears that “the convictions per 1,000 of the population in the year 1866 were 30.0, in 1875 they were 41.5, and in 1891 they were 44.3. The number of paupers per 1,000 of the population was, in 1866, 68.4; in 1875, 94.5; in 1891, 114.1.” These figures are very largely above those for this country. Mr. Mortimer has given a table for England and Wales, concerning which he says:— "It will be observed that the convictions for England and Wales per thousand inhabitants for the year 1870 amount only to 4.8, for 1875 to 7.6, for 1880 to 5.8, and for 1891 to 5.7. The number of paupers per 1,000 of the population in England and Wales was, in 1870, 48.1; in 1875, 33.9; in 1880, 32.5; and in 1891, 26.6.”

The pamphlet contains many other matters concern ing the Gothenburg licensing system, but we think we have given sufficient to show that it should never find a home in this country—unless it were desirable to terminate the rapid decrease in crime and drunkenness which is going on apace in Great Britain. Thanks are due from “all sorts and conditions of men” for the lucid and painstaking manner in which Mr. Mortimer has done his task, which will be of great assistance to anyone wanting to study the working of this system in all its details."
The Brewers' Guardian 1893, page 3.
To put this into context, there was quite a bit of discussion - some of it prompted by bishops in the House of Lords - about introducing the Gothenburg system in the UK. Nothing ever came of it, thankfully. At least not in the 20th century. There was Carlisle from WW I onwards, but that wasn't exactly the same.

There were a some pubs in Scotland run by trusts along the classic Gothenburg lines, mostly in mining districts. A handful are still run that way today.

I'm pretty dubious of the use of statistics in the article, as the author is clearly not impartial.

1 comment:

Doug Warren said...

I struck up a conversation with a man at the supermarket here in Peterborough, Ontario a couple of weeks ago. He's from Armadale, West Lothian - it used to be a coal mining area. He mentioned in passing the local pub is called The Goth - The Gothenburg. I wondered why a Scottish village would have a pub named after a Swedish city. Now I know why. Thanks!