Thursday, 17 May 2018

Unregulated clubs

As part of a debate on The Liquor Traffic (Local Control) Bill, Cosmo Bonsor made some interesting remarks about an unregulated club in the East End of London.

"If they were going to deal with the licensing question at all it was absolutely necessary that they should deal with a certain class of clubs; and he ventured to think that the right hon. gentleman had made a mistake in omitting them from his Bill. (Hear, hear.) There were clubs at present in existence in the East of London — in fact, all over the metropolis — which were absolutely uncontrolled by the State. They were called by various names. He would give an account of one in the East of London which he believed was patronised by hon. members of that House who sat for East London constituencies, and represented Radical opinions, probably everyone of whom would vote for the second reading of this Bill for the closing of licensed houses. The club to which he referred was conducted without any regulation at all as to hours, and his informant, a practical man, who visited it on a Sunday morning at 11 o’clock, when publichouses were closed, found there about 400 people, men, women, and children, and in three of the rooms gambling of various descriptions was going on, and in all the rooms drink was being consumed, and it was absolutely impossible to get even a biscuit, or any sort of solid refreshment. During the hour and a half his friend was in the club he was perfectly certain that two hogsheads of beer were drawn and consumed, besides an enormous quantity of spirits — (laughter) — and besides this a large quantity of spirits was carried out of the club to be consumed outside. If further legislation was going to be put on licensed houses, the houses regulated by the State, he was perfectly certain that this Bill would do more harm than good. (Hear, hear.) In London he understood there were 160 of them, and they were simply for the purpose of getting outside the hours during which licensed houses had to be kept open and closed. He anticipated that if this Bill became law, the gentlemen who were the members of these various clubs would be the first that would be called upon to vote for prohibition. They would not be under the law, they would not be closed themselves, but they would come out to prevent the competition of well-regulated and properly licensed traders."
The Brewers' Guardian 1893, page 68.

The Bill in question was about the possibility of having local vetoes, that is having local votes to decide on whether to ban all alcohol outlets. Cosmo Bonsor in addition to being an MP was also a director of the Combe brewery, so he wasn't exactly impartial in this matter.

That club sounds like quite a fun place. Especially for a Sunday morning. I used to hate Sundays. Everything was shut and the pubs only opened for two hours in the afternoon and another three in the evening. What were you supposed to do?


Brando said...

Go to church, I presume?

John said...

It does sound like a fun place; apart from the kids but. I mean, if I'm going to wander off the beaten path into a den of iniquity, it could at least do me the honour of being child free!

Ross Slaughter said...

Church? What in earth for? Theres no bar for one thing!