Sunday, 3 February 2019

Dodgy country club

I'm a busy person. Really. You don't all the crap sandwiches that have been dumped on my plate at the real life buffet.

Long quote today. But a fascinating one, as it reveals quite a lot of stuff about UK society. And its weird alcohol. laws

Police Officer and Wife's visit

A SEQUEL to frequent visits to the New Country Club at Middleton by a police officer and his wife, and subsequently a raid on the premises by other members of the police force, was heard on Wednesday, when forty summonses for alleged offences committed in contravention of the licensing laws were heard at the Arundel Police Court.

ERIC CHARLES ALLEN, of The Downs, Elmer Road, Middleton, the barman employed at the club, was summoned in nine instances for illegal sales of intoxicating liquor and in five cases for supplying intoxicating liquor otherwise than during permitted hours. GERTRUDE NELLIE HOEY, of 4, Middleton Court, Elmer Road, Middleton, was summoned for aiding and abetting and counselling all these offences, and she was further summoned for the illegal sale of liquor.

Other defendants were SYLVIA MILNE, of Lauriston, Ancton Drive, Middleton, summoned for aiding and abetting the sale of liquor; Christopher THOMAS COBB and lSOBEL COBB of La Terrasi, North Avenue, Middleton, summoned for aiding and abetting the supply of liquor; and, for consuming intoxicating liquor otherwise than during permitted hours; ISOBEL COBB, THOMAS COBB (two Cases), LESLIE ERNEST WALWIN (a member Of the Bognor Council); of High Street; Bognor Regis ; GIFFORD KENNETH TIPP, Of Elmer Garage, Elmer Road ; and SYLVIA MILNE, who was summoned in two instances.

The police also made an application for the club to be struck off the register.

Mr. HAROLD BROWN (counsel, instructed by Messrs. CHAMBERLAIN and MARTIN, of Bognor Regis, represented the defendants, and Mr. C. V. PORTER appeared on behalf of the prosecution.

The officer who frequently visited the club premises when in plain clothes and in company with his wife, was P.C. BARNETT, of Horsham. Giving evidence, he said that at 10.5 p.m. on January 18th, accompanied by his wife, Mrs. MILNE, Mr. TIPP, and Mr. and Mrs. COBB, he paid a visit to the Country Club. Just prior to their entering into the club room, he had some conversation with Mr. TIPP, and he made an entry in the visitors' book. There was an extension that night until 11.45. At 10.40 p.m. he asked Mrs. MILNE if he could have some drinks. She said. "You will have to do it secretly — give me the money, and I will pay." At the request of witness she ordered two whiskies, a gin and lime, a lager, a light ale, and half a pint of beer. He handed her a ten shilling note: this she placed under an ash tray on the counter. When the barman had served the drinks, he picked up the 10s. note and placed 5s. 4d. in change on the counter, which witness picked up. Mrs. HOEY was standing just inside the entrance to the club room. She was receiving guests and members, and paying attention to the visitors book. Later, when the bar became busy, she assisted the barman (ALLEN) in serving the drinks.

At 11.34 p.m., he asked ALLEN for a whisky, a light ale, and half a pint of beer. These drinks he supplied: witness tendered 2s. 6d. and received 7d. change.

Visited Club with Wife
Witness visited the club on Friday, Feruary 2nd, at 9.15 p.m., in company with his wife. The permitted hours for drinking was from 6 till 10 p.m. There were only four people in the club, and Mrs. HOEY was sitting by the fire. At 10.10 p.m., Mrs. MILNE purchased two whiskies and two light ales from the barman. These drinks were consumed by Mrs. MILNE and Mr. TIPP.. .

"Just a minute, I can't write as fast as you can drink," interposed the Clerk.

Witness, continuing, said the light ales were consumed by COBB and witness.

The barman put a screen round the bar counter. An opening was left in the counter,allowing access to be gained to the bar. At 10.15 p.m.. witness asked the barman, ALLEN. for two whiskies and two light ales. These were supplied and witness tendere4 2s. In payment and received Id. change. The whiskies were consumed by Mr. TIPP and Mr. WALWIN. Light ales were consumed by Mr. COBB and himself.

Mr. PORTER stated that those people had not been charged, as the drinks were purchased by witness.

At 10.25 p.m., the barman and ALLEN handed witness an application form for membership. This he completed, using his correct name, but an address of a relative, and described himself as a clerk. He was clerk in the Horsham office. Mr. COBB proposed, and Mr. TIPP seconded the application. It was handed to Mrs. HOEY by Mr. TIPP.

At 10.36, Mr. COBB purchased two lagers and a whisky from the barman ALLAN. The whisky was consumed by Mrs. MILNE, the lager by Mrs. COBB and witness's wife. After the departure of Mrs. MILNE, Mrs. HOEY passed the remark that she hoped everything would be all right as it was so late. At 11 p.m., witness asked Mrs. HOEY if she would have a drink. She said she would have a gin. Witness ordered a gin, a whisky and two light ales from the barman, ALLEN. Witness consumed one of the light ales and asked the barman how much the drinks were. He said 2s. 10d., and witness tendered the correct amount in payment.

A Whisky at 11.25
At 11.25 p.m., Mrs. Coss purchased a whisky and two light ales from the barman (ALLEN). The whisky was consumed by Mr. WALWIN, the light ales by Mr. Coss and himself. At 11.38 they left the premises. On Saturday, February 3rd, accompanied by his wife, witness entered the New Country Club at 9.20 p.m. There was an extension until 11.45. Mrs. HOEY was standing just inside the club room, meeting members as they arrived. No-one questioned witness's entry and no entry was made in the visitors' book. His form was not exhibited on the board. Mr. and Mrs. COBB were present. At 9.45 p.m. he ordered a light ale and half a pint of beer from the barman (ALLEN). These he supplied and witness tendered 2s. 6d. and received 1s. 7d. change. Witness consumed the half pint of beer. At 10.30 p.m., witness ordered a gin and lime and a light ale and half a pint of beer from ALLEN. Witness tendered 2s., and received 3d. change. The gin and lime was consumed by witness's wife, and the beer by himself. Soon after, he noticed Mrs. HOEY had gone behind the bar and was assisting the barman. At 11.10 p.m. he asked Mrs. HOEY for a gin and lime, and this was supplied.

The Final Visit
On Saturday, February 10th, accompanied by his wife, witness paid a final visit to the club. At 10.10 p.m.. he ordered a gin and lime and a light ale from the barman (At rs). Witness tendered 2s. 6d. in payment and received 1s. 2d. change. The gin and lime was consumed by his wife and the light ale by himself. At 10.35. he again ordered a gin and lime and a light ale from ALLEN, tendering 1s. 4d. in payment. Witness's wife consumed the gin, and he the ale. At 11 p.m., Inspector AKEHURST and other officers entered the club, and the names and addresses of those present were taken.

Cross-examined, witness said he did not tell Mrs. MILNE he was a shipping clerk from Streatham and that he was broke. He denied Mrs. MILNE refused to let him pay because he was "hard up." He knew there was a dance on Saturday and well known names in the entertainment world came to the club, and CHARLIE KUNZ, the famous pianist, visited the club. He did mention that his wife liked dancing, but Mrs. MILNE did ask him if he would like to go to the club. His wife did not like the job at all, said witness, when asked if his wife was eager to go to the club for dancing. A proper dance band had been engaged and the club was full when he made his first visit. Continued on Page 4

ANNIE FANNY BARNETT, of Horsham. wife of P.C. BARNETT, described her visits to the New Country Club at Middleton, in company with her husband.

For the defence, Mr. BROWN presented a "clear and true picture" of the club, and said he hoped the magistrates would not think that this was just a club for drinking. It was primarily and essentially a social club with a substantial dance and billiard room.

There were two well known people connected with the club, CHARLIE KUNZ, the famous pianist, who was in court, and would give evidence if necessary, and Mr. HOEY, leader of the Piccadilly orchestra in London for 12 years. He was the husband of Mrs. HOEY, who was summoned. At the outbreak of war, Mr. KUNZ and Mr. HOEY, who had been to Bognor many times, brought their wives to the town and they took part in running the club. It was taken over from Major VEREY and Mr. KUNZ and Mr. Hoey spent about £600 on the club premises. Owing to their professional ability they were admirably suited to run a dance club.

During the nights when extensions were granted there had been no excessive drinking after time. There was no question of the extensions which the Bench had granted being abused. Even in the cases for which they had been summoned, there was no suggestion of drinking to one, two or three o'clock in the morning.

This club had a respectable membership, including people who would not belong to a "dirty little backdoor drinking club."

GERTRUDE NELLIE HOEY, wife of Mr. JERRY HOEY, said it was their intention to use the premises as a dance club. A radiogram provided the music during the week and on Saturday nights a band was engaged. Their membership included a good many honorary members, including Army and Air Force officers. Once a week the club was used by Lady COBHAM and her sewing party, working for the forces.

Saturdays were the busiest nights of any week. On January 20th the police officer and his wife were introduced and they had drinks, but did not buy them. She would not have served them had he asked.

Defendant admitted certain irregularities on February 2nd. After the shutters had been put up, an opening in the counter had to be left for those who had been serving to get out. Mr. BARNETT, at 11 p.m., asked if he could buy a drink, but she refused. Then BARNETT said : "Mrs. Hoey, I have not bought a drink in this club, and these people have been so kind to me." He was so insistent, said defendant that she eventually gave way. Defendant said there were no irregularities in the club, and as far as she knew all the laws had been complied with.

Cross-examined, witness said when her husband and Mr. KUNZ were not there she was responsible for the club. On Friday, February 10th, Mr. COBB offered to pay for BARNETT'S membership, and this was done on Sunday.

ALLEN said he had been employed at the club for one year and admitted that on February 3rd he served BARNETT with drinks. He did it on the assumption he was a member. Strict instructions had been given that no drinks were to be served to non-members after hours.

SYLVIA MILNE denied accepting money from BARNETT and slipping a 10s. note under the ash tray. She bought the drinks with her own money. On February 2nd, she had a drink at the time given by the prosecution as 10.10. The clock in the bar was 10 minutes fast.

CHRISTOPHER THOMAS COBB, an officer in the London A.F.S., denied allegations against him. He paid the membership fee for BARNETT. This was done as a friendly gesture.

ISOBEL COBB denied the allegptions made by the prosecution that she consumed liquor after hours. That evening she forgot to bring any money.

LESLIE ERNEST WALWIN, an insurance agent, of Bognor Regis, said he was in Bognor at 11.25 p.m. on the evening that he was accused of consuming liquor. He was a committee member of the club, and had only missed attending there on one Saturday.

After a time, the Bench announced heir decision that ALLEN should be fined £1 on each of the three summonses and £1 costs; Mrs. HOEY was fined £l0 on one summons and ordered to pay £5 3s. 4d. costs and SYLVIA MILNE was fined £2 on one summons, with £3 Os. 8d. costs.

On the other summonses the Chairman (Dr. G. W. EUSTACE) said that the Bench were not satisfied beyond all reasonable doubt, and that the cases had not been proved. However, the police had been quite justified in bringing them forward. An application for an order that the club should be struck off the register was withdrawn by the prosecution."
Bognor Regis Observer - Saturday 23 March 1940, page 1.

Call me cynical, but if this had been a working man's club, I reckon it would far more likely have been struck off the register. The phrase "dirty little backdoor drinking club" tells us so much.

But that's not what most interested me. It's the exact listing of the drinks ordered and the amounts paid for them. The rounds - Light Ale, gin and lime Lager - look very post-war in their preferences. It's all a bit Beer Nut-like precise. The drinks ordered, the money offered, the change given, the exact times. The secret PC must have been taking notes. Profesional habit, I suppose.

A bar clock that was 10 minutes fast - that's so tradtional in the UK.

Bit of a bastard that PC in plain clothes, accepting all those free drinks then grassing up his new mates.

This case was clearly a big deal in Bognor, given the large amount of space devoted to it in the local rag.

1 comment:

Chap said...

Interestingly, the relaxation of licensing hours to allow pubs to stay open all day (1995) and all night (2005) were originally policies of the Official Monster Raving Loony Party before being adopted by slightly more mainstream political parties.