Heating and lighting weren't free, with both coal and electricity being expensive. Not to mention wages for staff. The licensing authorities didn't always agree. Some threatening to remove licences on the grounds of redundancy, arguing if pubs which didn't open the full hours were surplus to requirements.
"PUBLIC HOUSE HOURS
TRADE’S REPLY TO CRITICS
Captain A. J. Dyer, at meeting of the Licensed Victuallers Central Protection Society of London, to-day answered complaints about the closing of public houses during permitted hours owing to shortage of supplies.
It was right to assume, he said, that the tenants would certainly keep their houses open if they thought that there was any business to done.
It was surprising that the very people who had complained in the past if a public house was open two or three minutes after time were those who now railed if the houses were not open all the hours permitted.
While a licensee could not demand to see young people’s identity cards he could ask for them to be produced, and if they would not show the cards the implications would be that they were not 18 and should therefore be refused alcohol.
He had seen the Chancellor of the Exchequer on the subject of reducing liquor taxation. They were paying License Duty to sell commodities which they were unable to obtain to pass on to the public. Members of the Trade could feel satisfied that they had in no small way contributed to maintaining the morale of the British people.
The Chief Constable of Oxford, Mr. C. R. Pox, reported to Oxford Licensing Sessions to-day that, owing to shortage of supplies, arrangement was made for public-houses to remain open for two hours in the morning and two hours at night, instead of the usual hours.
Commenting on those licensees said not to be playing the game, the chairman, Mr. D. M. Rose, said that if this continued the magistrates would take drastic action."
Birmingham Mail - Wednesday 09 February 1944, page 4.
The bit about ID cards and underage drinking seems a bit random. The war was one of the few times most people in the UK had photo ID. When I was a teenager, there was no document that they could have asked to see to prove my age. Just as well, or I may have struggles to ever buy a pint. Odd that landlords couldn't demand to see ID. Pretty sure that they can now.
Underage drinking wasn't very common before WW II. But with full youth employment and high wages, teenagers had more disposable income than during peacetime and this seems to have encouraged youths to enter pubs.
As this young man did:
"Under Age In Public House
A charge of purchasing beer for himself in a public house being at the time under 18 years of age, was preferred at Maesteg Police Court on Monday against David E. Rees, 5 Grove Street, Nantyffyllon.
P.C. Harding stated that at 9.50 p.m., February 25th he entered the "Farmers' Arms," Maesteg, where he saw the defendant in the singing room with a pint measure containing beer in front of him. Witness asked him to produce his identity card which he did and which revealed that he was only 17 years and 4 month, old. The licensee's' daughter then came up to them and asked the defendant why he told her he was 18.5 and he replied "I told you I was over 18." It was stated to he the defendant's first offence and he was ordered to pay costs, no conviction being recorded.
Glamorgan Gazette - Friday 24 March 1944, page 4.
I've never heard of a "singing room" before. Sounds like fun. 4 shillings costs and no conviction is really just a slap on the wrist.
The Farmers' Arms no longer exists, sadly. Unless it's changed it's name.