Monday 6 November 2023
Off licences in the 1970s
This was a combination of pubs – where a on-premises licence usually also granted an off-premises one, too – and stand-alone shops.
The simple explanation for this, as with pretty much anything to do with brewing history, is licensing legislation.
Temperance-tinged licensing authorities weren’t only in a tizzy about the number of pubs. They didn’t want an expansion of any licences. Including those for off sales.
Brewers reacted by taking control of as many off-sale locations as they could. The lack of licences given to shops is why some pubs had a dedicated out-sales entrance.
The pub closest to our ancestral home on Wilfred Avenue, the Turk’s Head, was demolished and rebuilt in the 1950s. The layout of the new pub was an archetype of the time. Two rooms, either side of the entrance, lounge to the left, public bar to the right.
But, tacked on behind the public bar bogs was a single-storey extension. Which was an off-licence. Not just a door and a counter, but a dedicated, stand-alone shop. The pub is now a Vets. The off-licence closed many years before the pub.
Some off-licences had cask beer. I can remember a couple in Leeds with hand-pulled Tetley’s Mild and Bitter. I wonder if they were tied?
It might seem odd now, but most supermarkets weren’t licensed in the 1970s. And, in those that were, the alcohol was in a separate, gated section only accessible by adults.