Jump to content
Great War Forum

Remembered Today:

Sign in to follow this  
dave ricketts

Licensing, Drinking & Temperance

Recommended Posts

dave ricketts

I wonder if anyone can point me at suitable sources for these subjects during the Great War? My interest has been picqued by the fact that a local publican got prosecuted for buying some soldier friends a round. I also note that locally the churches seemed big on temperance, at least if the local papers are to be believed.

Thanks,

Dave

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Tom Morgan

In October 1915, in an attempt to reduce alcohol consumption, pub opening hours were reduced and it became an offence to buy drinks for other people. This was the "No Treating" Order. It looks as if your landlord was "done" under this bit of legislation.

Tom

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
tipperary

Hi Dave try a search on DORA or defence of the realm act 1915.It was under this act that the no treat and the opening hours and such were dealt with.john

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sandie Hayes

There's a little book by a Methodist shop keeper from Carlisle about licensing laws in the Great War.

I can't remember the title but I will have a search in our 'back room' - it's in there somewhere!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Nepper

Available on Google Books is "Alcohol and temperance in modern history" which certainly has an entry on the Carlisle Scheme where all the pubs and breweries in Carlisle were nationalised in 1916 - a situation that remained until 1974!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
dave ricketts

One and All,

Thanks a lot.

It's an interesting area.

Cheers,

Dave

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Jim_Grundy

Dave

I wrote a piece a year ago for the WFA touching on this subject:

http://www.westernfrontassociation.com/component/content/article/160-life-on-the-home-front/1591-lloyd-georges-beer-or-when-it-was-illegal-to-buy-your-round.html

A longer piece focusing on some of the experiences in Hucknall, Nottinghamshire, can be found here:

https://www.facebook.com/note.php?saved&&note_id=124520814233331&id=117600881609310

I've got quite a lot of stories about landlords being fined for late opening, 'treating', etc. if there's any particular area that you're interested in.

Cheers,

Jim

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
JimSmithson

One major focus you miss in your article Jim is the early opening of pubs which was prevalent before and during the early part of the war. It was common for workers to arrive at their place already the worse for alcohol and it was this aspect of drink that L-G particularly rounded on when he became Munitions minister. It was claimed that a large amount of productivity was lost due to alcohol. Thus the later morning opening hours were introduced that we know from our youth. Further, the canteen in work was introduced at this time to give workers the chance to drink something (non-alcoholic!) during the day.

Jim

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Tom Morgan

Thanks for pointing out your two excellent articles, Jim. They give a fascinating insight into life on the Home Front.

Tom

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
truthergw

As an indication of how seriously the alcohol problem was taken, the King ' took the pledge' for the duration of the war. There is an amusing ancdote of a dinner at Haig's HQ with his Majesty present as well as Marshal Joffre and Papa Joffre's being rather disgruntled at being offered only soft drinks with his meal. This was not only a war time problem. Winston Churchill lost what had been a safe Liberal seat in 1922 to a Prohibitionist candidate.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Jim_Grundy

Thanks for the kind words, Tom. Much appreciated.

Jim, I think I did mention that pubs opened as early as 0500 in my articles but that opening hours were restricted to around 6 hours per day. The fact is that pub opening hours were curtailed without any evidence being presented that war production had been affected. Indeed, as one of the quotations used in one of the articles shows calls for prohibition were made even before Mons, as campaigners used the war as a pretext to further their own views; views that had not changed in response to the changed conditions of the war.

The words of men like Lloyd-George actually caused grave offence to many ordinary folk. Keir Hardie spoke for many when he said that, "Maligned and insulted, and the lying word on the authority of Mr. Lloyd-George had gone round the world that the British working classes were a set of drunken wasters" (more here: https://www.facebook.com/#!/note.php?note_id=190364500982295).

There is some speculation that the King didn't quite hold to his word about not drinking and, in any event, it was down to Lloyd-George who put a lot of pressure on the King to make the declaration. I believe only one member of the House of Lords made a similar pledge, the Duke of Portland. His comments on the matter can be read here: https://www.facebook.com/#!/note.php?note_id=193443214007757.

In actual fact, there was an official investigation into the level of industrial unrest in 1917 and the restrictions on beer production were cited there as a contributory factor! A letter appeared in a Nottinghamshire newspaper that supported that belief: https://www.facebook.com/#!/note.php?note_id=124806984204714.

It is fascinating to read contemporary newspapers about the attitudes to drinking. The level of social panic and outright prejudice on display by some of the commentators could be taken straight of some sections of the press today! But the last word in this post should go to someone serving at the front, who regarded the press obssession with issues that had little bearing on the successful conduct of the war.

Company Sergeant Major William Mounteney, 1/8th Notts & Derby (later DCM), wrote in May 1915 that, "How much longer will it last is the question on everyone’s tongue but we have not the slightest idea, and I have my own idea that it will be a long while yet – longer than what some people think. It will take more than talking and writing in the Press, about strikes, drink, prohibition, and war babies, etc., to drive the Germans back out of the positions they at present hold. The present time is for deeds, not words. I am not a great believer in too much chin music."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Moonraker

Well before the First Canadian Contingent's arrival on Salisbury Plain in October 1914, the authorities had stipulated that inns in the area should close by 9pm because of 'the large number of undisciplined recruits … at the various camps'. But the problem continued and in the case of the Canadians was exacerbated by the fact that their camp canteens were 'dry', that is, they did not serve alcohol.

Stanley Brittan of the 13th Battalion recorded in his diary that on his first day in camp, 16 October, he went 'down to the village [probably Tilshead] … and got terribly drunk'. On the 17th, he 'went to the village again in the evening, but strong guard there'. On the 19th, he optimistically tried the Bustard Hotel, the headquarters of the Contingent's CO, General Alderson, but found a guard of about 20 soldiers around it. Alderson had received 'serious complaints from local authorities'and telegraphed Southern Command to stress that 'it is absolutely necessary that there should be canteens for sale of beer in camps', pointing out that men were going to the neighbouring villages, getting 'bad liquor' and becoming quarrelsome. On the 21st, he announced that 'wet' canteens would be allowed. On the 29th there was 'considerable disorder' in the one at West Down North, despite the beer on sale being relatively weak.

Having debated the matter, the Canadian Government acknowledged on 14 November that there had been excesses and disorders among a few men in neighbouring towns and villages where the opportunity to purchase liquor presented itself.

The wet canteens were opened at midday, accounts differing whether it was for one or two hours, and for three hours in the evening. Only beer was sold and non-commissioned officers were always on duty to supervise. Alderson continued to receive numerous reports of considerable numbers of men on leave (and thus away from the restrictions of the Plain) being drunk and disorderly in London and other towns, but late in November he claimed that the 'trouble in neighbouring villages has practically ceased since opening of canteens in camp'.

Following the introduction of restricted opening hours to public houses in Salisbury Plain villages, limitations were brought in elsewhere, including Devizes where pubs had to be closed at 9pm from 26 October and at 8pm as soon as the necessary authority was obtained from the Secretary of State, a move that led to much debate in newspaper correspondence columns. On 12 November all premises licensed to sell intoxicating liquor in the Southern Command area were put out of bounds to all soldiers between 6am and 12 noon, though this was not noted in the 15th Battalion's diary until 19 January. There was also a ban on bottles of liquor being removed from such premises at all times.

Moonraker

(PS These restrictions were introduced very early in the war because Salisbury Plain was a military area.)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Jim_Grundy

Moonraker, you're quite correct that there were fears - and justified ones too - that some soldiers would enjoy a little too much 'hospitality'. The bigger concern in that respect was the presence of women in areas close by army camps. Can't think what they were worried about!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
jhill

It seems the issue of licensing, drinking, and temperance (or lack of it!) in the U.K. caused repercussions elsewhere. Herbert Hoover, the head of the United States Food Administration, was faced with great public unrest because of the introduction of rationing and other food restrictions. What made things worse was the fact that the U.S. was sending millions of bushels of grain to prop up the diets of the French and British populations. A typical complaint went like this: "Why should I be asked to go without food that I do like and eat food that I do not like and save wheat to be made into liquor that destroys men's souls?"

I have not yet found evidence of similar complaints in Canada, although much grain was shipped to Britain, and prohibition plebiscites were voting the country dry as early as 1915.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Jim_Grundy

On the subject of rationing, I think we are mistaken today if we think this was a regressive step. In the U.K. the introduction of rationing was actually a very progressive thing that removed, practically at a stroke, an evolving pattern of civil unrest as people sought to obtain - by fair means or foul - more than their fair share of the food that was available.

The British were fortunate in being able to feed themselves during the Great War - rather better than the Germans were able to, there being no 'turnip winter' in the U.K. Rationing was the means of ensuring that what was available was distributed equitably and to avoid the kind of food riots that affected Germany so badly.

As for the old prohibitionist jibe that beer wasted food (with the accompanying exaggeration that people were going without food as a consequence), the response by those who regarded it as an essential part of their diet - and they were the majority - was their complaint was that it took up little or none of our shipping capacity (being made from home-produced barley), whereas every ounce of tea (and Hucknall's prohibitionist MP, Leif Jones, was known as 'Tea Leif' Jones) had to be imported from India, Ceylon, China, etc., at a time when u-boats were sinking merchant ships by the dozen.

Lord Devonport occupied a post known as the Food Controller during the war and he was one of those who cut the production of beer. Cynics noted the differential treatment of tea and beer and the seeming contradiction in the 'shipping argument'. However, as a contemporary Hucknall correspondent noted, Lord Devonport was a tea merchant!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Moonraker

... The bigger concern in that respect was the presence of women in areas close by army camps. Can't think what they were worried about!

On 24 October 1914 Lord Kitchener had to issue an appeal to the public to help soldiers keep 'thoroughly fit and healthy'. He was explicit that they should not be 'treated' to drinks by well-wishers but was more enigmatic when he asked the public 'to give them every assistance in resisting temptations which are often placed before them'. Rather blunter was the rector's letter published six days later in The Times: 'May I appeal to the womanhood of these girls and women who are haunting our camps to abandon their evil course, and to help, not hinder, our soldiers in their noble and arduous life of self-sacrifice'.

In November 1914 the General Officer Commanding Southern Command, Sir William Pitcairn Campbell, received a deputation from Salisbury's licensed victuallers to discuss the problem of drunkenness. Somewhat obliquely, he recommended 'the expulsion [presumably from public houses by their landlords] of dissolute women, of whom it is believed a large number are at present in Salisbury'.

Without wishing to take this thread away from drunkenness to immorality, I have details of a "disorderly house" in the tiny village of Urchfont in 1914 and of a sex party in the equally small village of Shrewton early in 1915.

VD, usually contracted by soldiers from Salisbury Plain on leave in London, was a significant problem because of the numbers of soldiers hospitalised for treatment.

Moonraker

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Jim_Grundy

Moonraker

Drinking and 'immorality' were conflated in contemporary minds.

And here's Hucknall's contribution:

“WHAT HAPPENED IN WEST TERRACE

Application was made at the Shire Hall on Wednesday for an ejectment order against Annie Moore, of West Terrace, Hucknall as she had been a nuisance to her neighbours.

“Ernest Latham, a joiner, alleged that men visited Moore’s house at all hours of the day and night. Early on Sunday morning, August 5th, people turned out of her house and there was “Murder!” shouted in the street. The nuisance had been going on over two years.

“Mr. Severn, another neighbour, was asked what he had heard, and replied, “I have heard a lot, mister!” but he did not state what he had heard. The order was granted.”

‘Hucknall Dispatch’, 16th August 1917

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
NedRutland

I have a copy of

Alcohol: Its Action on the Human Organism (HMSO 1918)

"This little book represents a review of the present state of scientific knowledge on the action of alcohol on the human system. It has been prepared as a provisional basis for further research by an advisory committee appointed in November. 1916, by the Central Control Board (Liquor Traffic). The members of the committee were: Lord D'Abernon, G.C.M.G.; Sir George Newman, K.C.B., M.D.; Prof. A. R. Cushny, M.D., F.R.S.; H. H. Dale, M.D. F.R.S.; M. Greenwood, M.R.C.S.; W. McDougall, M.B., F.R.S.; F. W. Mott, M.D., F.R.S.; Prof. C. S. Sherrington, M.D., F.R.S., and W. C. Sullivan, M.D. Soon after it was appointed, the committee came to the conclusion that, as a starting point for further research, it was necessary to state as briefly as might be the present state of human knowledge on the action of alcohol."

Various electronic versions can be found on the interwebby thing

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
keithfazzani

My grandfather (see below) was brought up in a pub. He told me that men would regularly stop on their way to work for a couple of pints. He said it was an anesthetic for the hardness of the day ahead. Beer was and is still in min any European countries regarded as a foodstuff. Obviously some people went too far but I imagine that for many it was the equivalent of a couple of pints with mates on the way home from work that was common up until the eighties.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
geraint

Dave - Back to your OP regarding sources; I suggest that you browse through your local regional newspapers. They carry the six monthly local Police Courts Licensing transactions. (At least two of my local rags do so.) They are obliged to report on every Licensing area, and the Police Superintendent's recommendations. He will close a pub if necessary, either temporary or permenantly if there is any violation of the licensing law or public disorder. Here, rural Denbighshire) the Superintendant gave the actual numbers of disorders and pub based arrests for each six monthly period. What's incredible is that the numbers of incidents fell dramatically during the war, with the Superintendant often reporting a nill return. A Magistrate asking as to why the incidents had fallen was told that the main perpetrators pre-war had all joined the army, and the problem had been removed! The papers also report on police action taken by individual constables against known problem drinkers. Its a tremendous source of social interactions.

There's a thread here in this sub-forum on profiteers in the local community which may be of interest - again based on gleanings from local papers. It's all fascinating stuff!

Regarding Temperance - it really moved through society like a bulldozer. In Wales it was associated with the 1904-5 religious revival, which was also influential in much of rural England. Here in my home town, there were 45 beer houses and pubs in 1890. By 1913 that number was reduced to 13. Many had turned into coffee houses and temperance hotels, but most closed. Incidently, today, there are still 13 pubs in Ruthin. Local newspapers for that period will report on the closures from the licensing courts transactions.

Many of the men enlisting in the Kitchener battalions, and in the TF were temperance men, and prided themselves in that. Many joined army temperance societies such as The White Ribbon Soldiers, had signed The Pledge, and carried a certificate or testament as proof. Again local papers will report on their activities. It's a myth that all soldiers were drunken sots; thousands of the duration men wouldn't dream of touching a drop.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
dave ricketts

Folks,

Thanks once again. In response to particular points, I've done the local newspapers, and except for the treating and one beer house that sold some stuff it shouldn't have, our local landlords and ladies seemed to be well-behaved!

Jim G - thanks for pointing out your excellent articles. Just the job.

Munster - thanks for the link to the DORA Manual, which opens up another couple of dozen areas to look at.

Cheers,

Dave

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Phil Wood

In my area the magistrates seemed to forget about temperance and closing pubs for the duration of the war. Several were closed 1905-1913 (following the 1904 Compensation Act) and several more after the war (1920-1931) - but they closed none during the war years.

There were a few prosecutions for treating - but it seems to have been considered something illegal but decent - after all standing a chap a beer when he's going back to the front in a couple of days is hardly a bad thing, is it?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Jim_Grundy

It's a fact that prosecutions for drunkenness fell very significantly during the war. One Hucknall headmaster complained that some old boys who had been due to speak to current pupils were often incapable of doing so because of their being treated too well. Whilst there seems no evidence that there were convictions at that time (1917) in the town, there were occasions when men were not treated leniently for getting a few drinks in before leaving for France.

In May 1915, the following article reported the case of John Cutts, later Spr. 182nd Tunnelling Company, Royal Engineers, who had a few with his step-father before heading off:

“Publican Fined

“A soldier’s watery farewell in the Portland Arms in Hucknall on Wednesday, May 5th, had a pitiful sequel a the Nottingham Shire Hall on Saturday last [8th May 1915]. Visiting the hostelry at twenty minutes to eleven Inspector Lucas and other police officers found two men, one of them a soldier, in a state of alleged drunkenness, and in consequence, Eli Shelton, miner, and John Cutts, 33, who is in the Lincolns in Grimsby and was in khaki, was charged with being drunk on licensed premises, and the landlord, George A. Gray, was charged with permitting their drunkenness.

“Mr. C.E.W. Lucase, prosecuting for the police, said that Shelton was the soldier’s step-father, and when the police called at the Portland Arms the men were embracing each other, and obviously drunk. The landlord was in another room playing cards, but his attention being called to the two men, he requested them to go. Shelton refused and later had to be locked up for being drunk but the soldier went at once. When he arrived home Cutts was put on the sofa, and on the police going to the house, was so drunk and sleepy that they could not rouse him.

“The police looked upon the case as very serious and it was very sad that a soldier should get drunk on licensed premises but it behoved licensees to see that soldiers did not get too much drink on their premises.

“Giving evidence Inspector Lucas said when he spoke to Shelton he called him a _____ sneak and told him to go _____ hell.

“Sergeant Greaves corroborated and added that Cutts had admitted to him he was drink and was very surprised next morning to learn that Shelton had not gone home with him.

“Constables Meeks and Harper also gave evidence.

“Mr. R.A. Young for the defence called evidence to show that the men were sober when they entered the house, and were only supplied with a small quantity of beer.

“Joseph Tudbury, of Allen street, Hucknall, who was in the house on the night in question, heard Shelton tell Cutts that he must not go to the front feeling chicken-hearted, adding that he himself would like to go and “kill his eight.” (Laughter).

“George Bratton, of 37, Victoria street and other independent witnesses, were called, including George Gillhouse of West street, a collier, and Mrs. Gray, but the magistrates had no doubt as to the condition of the men.

“Shelton was fined 12s. 6d., and Cutts 15s. The Chairman, Mr. T.L.K. Edge, observing that it was disgraceful for a man in uniform to be in such a position. In ordering Gray to pay £3 and £2 7s. 6d. costs, the Chairman proceeded that it was a very serious offence to supply uniformed men with drink, and that at the present time licence-holders should take extra precautions. It was the landlord’s business to go to a man in uniform and see his condition, and the Bench would no doubt deal very severely with such cases in future. This was not the time to take things easily, but very seriously.

“Gray alleged that when he first took over the house 18 months ago he realised it was a rough place, and asked the police to warn certain undesirable customers to keep away. This was denied by Inspector Lucas, who said that, on the contrary, the landlord had been cautioned by the police as to his conduct of the house."

‘Hucknall Dispatch’, 13th May 1915

Cutts did not return, being shot dead on 28th April 1916. Today he is buried in Ecoivres Military Cemetery, Mont St. Eloi, France.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...