Posted 05 January 2012 - 08:49 AM
As is well known, pub opening hours were restricted during the Great War. However, controls were introduced piecemeal and never applied universally. Within parts of the East Midlands, an order was made on 5th January 1915. It read as follows:
"DEFENCE OF THE REALM (CONSOLIDATION) ACT, 1914. CLOSING ORDER.
"I, Major J.A. Reeks, being a Competent Military Authority, in pursuance of the powers contained in the Defence of the Realm (Consolidation) Act, 1914, and of all other powers thereunto enabling.
"Do hereby order that all licensed premises for the sale of intoxicating liquor within the areas specified in the schedule shall be closed for the sale of intoxicating liquor to any persons not resident therein at 9 p.m., and shall also be closed as respects the members of His Majesty’s forces except during the hours between 12 noon and 1 p.m. and the hours between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m.
"1. – So much of the County of Derbyshire and borough of Derby as is situated within a radius of three miles of the Market-place, Derby.
"2. – So much of the County of Derbyshire and Borough of Chesterfield as is situated within a radius of three miles of the Market Place, Chesterfield.
"3. – So much of the County of Derbyshire and village of Baslow as is situated within a radius of three miles of Baslow.
"4. – So much of the County of Derbyshire as is situated within a radius of three miles of the town of Buxton.
"5. – So much of the County of Derbyshire as is situated within a radius of three miles of the building known as the Hayes, Swanwick.
"6. – So much of the City of Nottingham and County of Nottinghamshire, as is situated within a radius of three miles of the Market-place, Nottingham.
"7. – So much of the County of Notts. and Borough of Newark-on-Trent as is situated within a radius of three miles of the Market-place, Newark-on-Trent.
"8. – So much of the County of Notts. as is situated within three miles of the town of Retford.
"Signed at Derby this 5th of January, 1915.
"J.A. REEKS, Major
Commanding 45th R.D."
The response of the trade was hardly positive. Having already lost business through higher taxation, pub landlords felt themselves to be discriminated against compared to private clubs and unfairly stigmatised as damaging the war effort.
John Stringfellow, secretary of the Nottingham Licensed Victuallers' Association, whilst guilty of special pleeding to an extent, saw little justification for the action, as business had already been affected by the war. "It will be a most disastrous thing not only for publicans, but for many other people as well," he said.
"The sale of beer has already gone down from 40 to 60 per cent. Since the imposition of new duties, and that followed on the previous slump caused by the outbreak of war. The order will throw hundreds of men out of a job, for the greater part of the business is done between half-past eight and eleven, and it is safe to assert that all the 490 houses affected employ extra barmen at night. These won’t be required now. We regard this order as quite unnecessary. Nottingham is not a military area, there has been no exceptional drunkenness – indeed, the police returns show that there has been a substantial decrease – great numbers of men have gone away, and Christmas leave has expired. In any case, the authorities might at least have waited until the military are stationed here. And why is not the order applicable to clubs? Clubs may sell the most inferior spirits, because they don’t come under the provisions of the Food and Drugs Act.
"The whole of the ratepayers will suffer in consequence of the reductions that will have to be made in the assessment of licensed property, and the lessened consumption of the Corporation’s gas and electric light.
"The order comes as a thunderclap to us in Nottingham. We should have been prepared to abide by any suggestions that the authorities might have made in regulating the conduct of our houses, but this drastic step, affecting not only soldiers but civilians, will ruin many people. Already a lot of the brewery workers are on short time.
"A good deal of general inconvenience will be caused too. If the houses are closed at 9, those friendly societies which meet on licensed premises will have to find new quarters, for many of the lodges don’t assemble until nine o’clock. One of the most serious results of the order will be to multiply clubs."
Source: ‘The Mansfield Reporter and Sutton-in-Ashfield Times’, 8th January 1915.