Revealed the 1916 logic behind 10pm pub closing

In Uncategorized on October 10, 2020 by kmflett

Ive written on the Carlisle State Management Scheme which ran between 1916 and 1973 before.

It was a fascinating social experiment that not only worked but did so in a way that was not originally intended.

In 1916 concerned about drinking amongst munitions workers during World War One (whether the concern was genuine is another matter) the Government nationalised breweries and pubs in the Carlisle area. A State brewery was set up and pubs in the area were all run by the Government.

The Scheme,always profitable, lasted until 1973 when the Heath Tory Government privatised it.

The 1916 changes were dictated by temperance policies, the aim being to discourage drinking. The strength of beer was reduced and strict rules were introduced (see below).

Temperance was never officially promulgated as the policy but rather the promotion of national efficiency.

In the current context it is interesting to note that the closing time on all days was 10pm and that ‘time’ was called in order to allow the pub to be cleared by that hour.

As the pubs promoted good food, games and a well regulated environment they became very popular with a wider range of customers than had previously used pubs. So much so that temperance campaigners,aghast that the scheme had had precisely the reverse effect to what they intended it to be, were demanding the pubs were returned to private hands.

One Response to “Revealed the 1916 logic behind 10pm pub closing”

  1. Thanks for this. These dictats were admirable then, and admirable today too. As a 72 year old leftist with a thirst I am lucky enough to have been – as a very young drinker – a small part of the unfolding later history of this “experiment”

    The proper title was the “Carlisle and District State Management Scheme” and, put simply, it was set up to take over Carlisle’s largest brewery and large numbers of pubs belonging to that brewery as well as many of those run by other breweries. As you say, the scheme was introduced into Carlisle and the surrounding area in 1916 as an attempt by the Government to control the drinking habits of the people in the area and reduce drunkenness during the First World War. Many workers from the nearby Gretna munitions works, the largest munitions factory in Europe, flooded into Carlisle with high wages and a thirst to quench. Once the factory was built, large numbers of young female workers were also employed as munition workers. The consequent problems with drunken munitions workers was seen as one of the reasons for state control.

    As a result, bemused Cumbrian publicans found themselves overnight “civil servants” and had to follow strict rules. The strength of alcohol was reduced, opening and closing times were restricted (although they had to be open on Christmas day according to the poster) and the hope was to change the whole pub atmosphere. To add to their bemusement, hard bitten bar staff were now encouraged to serve tea and food and a number of Food Taverns were opened. Games such as dominoes and darts were promoted, whilst the areas “respectable women” were urged to visit local pubs in the belief that all these alterations would encourage sensible drinking and less drunkenness. Indeed, there was even a degree of tolerance, as the poster showed, to so-called ‘undesirable’ women who were allowed to drink – but only, it seems, to drink. In some of the newer pubs with back gardens, bowling greens were built, again, I assume, to discourage excessive drinking.

    Amazingly for a Lloyd George WW1 Reform, the scheme became very popular indeed in Carlisle and a handful of other small areas that saw similar schemes were set up. One, I know, was just over the border in Annan where again a huge munitions factory had been erected, and I have heard there was a similar scheme in the East Midlands somewhere. This popularity ensured that it stayed as an intact scheme until 1973, which allowed me as a mature twenty something to enjoy a few pints in scheme pubs when passing through. My memory tells me the beer was first class, well served and with no modern horrors like pasteurisation or the blanket use of keg containers – although I think they did offer keg lager as well. The pubs were uniformly clean and “respectable” although it felt a bit like drinking in a post office or a dole office as lino was the norm for the floors, all benches were wooden and at least one wall in every pub was plastered with “official notices” about keeping up to date with your NI stamps, the address of the nearest police station and posters warning drinkers to be on their guard against rabid dogs or invading colorado beetles (both seemingly absent in the city as it happened.)

    Many of the Crown pubs that are still around are still trading, although they are unrecognisable now and the brewery may still be up – the last time I was there, but that was 20 years ago now, it was being run by Theakstons. Drinking in a pub where I suppose Harold Wilson was the ultimate licensee was unusual – but rather nice too

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