Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Pubs and the Publican part 9

As the United Kingdom geared up for war, the Defence of the Realm Act (DORA) was passed which gave the government sweeping powers. It was realized early on that a workforce that nipped into the pub before the start of its shift to top up what was imbibed from the night before, would not be very productive. One of the first laws passed in 1914 put the authority over opening hours in the hands of military and naval authorities if the pub was in the neighbourhood of a defended harbour. That encompassed many would pubs, including those in London. With the new laws, London pubs were closed at 11:00 pm bringing relative quiet to the streets. 

It wasn’t only the opening hours that were regulated, usual pub practices such as the “long pull” which gave patrons an extra measure were made illegal as was the treating of patrons, no one could buy a drink for anyone else and publicans could not extend credit to their customers – if you couldn’t buy for yourself, you couldn’t drink.

As the war years dragged on, beer supply became so restricted that pubs in urban areas were receiving delivery of only one barrel of beer per week. Patrons couldn’t rely on their pub remaining open every day because of lack of supply. On top of that, opening hours in dock districts were cut back even further so that closing time became 9:00. 

The Hearts of Oak was close to the St Katherine Docks so would have been affected by the new restricted hours. Were the difficulties of running the pub in wartime the reason that Ellen’s new husband joined the navy in June of 1917? 


Jennings, Paul. The Local: A History of the English Pub. Tempus Publishing Limited, Stroud, Gloucestershire, 2007

Monckton, H.A. A History of the English Public House. The Bodley Head Ltd., London, 1969

Friday, 14 October 2016

Pubs and the Publican part 8

After the death of her husband in 1913, Ellen Booth would have had no choice but to carry on. Not only was the pub her main source of income but, as they lived above the pub, this was the home for her family and also for members of pub staff. Quite a few pubs were run by widows but in some areas the powers that be frowned on women licensees and brewers could not continue the lease with the woman of the family once the husband had died. 

Was it the fear that her lease might not be renewed or the fact that she had four children between the ages of two and thirteen that led Ellen to the altar again in 1915? It must have been a great change to have gone from having the same spouse and business partner for 17 years to suddenly having no one. Life was to change again with a new spouse and partner. But an even greater, all encompassing change was already happening as war had been declared in 1914.  The Great War and sweeping government powers led to altered circumstances for pubs and publicans.  


Monckton, H.A. A History of the English Public House. The Bodley Head Ltd., London, 1969