London pubs in the 1890's
transcripts from Charles Booth's notebooks

The sociologist Charles Booth undertook a wide-ranging survey into life in London during the 1890's. He interviewed people from all walks of life, but what interests me are those he conducted with brewers and publicans.

Below are transcipts from his original notebooks, which were used as the basis for his book "Inquiry into life and labour in London". They provide a fascinating glimpse into everyday life in London at the end of the 19th century.


Interview with Mr William Hoare, Hoare and Company, Chairman of the Red Lion Brewery, Lower East Smithfield
Interview with Mr William Hoare, Hoare and Company, Chairman of the Red Lion Brewery, Lower East Smithfield, concerning the value of public houses, 5 October [1897] (Booth B347, pp217-219)

W. Hoare. Chairman of the Red Lion Brewery (Hoare & Co.) Lower East Smithfield.

Went to see him about 1/. The class of men put in by them as publicans 2/. The rise in the prices of public houses 3/. Views as to the varying policies of licensing bodies.

Looks rather a weak man. Has no fixed views or policies to many of the above.

The value of the house he said depended on the value of its trade. A trade in spirits is more lucrative than one in beer only. The profit on spirits was about 100%. That on beer only 75%.

Publican reckon every month as 28 days and every year as consisting of 13 months. Trade is reckoned as so much per month.

All classes of men are put into their houses. there are always a number of applicants among our private connection. Some send their sons to the university. The best men are in the largest houses. The worst in the beer houses.

Public houses cater for a public need. I f you did away with them, what would take their place?

Prices have gone up partly because of the immensely greater stability in the trade. Brewers now see they will not be done away with. When he entered the business 30 years ago everyone was afraid of W. Lawson and his followers. Houses were then no assured source of revenue. Now they are to all intents and purposes.

He gave an introduction to one of his publicans. Mr. E. B. Donet of the Hope and Anchor, Hereford St., Lisson Grove, whom he said would be able to tell most about the realtions of police and publicans.

Mr. Bramham, Surveyor and Valuer to the Assessment Committee of the Hackney Union
5th October (1897)
Mr. Bramham. Surveyor and Valuer to the Assessment Committee of the Hackney Union. 115 Bow Road on an introduction from Mr. Young a member of the above committee.

Mr. Bramham is a man over 50 years of age, pleasant and willing to give all the information in his power.

He has plans with prices of all the licensed houses in Bow, Bromley, Mile End and Hackney. His list is not quite complete but on permission being given by the Assessment Committee he would be very glad to allow it to be used to check on our map. But he is very busy till Oct. 23rd. after which date he will be glad to to give the matter his attention.

During the last 35 years houses have gone up enormously in value. It began by the loan of one million made to the Cannon Brewery by Mr. McCalmont. With this money the brewery set to tie houses. The brewers looked on without minding until they found that their trade was being touched and affected irrecoverably. Then they set to work to buy also. Prices went up with a run. Then came the Deat Duties act and increased difficulties about the subdivision of property held by partners jointly for the purposes of taxation. So that brewers found themselves at the same time wanting more money and a simpler method of recognizing their own personal property.

They turned their businesses into Companies in consequence.

Mr. Bramham gave as an example a public house in the parish of St. John´s Hackney.
In 1892 this house with a lease of 49 years at a rental of £105 per annum was bought for £9500.

In 1895 £8,700 was stated to Mr. Bramham as the price that had been paid for it.

This year 1897. It has been resold for 23,000.

Another house he mentioned as being sold in 1895 for £20,000 and resold this year for £32,000 in addition to which the buyer paid £4,000 in its redecoration and internal alteration. These are only two out of many instances Mr Bramham could give.

Public houses meet a real want: by some they are needed as a refreshment house, by others as a club, by others as a place of business. The `poney`glass or small half pint glass is the outcome of the use of public houses as places of business. Come and have something is the regular prelude to doing business withj some people. Neither side wants to drink much but they want an oficeThey ask for a poney glass, they get their apology for drink and they get their office. the publican charges the same for a `poney`as for an ordinary half pint and so recoups himself for wear and tear of premises.

One man may not by law hold more than one license, but one man very often is the real proprietor of several houses. But the license is issued in the name of the manager or of his wife or his son.

He confirmed the evidence of others in sayingthat all classes became publicans and that the best were found in the largest houses and that one man who managed two houses well was more likely to see that 3 or four were well kept. He thought the publican as a rule was a little above the generality of his customers socially but at once gave the instance of a man who found his clientele too rough for him, wanted to get men of his own grade into the house as customers and straightway proceeded to make things very uncomfortable for those below it. At the same time the higher the class of trade the more profitable the business.

The number of licensed houses is undoubtedly very large but "they must meet a want otherwise they would fail". Said there were two policies that might be pursued. Either the number of houses should be increased and very great strictness be used with regard to them or they should be decreased by making several houses in one district combine to buy out a few recouping themselves in so doing by the increased trade that would result. In the first instance you would bring down prices a be able to regulate the rate at which they fell by the rate at which you granted the increase. In the second you would increase the the value of those that remained but at the same time reduce the number of temptations to drink. Some will hesitate to go at all when it is a question of going a hundred yards further.

Wet weather is the worst for drink. Especially wet Mondays and Tuesdays, when working men will make their wives give back to them some of the money they have given them for housekeeping.

With regard to the police - Any policeman who looks as if he would like it is sure to get it, "there can be no question about that". Doubts if it amounts to very much but it would be better if it were not done. Publicans do it wherever they can because they know they will get help in turning out drunken men more easily if they do. A man who makes a noise drives away trade., therefore the publican is only too anxious to get rid of him. A policeman who takes drink is more likely to be near and to come quickly if he is called. "Well at any rate the publicans think so."

Talk with Superintendent Macfadden of the North Islington Division
Oct 25th (1897)
Talk with Superintendent Macfadden of the North Islington Division at the police Station Stoke Newington High Street.
He is a Scotchman and very cautious speaker.

He deplored the great increase in values of licensed houses.
A licence is practically never endorsed. Magistrates wary of doing it unless the offense is very serious indeed, result it is never done. "When a stroke of a pen can rob a man of £20,000 you will naturally hesitate, it´s only human nature."

On the other hand he said it seems unfair taht by granting a license you should increase the value of one man´s property by thousands while you leave his neighbour who paid the very same amount at the outset with his plot worth only hundreds.

Does not like to give a decided opinion, has always refused to do so to the licensing justices, but is inclined to think that a great increase in the number of licenses would do no harm. "Don´t do away with the preliminary enquiries as to a man´s character but when you´ve got that grant him a license without more ado." This he said would have the additional advantage of reducing values. A magistrate would not hesitate to endorse a license worth but £50.

As to women´s driking - it has increased but he doubted whether grocers´licenses had helped it. "I know it´s always said that they have, but I have never come across actual proofs, if a woman is inclined to drink she will have it whether she can get it from a grocer or no."

As to Sunday drinking - The Manor House is their great Sunday house. Its owner has 2 men at the door to find out whether customers are bona fide travellers or not (One of them is a pensioned ex-police sergeant who get 7/6 a day for the job). In his opinion it is kept in a very orderly way. The beer house about 20 yards down is not open during prohibited hours. Why? I think it is because th Sunday traveller drinks spirits and not beer, it is not far enough out for them to be thirsty. Then Sunday is a holiday and the custom everywhere is to have something extra good." He thought that the interests of the public would be better served by having several houses open on Sunday round Finsbury Park but could not say that he had any complaint to make with the service of the Manor House Tavern in itself.

"You may argue all these questions about drink and licenses up and down and at the end of it have no decided opinion on the question." He mentioned the difficulty caused by the varying influence of alcohol upon individuals. With many men who have been drinking no effects are apparent until they are fully 100 yards away from the licensed house, the they suddenly become unmistakeably drunk.

Interview with Mr. T. Cox, manager of 5 Public Houses
Nov 10th 1897.
Interview with Mr. T. Cox, manager of 5 Public Houses at the Pembury Arms in Hackney, Amhurst Street. [The pub stil exists: The Pembury Tavern, 90 Amhurst Road, London E8 1JH, telephone: 020 - 89852205]
(Booth B348, p179-187)

Mr. Cox has dark brown hair, beard and whiskers, is about 50 years of age, middle height: his father, grand-father and great grandfather were publicans and his son is going to be one.

he has 5 houses under him.
1/-. Pembury Arms, Amhurst Road
2/. the Unicorn at the junction of the Commercial Street and Shoreditch
3/. One in Tottenham
4/. One in Denmark Hill
5/. One in Homerton

Mr. Cox said that the old fashioned publican was a man of the past, with his white apron, long clay pipe and his habit of drinking with his customers. Now you have a different class of manager - a capitalist, a better class. He thinks that houses were never so well managed as now.

At the Pembury Arms there are 7 bars, two of which are reserved for men only. One is for jugs and bottles. Women are never allowed in the men´s compartments not even wives of customers.

His chief custom is from the residential class of the neighbourhood, clerks and city people who come home have their supper then take a turn out of doors and come in to meet their friends at the Pembury Arms. With some houses the main trade is done with passersby. "It depends on the type of district you are in."

It´s most important that your house should be conducted respectably. Therefore you must serve no drunken man. His potman fetches the police and he turns out anyone they see has had too much. He sends for the police in preference to letting his potman turn them out because of the remarks that would be made. "Look at himturning a man out and treating a man like that after he has made him drunk." The police are not always near. He has tried for years to get a point placed opposite his door but unsuccessfully the Commissioner always says he cannot spare any more men.

Every week he pays 1/- per week to the police as "call money". Nominally it is for calling the servant just before 1 o´clock. This house opens at 7. His house in Shoreditch at 5.30.

The potman is now called "Porter" in better class houses pots are seldom used now. Glasses are becoming more and more universal: the reason being that when you have women at the bar you can´t prevent them from having favourites and it used to be their habit to give nearly a pint to such as these at the price of half a pint. Men too when they asked for a half pint always liked to have it served to them in a pint pot and insisted on full measure, which they told by tipping up their pot thus [sketch of a pot held at an angle of 45 degrees with the top of the beer just touching the rim].

With a glass you serve half a pint just which both you and your customer can judge of before you hand it to him.

Those to whom the most harm is done in public houses are the servant girls sent to fetch beer - not the children. In his houses he has a separate compartment for jugs and bottled so as to prevent this source of annoyance. Children sip, he has often noticed it. he never gives sweets - considers it unfair trading but has lost the custom of many children by doing so. "A child will go 100 yards further for their parents beer if they will get a sweet by so doing." He did not think that the gift of a sweet stopped the habit of sipping.

Houses have gone up enormously and are still going up - thinks many of them cannot pay at the present prices. "They are getting more and more into the hands of brewers." they are worth more than they can give a return on now because of their prospective monopoly value. No new licenses are granted. Population increases and with it demand for beer.

He has noticed no increase in women´s drinking .

With regard to treatment by customers. Mr. Cox when he served behind the counter always refused to accept drinks. People were offended at first but rather glad of it later. They gave a preference to the house where they knew they would not have to stand a drink to the publican.

Interview with Inspector Thresher
Nov 11th.
Interview with Inspector Thresher, retired after 26 years service in the London police corps. of which 12 years were spent in Whitechapel.
He keeps a sweet stuff shop in the Upper Clapton Road. Address Swanley House, The Pond, Upper Clapton Road.
(Booth B348, p189-193)

Thresher is a man of about 50 years of age. A teetotaller and has been all his life. Has left the force now 3 years.

He knows very little of the neighbourhood he has made his home and was, like the active police, unwilling to say anything that could be constued as unfavourable to the force.

As to indirect earnings he said that they were practically nil "if they were divided among the whole force I don´t believe they would amount to more 0.5d per head per month". There needs to be call money for waking men and shops in the morning but this has practically become a business of itself and each district now has its own early callers. The loss to the police has been a gradual thing. Began well before the Trafalgar Square days. Fact is that every now and again there was a case to be run in and that meant that a whole batch of men had to be left uncalled. Customers were dissatisfied and so cast about for some more certain means of being woken. He fancies that some publicans still pat call-money though he said it was still quite exceptional that they should pay anything at all.

Policemen sometimes get treated to beer but this is less common than it used to be. Public houses are so much more strictly kept. There is so much money at stake in them that it is not worth the publican´s while to run any risks. Beerhouses are much more likely to offer beer than Publics. He admitted that any man who looked as if he would not mind a drink would get it. He has seen potmen bring it round to constables in the urinal at the side of the Public. But policemen are a more sober lot than they used to be.

Children do sip the beer they are sent to fetch; but this is not the origin of their liking for beer. This dates back to early infancy while they were yet in their mother´s arms. Mothers drink stout in order to increase the supply of milk in the breast but often help the baby straight from the pintpot from which they help themselves.

There is a good deal of betting about. The difference is between betting here and in Whitechapel is that here it goes on in the streets but in Whitechapel, in the clubs.

Interview with three managers of public houses
October 1897
Interview with manager of public house, in Red Lion Street, Holborn, public house owned by Truman, Hanbury and Baxton's Brewery , 22 (Booth B348, pp70-73)

With Noel Buxton to see 3 of their managers in:
1/. Red Lion Street, Holborn
2/. Clerkenwell.
Corner of Chapel Street [now called Chapel Market] and Liverpool Road in Islington.
October 1897
Interview with manager of public house, in Red Lion Street, Holborn, public house owned by Truman, Hanbury and Baxton's Brewery ,

The first had been in place a year. He is now doing a business of £50-60 a month (13 months to a year). Before he took it the house only did £42 and was very rough in character. He determined to get rid of the rough ones, refused to sell to noisy customers. Got the policeman on his side - gives him about 6d per week so that he should always be there when wanted and more important than that should clear the neighbourhood of his door of loungers and rough characters.

he has now a good spirit trade. Two thirds spirit to one of beer. Gets the "legal gentlemen" from the Sherrifs Court and Bedford Row close by. Opens at 6 AM with hot coffee and rum for the workmen. Half of coffee and 3 halfpennyworth of rum is the usual thing. Closes at 12.15 because the neighbourhood is deserted by midnight. Has one joint a day from which he serves himself and wife and 5 or 6 dinners. "I started this because I like to have a fresh joint every day and also it has certainly increased my custom." Wife, potman, himself and one servant is the household.

Cellar below with beer and wine. Tubes running up from the casks to the beermachines above. Four bars upstairs, one generally taken by the women. One saloon bar. One bar that ranks socially with the women´s bar as a convenience for those who want to meet one another and one public bar. Does not sell many sandwiches or pies except at dinner time.

Has to drink with customers but has a concoction of tea to look like rum. "You could not possibly stand it if you drank spirits every time you drank with your customers."

Talk with Mr. Clews of [blank space] in Clerkenwell.

A great neighbourhood for womens drinking. Women take rum in cold weatherand gin in hot. "Dog´s nose" they also drink which is a compound of beer and gin. Won´t hear any noise in the house, it drives away trade. Gives the policeman on the beat a pot of ale about twice a week- gives no money. Knows some who give nothing at all but not many - just as well to be on the right side of the policeman because then he comes at once if he is wanted. Has been 5 years in the house. His father was a publican. Great thing to have a reputation for turning people out if they make a noise. His is one of the "women´s houses" of Clerkenwell.

Coloured tiles at entry of the house, bars opening out of a long passage. This is the usual system in all newly modelled pubs.

He complained of the amount he had to drink with his customers
23 October 1897
Interview with manager of public house at the corner of Chapel Street [now called Chapel Market] and Liverpool Road, Islington, public house owned by Truman, Hanbury and Baxton's Brewery, (Booth B348, pp76-81)

Talk with Mr [blank space] manager of the Public House at the corner of Chapel Street and Liverpool Road. Has been a publican for 20 years.

Chapel Street is one of the cheapest market streets in London "the second after Chrisp Street in Poplar so they say". Great many women turn in to the shop after marketing. Also many prostitutes come in here "crowds of them in the neighbourhood". Women drinking on the increase. Thinks grocers lincences have much to answer for. Women put down spirits as tea. Then if anything drink rather less. Friday night very busy as well as Bank Holidays.

Gives 2/- a week regularly to the policeman. "Its a trade sustom, everyone does, so I do. Says they (police) invite it upon themselves. He gives to one only. Police wont´t come at once if wanted unless they are given something, they can make themselves very disagreeable if they like, thinks their services cheap at 2/- per week. About twice a month he calls them in to turn out drunkards. "It´s too dangerous to give them drinks, you can only do that in the back streets, there it is usually done."

House depends for its main trade on a regular nucleus of customers but not so much as the two preceding ones. "Casuals" or passersby come in here, but every house has its regular set of customers even if it does a large casual trade as well.

He employs two men and a potman.besides himself. Bars ranged all round a hollow in which the barmen stand. Payments all into a slot and change taken from a little woodeen box with one side open and a row of trays with change. The sum in this box at one time should always be £5-10-0. The saloon and private bars here would look straight across to the public bars if it were not for small revolving windows put in to screen them off.

Does not like women as barmaids "but you must have them where there is a `City trade`". Says they are slower in serving and like talking too much.

Thinks that children sip a good deal when they come for beer. Is not allowed now to give sweets. "One of those commissions decided it was illegitimate trade."

Interview with Mr Reeve, manager of Truman, Hanbury and Buxton's Brewery
Interview with Mr Reeve, manager of Truman, Hanbury and Buxton's Brewery, Brick Lane, 22 October [1897] (Booth B348, pp62-69)

Talk with Mr Reeve, manager of Truman, Hanbury and Buxton's Brewery at Brick Lane.

People generally drink much more beer now than ever they did but the proportion of alcohol consumed is not any greater. Statistics of all countries show this, even in spirit drinking countries, ie that the amount of alcohol consumed per head is a steady quantity. The beer brewed now is much lighter than the beer of former days. Men will have beer. Coalheavers and all who want a quantity of drink don´t care for water but on the other hand they don´t want to get drunk. the yare insisting more and more on a light beer. Brewers are now recognizing this demand. The great bulk of beer drunk is "four ale". Those higher in the social scale who have no extraordinary thirst to quench prefer something heavier. They drink less in quantity but as far as alcoghol is concerned there is not much to choose between the two.

The profit on spirit is more than on beer but beer is always the more important item. In not one per cent of their houses is a larger sum paid for spirit than for beer. In a fair house the payment to the brewer per month would be £50 for spirit and £100 for beer.

The price of houses has gone up enormously. Only yesterday a man came to him - a speculator who had bought three "untied" Public Houses and had paid £300,000 for them. One of them being a good deal more valuable than either of the others. There is a great deal of speculation. Men buy houses without any intention of keeping them, do them up, then resell them. They have thought for many years that top prices had been reached but they still move upwards. (Noel Buxton said that at present prices they did just pay. The lowest price for a beerhouse in London would be £500 "but anything worth as little as that would not be worth it at all".)

With regard to policies of licensing magistrates "they have no policy".

If you gradually increased the number of licensed houses he did not think it would increase the amount of drunkenness or make people drink more but it would "give the rowdy ones more opportunities, you would probably have more noise and the cost of supervision would be greater. What you want is just to keep abreast of demand. If you stint it there will be a natural resort to illegal practices. If you give much greater latitude you will be providing a greater number of places to which noisy fellows will be able to resort."

The system of putting managers in answers very well. The supervision is much greater.They have men constantly going round to see that their beer is not adulterated. Salaries of managers vary from 30/- per week to £500 a year in very large houses: the ordinary rate for a man working with the help of his wife and a potman is 50/- or 60/- per week. A bonus on profits is sometimes given.

"All the police are paid or given drinks: with Inspectors it takes the form of a testimonial when they are leaving the district." It is more of a bribe to them to do their duty than to neglect it. A policeman will come at once when called if he gets something. He will keep loafers from the door, he will take less notice of drunken men ("it may not be a publican´s fault that a man has been served"). It is a trade custom to tip him. Buxton said the payment went under the guise of service rendered in calling the publican in the morning.

Mr. Reeve promised an introduction to a friend of his the clerk to the Tower Hamlets licensing justices and also to some publicans both managers and free men. Himself he has risen to the position of Manager of the Brewery from being an office boy in it. He is now about 60 years oldand his father was a poor dissenting minister.

Trumans regularly use the "Map of London Poverty" before buying any new house in London as a check on the would-be vendor´s statements as to the character of the neigbourhood round his house.

Booth B346, p41

Ida street has 5 public houses three of which are fully licensed: many rough women about and many women in the pubs. Monday is recognised as ladies day: in Carr Street it is known as "cowshed" day and probably here also; poor women being known by their husbands and male neighbours as "cows". Monday is their drinking day because they still have a little pocket money left: they drink in public houses which become in consequence "cowsheds".

Interview with Inspector Carter
B346 pp100-107

The price that are being paid for public houses now is astounding. Carter knows local men who have taken to dealing them to their own profit. They buy up small licensed places, they buy in a great stock of beer, much more than they can sell, a great deal of it they let drain away into the sewers. Then they come to the brewers and ask them to buy their houses pointing out the immense amount of beer they have disposed of. The brewers are only too glad, they have themselves just turned into limited liability companies, they have an immense capital behind them and they bid amongst themselves with the money of their shareholdersfor the possession of licensed houses. A new license is very difficult to get so that it is very important to get hold of houses that are already licensed.

£16,000. This sum Carter has on a reliable authority was paid for the Beerhouse opposite the entrance to the Blackwall Tunnel. This was only two months ago. The house is situated on the west side of the Prestons Road at its junction with the East India Dock Road. They hoped to get a full license for it and enlarged and rebuilt the house. They have not been successful and he hears that the house is now going for £8,000.

Charrington´s is about the best beer in the neighbourhood. But a great deal of filthy stuff is sold. The Brewers put in as managers men to whom they have advanced large sums. These men must make money. To make moneythey must adulterate. If they don´t, they lose and the brewers foreclose. Some firms are very hard. Perhaps the worst are Brewers at the corner of the Bow Road just before you come to the Stratford Bridge; their name is Smith & Garrett and the beer they sell is bad. Taylor Walker in Limehouse used to be large brewers and do a great Indian trade as well as own the houses in Limehouse. But the India trade has failed them and trade has left Limehouse so they are in a bad way now compared to former years. At the corner of the bridge over the Regents Canal entrance there is a house which used to be one of the wealthiest in the town. Big owners used to lunch there regularly. Now no-one does. It has failed and though retaining the outward appearance of a pub it is in rea! lity a dingy coffee house. "To such base uses etc."

Public Houses, Beerhouses and other licensed houses in the Isle of Dogs, Limehouse, Poplar and Blackwall, Bromley, Bow and Old Ford
B346 pp130-155
Public Houses, Beerhouses and other licensed houses in the Isle of Dogs, Limehouse, Poplar and Blackwall, Bromley, Bow and Old Ford: being the result of a 7 days tour with inspector Carter undertaken especially for this purpose.

In the Isle of Dogs there are

24 fully licensed houses
11 beer houses
2 off beer licenses
2 grocer´s licenses

In the poplar and Blackwall there are

62 fully licensed houses
34 beer houses
2 off beer licenses
9 grocer´s licenses

In Limehouse there are

50 fully licensed houses
49 beer houses
2 off beer licenses
4 grocer´s licenses

In the Bromley there are

47 fully licensed houses
56 beer houses
9 off beer licenses
6 grocer´s licenses

In the Bow (including Old Ford) there are

40 fully licensed houses
24 beer houses
14 off beer licenses
8 grocer´s licenses

Poplar as a subregistration district includes the Isle of Dogs. The population of Poplar in 1896 was 57,759 perons which with 146 licensed houses makes a proportion of one house to every 395 persons.

Limehouse in 1896 had a population of 32,917 persons and 105 licensed houses making a proportion of one house to 313 persons.

Bromley in 1896 had a population of 69,821 persons and 118 licensed houses making a proportion of one house to 591 persons.

Limehouse in 1896 had a population of 41,687 persons and 86 licensed houses making a proportion of one house to 485 persons.

These figures are interesting in connection with the question as to how far greater opportunities lead to increased drink

Limehouse has one house to every 300
Poplar " " " " " 400
Bromley " " " " " 600
Bow " " " " " 500

Is the drinking greater in Limehouse greater than in Poplar and much greater than in Bromley?

Our evidence confirms this on the whole - Limehouse contains two great drinking centres

1). Limehouse proper on the S.W. side of the East India Dock Road and
2). the Carr Street district

they are connected to one another by a very hyphen of opportunitiesin Salmon Lane.

The remainder of Limehouse is distinctly temperate.

Limehouse proper, Salmon Lane and the Carr Street district which together form hardly 2/3 of the whole of area of the Limehouse registration district boast between them 92 licensed houses: the remaining 1/3 of the district has only 12 licensed houses.

If the licences were distributed equally each of these three districts should have 35 houses where intoxicants are procurable.

Poplar proper and Blackwall are very fairly supplied with opportunities for drink. The house cluster most thickly in Poplar High Street and again in the neighbourhood of Chrisp Street.

The Isle of Dogs has a fair number but not a surprising number of licensed houses. It is noticeable that in proportion to those in other districts there are fewer Beerhouses than Public Houses. Maybe the Isle of Dogs is less given to beer only than other poorer districts, or perhaps it is that so much beer is drunk that publicans can more easily aford to pay for a full license or that in the past full licenses were as easily obtained as beer licenses. This last is the most probable reason.

Bromley has a large area ie the Abbott Estate without many licensed houses. There are 3 houses with off beer licenses, a few public houses on the outskirts, but as beerhouses. The trustees of the Abbott Estate refuse to allow tenants to use their houses as beer shops.

But, though scattered in the Abbott Estate, licensed houses are very thick in the neighbourhood of Chrisp Street just outside the protected area.

In North Bromley Beerhouses are more frequent in the poorer portions - in the Devons Road, in the Marner Street quarter, and just to the North of the Stepney workhouse.

Bow proper, lying south of the Great Eastern railway has only 2 beerhouses- With the exception of the South East corner it is a well to do district. Bow as a whole shops outside Bow. The Public houses in the district are therefor fully licensed, rather far apart and do a good jug trade.

With regard to the character of the demand for licensed houses within oue districts - The licensed houses in the Carr Street district represent local demand. They are not much patronised by the casual passenger. The beer houses are small and the public houses are not large. They are the places of entertainment of the natives. The beerhouses in particular are noted for the bird singing contests which tke place every Saturday evening. Birds are brought in cages, set in a row, their owners sit round with pint pots and it is noted how many times each bird opens its mouth to chirp in the course of a fixed period of time, generally half an hour (?). the bird that chirps oftenest wins.

In Salmon Lane is a busy street market. In every street market there are a large number of licensed houses. The number of houses therefore is no test of local drinking.

In Limehouse proper the greatest number of houses are in Three Colt Lane. This used to be a busy streetmarket but much of its glory has gone to Salmon Lane. This was the quarter par excellence of seamen. Seamen have plenty of loose cash, or used to have, and spend freely, they also drik freely. Thaye came up here from the West India Docks. These last few years there has been a great change, missionaries and the Board of Trade board ships on their arrival and much of the money which would formerly have been spent in Limehouse is intercepted and sent home to their families. Then again captains insist on their men returning on board at 7 PM; it is after this hour that reckless drinking to the great profit of the publican, begins. In consequence the Limehouse public houses are in a bad way. One has even turned into a coffee house (viz special report on the district) and all are far from prosperous.

The temperate part of Limehouse is the Cotton Estate whose trustees refuse to allow more of their houses to be used for drinking purposes. The existing houses are large, fully licensed and do a very good jug trade. They do the catering for the local wants.

If we now take the East India Dock Road we see a street whose houses are almost entirely dependent on the casual passenger. The native keeps to the back streets. Here the satisfaction of the chance passerby is profitable enough. There are so many going to and from the Docks that all the houses do well. Some have a special clientele such as the Aberfeldy Tavern [pub still exists] at the south end of Aberfeldy Street where marine engineers congregate or the Great Eastern [pub still exists] which is a meeting place of ship captains or ship masters of every nation. The Great Eastern Hotel is at the corner of the East and West India Docks and has 10 or 11 separate entrances.

Down the West India Dock Road there are 5 large Public houses just opposite the Dock entrance; one of which that nearest the Dock - sends in a man with a barrel to sell beer to the Dockers so that they may not have far to go to get a glass. Had the men to go farther a great many would never come back. A prosecution is now pending against the Dock company for allowing beer to be sold on its premises without a license.

On the S.W. side of the West india Dock Road are three poor beerhouses with a very bad name. The resorts of prostitutes. Their tenants must make their living some other way than in that of selling beer.

Poplar High Street has a large number of licensed houses whose presence is accounted for by the fact that it was formerly a noted street market. After the costers removed their barrows to Chrisp Street the prosperity of the High Street was gone. The houses there must have hard work to keep going. One of two licenses have been given up in order to get a grant of a license elsewhere. Those that remain cater rather more for the stranger than the native so that the amount of drink in the neighbourhood can only be partially gauged by the number of houses in the street.

The Isle of Dogs has also to provide for the daily wants of a much larger number than live there. It also contributes its quota to the drinkers in Chrisp Street in Poplar. On Saturday nights great numbers go up there to do their shopping. Considering the lack of other forms of entertainment there are not many houses in the Island. But many of those that are there are large.

The nature of the demand in the residential portion of Bow has already been spoken of. The South East corner is very different from the rest. In character it goes with the poor bit of Bromley which lies to the north of the London. Tilbury and Southend railway. As a whole it is poor and rough: beerhouses and public houses are pretty thickly scattered. On Saturday nights the closing hour is half an hour later in Bow than it is in Stratford just across the bridge. Hence many come over on Saturday evenings at 11 PM when their own houses are shut and pass the exra half hour in the 3 fully licensed publics and two Beer houses just on the west side of Bow bridge. This influx from Stratford is a marked feature of Saturday evenings in East Bow. The East End of the Bow Road has several shops which keep open late. To a certain extent it is the market street of the quarter.

In Old Ford the houses cluster most thickly - beer, public and grocers - in the Roman Road which is one of the great market streets of East London. The houses here are larger and more brightly decorated than those in the Old Ford Road.

In the outlying portions of Old Ford namely the Monier Road District and hackney Wick (South of the G.E.R.) there are a large number of off ber licenses. In Monier Road there are nothing but them. The police only speak of this as a poor rough district which is seldom visited by them. It would be interesting to know from the clergy their opinion of this off-license policy.

Talk with Inspector Flanagan
Sep 21 1897
General police questions with regard to the Dalston subdivsion of the J Division. Talk with Ispector Flanagan at the Dalston police Station, Dalston Lane.
Booth B347, pp163-185

With respect to Public Houses. A man before he is granted a license has to put in an application to the police, state who he is, where he lives and what he has been doing. He has further to procure two references as to character. This done the police go to the two references and take their testimony. Naturally they have to accept what the two say even though they may have their suspicions that the would-be publican is not so desirable a person as he is made out to be. Undoubtedly, Flanagan said, undesirable people do become publicans because they are able to square their referees before the police see them. (But it is questionable whether it would be better to place any more power in the hands of the police by allowing them to use their own judgment as to an applicants fitness.) Every class of man becomes a publican. The better sort as a rule go to the fully-licensed houses, the rougher to the beerhouses. There are regular transfer days for licenses. If a man takes a house b! efore one of these days he has to apply to a magistrate for a protective license. Then he is said to be "Under protection". At transfer day he applies for a full license and if his conduct has been satisfactory meanwhile, he is allowed the magistrate´s certificate without which he cannot obtain an excise license. The excise license is obtained from the Inland Revenue and is a permit to sell.

The value of licensed houses has gone up greatly of late years. It is a mystery now how they pay their way ehwn one considers the prices for them. Flanagan put the extremes in this Division for a fully licensed house as lying between £40,000 and £5,000 or £6,000. An example of a house worth the first is the [blank space] at the corner of Kingsland Road and Dalston Lane. A house lately sold for between £6,000 and £7,000 is that at the corner of the Forest Road and Queen´s Road.

The test of the worth of a house is the amount of beer and spirits sold. lately the prices of houses has been so high that men with local knowledge have made it their business to buy houses "work them up" and then sell them to the Brewers or anyone else who will buy them. There is one "Dyke" who is known for this in the district. He it was who first had the house mentioned above at the corner of Forest Road and Queen´s Road. Then he sold it to a local newsvendor. The newsvendor has just broken and the house has been resold for between £6,000 and £7,000. The bankrupt has returned to his newspapers. There was no reason for the newsvendor failing, he was a local man and knew the neighbourhood. There is some knavery in working up a house, but Flanagan did not know in what it consisted. Carter in Poplar spoke once or twice of men pouring away beer into the drains in order toshew a large consumption. The greater the consumption the greater the capital value of the house.

Women´s drinking has certainly increased whereas men´s has if anything has diminished. Men drink beer but women more often spirits. It is beer upon which the working man gets drunk. Factory girls drink but it is more often the young married woman and middle aged women who indulge too much. It is in these latter that Flanagan has noticed the increase; not by any means only among the women of the poor, it is more noticeable among what would be the "middle class of a district like this". They have no shame at going into a public house either during or after their shopping, between 4 and 65 of an afternoon are their hours. Grocers licenses have not had much to do with it because it is away from home that the women indulge. In this district there is nothing in the allegation that women buy spirits and charge them to groceries to their husbands accounts. "Why should they? It is the immediate stimulus they want and they have no shame at going into a public house."

The Houses known popularly as "cow-sheds" in the Dalston subdivision are
1). The Kings Arms on the East side of the Kingsland High Street just a little north of Dalston Lane. [The pub still exists: 18 Kingsland High Street, Dalston, E8 2JP, phone: 020 7923 4197,]
2). The "Bull" just opposite iy which is now being rebuilt
3). The Tyson Arms in the Dalston Lane opposite the north end of the Mayfield Road.
The first two are in the market centre of the district and the third not far off it. The Tyson Arms is not doing quite so well as it used to and its owners are anxious to sell if for £17,000

Flanagan sees no harm in children being sent to fetch beer. It is not the children who sip the beer when they come out but the women. He has over and over again noticed this. Since 1894, by a police order from headquarters, it has been an indictable offence to give children sweets when they come to fetch the family beer away. He warns each publican of this as he gets his license and has only had one case of it since he has beeh here. Speaking generally the beerhouses are the chief offenders in this way the keeper of a public house dare not do it. It means so much to them to have their license endorsed.

Not that licenses are often endorsed. Magistrates are very chary of doing it. An endorsement always means an appeal now-a-days. Appeals go before quarter sessions who may veto a magistrates decision. Magistrates don´t like this at all, especially at the hands of the quarter sessional magistrate. Quarter session JP´s "are a very pettifogging body".

There are three sets of licensing magistrates concerned in the Dalston subdivision.
1). the Tower body
2). the Stoke Newington body
3). the Highbury body.
The Tower magistrates will allow a publican to hold more than one license saying that a man who has many will be more careful that they are all looked after because damage to one will naturally affect the reputation of the lot in their eyes when they have to consider renewals. And they argue that a man who has already two or 3 well kept houses is more likely to see that a fourth of fifth is also well-kept than a new man altogether. The Highbury body says no, no man shall have more than one house under his care because no man can properly look after more than one house. The result being that there is a deal of hard swearing among would-be publicans in their division and men of straw are put up to take the oath. "With regard to this swearing business there seems to be nowhere any notion of morality among publicans." The Stoke Newington body does not care, has no principles or rule on the matter at all.

With regard to the receipt of drink by constables on duty, it is an offence that is very severely punished and if a man is caught red-handed his character is damaged forever. He is fined a weeks pay and his chance of promotion or at any rate of being drafted into the reserve is practically nil. Nevertheless it is pretty generally done though not so much in this district as in others. Men have even complained to him that the publicans won´t serve themwhen they ask them to. "I know I am considered a pretty hard nail by publicans but it works for the best in the end. I warn them when they first start that they will have no mercy if they offend, and if they do offend it´s no mercy that they get at my hands. A man who has had his two half pints at closing time is brisk enough for an hour or two but after that he gets drowsy he is no longer properly fit. A custom has grown up in this district in consequence. The publican gives the man 1/- or two shillings per week instead which at! any rate leaves him with his wits about him. The publicans will pay something just in the same way as they always give a cigaror a packet of tobacco to any constable whom they have summoned to eject a drunken man. I have told them often that the police are bound to come for nothing, but they prefer to do it." The publicans are human and the police are human.

The street walkers (women) don´t give anything to the police. They are for the most part too poor a class. But the brothels do; the only large sums that are givencome from bawdy houses. The police could instigate proceedings against such places if they liked but they have orders from headquarters not to do so. Others may prosecute, then they will watch the house if requested and may be summoned as witnesses: but they won´t take the initiative.
(The good things that come in this way seem to be evenly distributed amongst the force because later on Flanagan stated that no man was allowed to be on one beat for more than a month at a time nor allowed to come on the same beat within a twelve-month.)

Betting is not largely carried on in the Public Houses. The betting men are known by sight and when they see them about the police can pretty well tell which houses are the offenders. Prosecutions against them are generally the result of orders from headquarters. Complaint is made by anonymous letters, that is the general thing in complaints of this class, and "curiously enough they are nearly always sent direct to Scotland Yard so that our orders to prosecute or watch come from there in the first instance." Then there is a fair amount of betting in the streets, generally between the hours of 12 and 2 ie the dinner hour. A magistrate can only impose a fine of £5 and that is not heavy enough to deter. One man has already been convicted 3 times this year; he stands at the corner of Dalston Lane behind the police station. Last time he said"What´s the good of carrying me off to fine me £5, you know well enough that it´s not me but my guvnor that pays and I shall be at it again, ! but what I do mind is the indignity of your leading me through the streets between two officers, couldn´t you manage it in the evening or down a back way?"
"You must change the people a bit before you´ll stop betting" said Flanagan "police orders won´t do it."

Very little is now done in the way of waking men up of a morning. "More´s the pity it´s a very nice little bit of business that is gone." Night watchmen or men who make it their business are now employed instead. Why? "Well I think it´s the fault of giving beer to the police about closing time, they get drowsy and forget to call men." The public have lost their confidence in the police as early callers.

Undoubtedly there might be more complaints and convictions for serving drunken men than there are. But it is a difficult thing to be sure of. A man is almost always allowed to go home without interference even though drunk if he can manage it either by himself of with the help of a friend. But he must not make too much noise or be disorderly and collect a crowd in doing so. Then you may run your man in for being drunk and get him convicted but it is hard to get evidence that he has been served while actually drunk. Those in the bar at the time are very unwilling to give evidence, besides a man may be right enough inside and not aware he has had too much until he gets into the air outside. Asked whether having to be up early at the police court the next morning had anything to do with police unwillingness Flanagan said it had certainly because a man on a night beat would lose some hours of his proper sleep while attending to the case. It is also inconvenient to his superiors ! to have a man away from his duty for he has very often to attend several mornings at the court. The constable uses his discression about running in drunken men and complaints against publicans, a little more on the negative side than perhaps he should do.

Interview with Superintendent Weston
Nov 11th.
Sep 27 1897
B347 pp144-161
Interview with Superintendent Weston at the Bethnal Green Police station, chief of J Division. Supt. Weston is a big fat man who has risen from the raanks; very anxious to give all assistance possible, said that it was Sir Ward Bradford´s special wish that the best men be placed at Mr. Booth´s disposition.

With regard to the character of the men who are publicans. "There are all sorts. You will generally find that the publican is of the same class as those he serves." The best men are in the largest houses, the largest houses are generally in the hands of the Brewers or companies who put men into them as their paid servants. In the case where a house is owned by a large company you will find that the publican is of a class above those he serves but these are practically the only exceptions to the rule stated above.

Mr. Weston does not approve of the system of allowing companies to own houses. The license is by law supposed to be the man that has the chief interest in the business lives in the house, manages it. Where a company holds many houses the license is granted to a man of straw, while for rating purposes the actual conductor of the house is put forward. This leads to great confusion. A year ago the police tried to make an enquiry as to the actual value of houses in order to help the rating authorities. But they were baffled. These big companies always manage to turn what was a matter of common sense into a question of law: they pay the best lawyers and that means that the police have to do so too and cases are dragged out at length. It was impossible to press home the charge of divided ownership so they dropped it. It was hoped that the Licensing Commission would lead to a revision of the law "but they do not seem to be taking evidence on this point".

Although he disapproved of ownership by companies Mr. Weston admitted that the houses held in this way were the best managed. The Tower licensing magistrate who grant the licenses in his division (ie the greater number of them) approve of plural ownership saying that a man or a company who has a great stake will not risk its existence by bad management, also that a man who manages one house well will be the more likely to manage two houses well than an untried

The market value of houses has so much gone up in the last two or 3 years that no house would stand being rated at its full market value. A house near the police station he quoted as an example. Three years ago a man who paid £12,000 for it failed because the business was not large enough, since then it has been sold for £25,000. Rates in Bethnal Green are 6/- in the pound. Houses are now at a fictitious value; in Mr. Weston´s opinion, they have reached their high-water mark.

The small houses are the worst conducted and most difficult to deal with. "Say a man has £500 of his own, the brewe advances him £1000, this is the general thing, he must make it pay somehow or other." In order to pay, his customers must drink and be shielded from police interference. These men have a private room at the back into which they put the drunk and disorderly and keep them there until they are sober. It is impossible for the police to enter into the private rooms of a man´s house even if they suspect that drunken men lie hidden there.

Brewers are very hard upon small men. He has known many a man ruined by spending all his own money on interest on the brewer´s loan and when that was done finding that the brewer had sold the house over his headto a new man, so that he is turned out in the street penniless.

There´s not much harm in sending children to fetch beer. "Absolutely none in this district." The language and atmosphere is no worse in a public house than what they hear at home. Besides it would not prevent children frequenting the houses. "They look upon them as a sort of paradise." It is always to them that they are taken by their parents for a cake or sweets, they go there from babyhood. To send them to fetch a pint of beer is no demoralisation for them or introduction to anything new and harmful. In better class districts where parents do not frequent the public house it would probably be better not to send the children. Children always sip the beer they are sent to fetch, he has noticed it scores of times and often wonders that any of it reaches home but he does not think they acquire their taste for beer in this way.

The number of licensed house in the J Division has practically been stationary for a number of years. In point of fact it has slightly decreased. The exact decrease for London could be obtained at Scotland Yard. Every year the superintendents send it in but it is not published.

For a polieman to be served drink while on duty is a dire offence. 23 years ago when he first entered the service drunkenness was not thought much of, a constable was fined 5% and that was all. Now it is very different and for a man to be found drunk practically destroys all chance of his promotion. So stringent is the punishment taht Mr. Weston thinks constables rarelt dare offend. Sometimes the publicans themselves complain, only the other day a publican in a large house was suspicious of a boy who had been sent to fetch a pint of beer, he told his little girl to follow the boy and see where the beer went to, the girl followed, saw the boy put down the pot in a corner and afterwards saw a policeman come up and take it, she reported to her father. Her father reported it to Mr. Weston and the constable has now been transferred to another part of London and his pay cut down.

Mr. Weston does not think that the police are now paid money instead. Even to obtain a loan from a publican is a police offence.

Publicans in small houses are more often local men than not. In larger houses they are men of more capital and come from a distance. It is easier for a man from a distance to start straight and to keep straight, he is not so tied by the claims of personal acquaintance with his customers.

It would be much easier to obtain convictions against houses and individuals if the magistrates took a commonsense view of drunkenness. It is not that they are afraid of having their decisions upset on appeal to quarter sessions. The Justices of the peace who make up the bench at quarter sessions are generally easy going retired gentlemen among whom you will not find more than one strong man. A stipendiary magistrate is generally a strong man and constant practice has given him a thorough knowledge of his business. Therefore it is not fear that restrains his granting convictions. It is rather the absence of any rule. Some say the publican must be told not to serve a drunken man and warned by the police as he enters the house, while with others it is enough that the publican has been warned at the time his license is renewed. Between the two the drunken man escapes. Again magistrates will not accept the word of a constable that a man was drunk; they must have witnesses and wi! tnesses are hard to find against a drunken man. In practice it comes to the result that men are only taken up when drunk and disorderly and disorderliness is the complaint on which they are convicted rather than drunkenness. Hence the police are deprived of the possibility of following up tha case against the publican.

The practice of the police is pretty well uniform as to the treatment of drunken persons and Mr. Weston referred me to the evidence of Supt. Smith given before the Licensing Commission.

Men serve behind the bar in all but showy neighbourhoods.

With regard to women´s drinking there could hardly be any increase in Bethnal Green. It always had been and still was noted for it. Here they drink like men not as a relaxation but asa necessity or habit. They are most of them working women and they go across to the public house not to sit there and talk but to take their half pint and then go back to work agaian. In Chelsea and the Brompton Road where Mr. Weston was for many years on duty you see the beeter dressed women turning in to the public house after their shopping. Here it is not so and the fact that the lower classes of labourers wives and daughters so largely frequent public houses means that they are "no class" for the wives and daughters of artisansor any who are respectably dressed and consider their position in society above that of labourers.
Mr. Weston thinks that there has been a decided increase in women´s drinking in the West End but does not think that it amounts to anything in the East. (He takes Bethnal Green as typical of the East.) The increase in the West is not as far as he knows connected with the granting of grocers licenses.

He spoke highly of Flanagan: said he considered him the best police officer he had ever met. The only complaint against him was that he was "too opinionated". This made him unpopular in one district where a dead set was made against him by some ofhis fellow officers, an enquiry followed, Flanagan came out of it perfectly clean but the fact of there having been a row somewhat unfairly has stood in the way of his further promotion.

Walk with inspector Flanagan
September 9 1897
B347 pp120-123
Walk with inspector Flanagan.

Speaking of women´s drinking Flanagan said that the King´s Arms was the "cowshed" par excellence of the district. The King´s Arms is in the High Street, it is an old establihed house and has lately been done up. This was confirmed by Mr. Young one of the guardians for the parish who has a perambulator shop nearly opposite. He said 11 AM and between 6 and 8 PM were the great hours for women´s drinking. All classes go in, no one seems in the least to mind being seen. Their tipple is gin. He has watched a butchers stall just opposite and noticed that every buyer of a joint was taken off there for a drink. Monday is the chief cowshed day. Sometimes in a poor street you will hear an old woman say to a young married woman "Come along my dear, you just put your husbands clothes away, he will never find it out, besides every one does it." That is how the women of the lower classes begin drinking. As factory girls they don´t indulge themselves at all regularly in this way.

In the lower middle classes he thinks the drinking habit is started in the courting days. A young man now always takes his young woman into a public house, so does the young married man. Young married couples will often spend many hours of the evening at the public house, it is dull at home but bright and amusing out. Then the taste is acquired which afterwards becomes a habit.

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