THE BOAR'S HEAD, HAMPTON LUCY, WARWICK
Population of Parish
ONE of the first persons in Great Britain to attempt an
experiment upon " Gothenburg " lines was the Rev.
Osbert Mordaunt, Rector of Hampton Lucy, Warwick. On his
appointment to the parish a quarter of a century ago, Mr.
Mordaunt found himself sole trustee of a village inn which
had belonged to the former incumbent, but had been bequeathed
by him to his successors in trust for the parish.(The
rent of the inn is devoted to the payment of the organist's
salary. ) The population of the parish was small and
much scattered; but as the inn was the only licensed house
in the parishthe nearest public-house being two miles
awayMr. Mordaunt determined upon an experiment upon
the general lines of the Gothenburg system, the main principles
of the experiment to be: (1) the purity of the liquor solda
point upon which Mr. Mordaunt lays great emphasis; and (2)
that "the person who sells the beer must have no interest
in the profits. He must merely be a dispenser."
In practice, and as a matter of convenience, the rector
has always appointed one of his own servantsa gardener
or a coachmanas manager. He is allowed the house rent
free and a small sum for management, and receives whatever
profits he can make upon temperance drinks and food. He
is also allowed to take " the profits upon the stablings,
such as they are." The sale of food is small.
No spirits are sold, the spirit licence having been abolished
when the experiment was begun. A certain quantity of spirits
is, however, brought into the village by the grocers' carts.
The abolition of the spirit licence was at first extremely
unpopular, but complaints are not often made now. It should
be added that to meet cases of emergency where the doctor
orders spirits, the rector is always willing to supply them
gratuitously from his own home. Mr. Mordaunt is clearly
of opinion that the abolition of the spirit licence has
lessened the consumption of spirits in the village. "
People have no opportunity now," he says, " of
going to the public-house and asking for threepenny-worth
or sixpenny-worth of gin or brandy, or whatever they want.
I am certain, for instance, amongst women that that kind
of thing has ceased altogether."
The usual public-house hours are observed, and no limit
as to the quantity supplied to sober people is ever attempted.
No one, however, is allowed to be served who shows any sign
of drunkenness. " If anyone is decidedly drunk,"
said the rector in his evidence before the Royal Commission
on Liquor Licensing Laws, in June, 1898, "I expect
to be informed. I am hardly ever told of a case now. I admit
this may sometimes happen, that a man will come in the worse
for liquor who has been, perhaps, to market or to town somewhere,
and who comes in and possibly gets served with some beer
before his condition is found out. We sometimes get the
credit for having made such a person drunk, and even that
Sales on credit are absolutely forbidden.
Nearly all the profits go back to the parish in some shape
or other to assist the charities. For instance, a "
harvest home" is given to the entire parish every year,
chiefly out of the profits of the public-house. ("About
two years' profits were once devoted to the sinking of wells
and erection of pumps in various places, the water supply
being improved at the expense of the beer.")
On being asked if he had ever felt any temptation to increase
the profits for the sake of conferring a general benefit
on the parish, the rector replied: " Oh, no! I never
felt any inclination to do that at all." Asked, further,
if he could conceive of such a temptation existing, he replied:
" I can conceive it, but not in anyone's mind who was
really interested in the sobriety of the people."
Speaking of the general results of the experiment, in a
statement published a few years back, Mr. Mordaunt says
: " I have reason to believe that on account of the
liquor being pure and wholesome, and therefore satisfying,
much less is consumed than formerly. Low wages may have
had something to do with a decrease of consumption. But
when wages were higher, some years ago, I noticed that less
beer was purchased with a good quality of liquor, although
the price remained the same. Before the 1 public' changed
hands perhaps drunkenness was no worse here than in many
places; but cases were common enough. I am thankful to say
now they are comparatively rare, and seldom occur, except
people have come in from other places the worse for liquor,
and have been accidentally served with more."
In his evidence before the Royal Commission, in June, 1898,
the rector said: " I cannot say that there is never
any drunkenness, but I think I can safely say that drunkenness
is reduced to a minimum. We very rarely have a case of drunkenness,
and hardly ever in connection with the public-house."
In concluding his evidence before the Commission, Mr. Mordaunt
was asked whether the improvement in the parish was not
rather due to the elimination of spirits than to the special
virtue of the management ? And he replied: " It may
be partly due to that, no doubt. It is chiefly due to drinking
not being encouraged." He added: " Perhaps there
is more done parochially than there used to be. For instance,
I established a reading-room some time ago for young men.
They sit there and spend a good deal of their time in the
winter evenings in these reading-rooms. That has a negative
good influence, and I hope keeps them out of the public-house."
In summing up elsewhere (Popular Control of the Liquor
Traffic: Two Successful English Experiments, p. 11.)
the results of his experience, Mr. Mordaunt says: "
My experience leads me to the following conclusions:
" 1. Temperance reformers do not agitate sufficiently
against the evils of adulteration, or, to say the least,
against the injury caused to the community by the sale of
unwholesome liquor. . . . Certain I am that it is not pure
beer, but the mixture sold under the name, which is a potent
cause of drunkenness and of the craving for drink amongst
thousands who scarcely ever touch spirits. . . .
" 2. There are many villages and country towns in
which property is not divided, where the public-house or
houses belong to one squire or landlord. Why should not
such proprietors take the matter into their own handsthis
could be done with very little trouble to themselvesand
so promote health and sobriety amongst their people ? .
. . . The enormous number of public-houses now in the hands
of the brewers must, of course, make a change difficult
or impossible for many landlords who might be willing to
make it. I only plead in such cases for my system to be
attempted as soon as the emancipation of the ' public' is
possible. . . .
" 3. As regards profit and loss, the business which
has paid the publican may be less profitable, but certainly
no loss, to the landlord. I am told that it can hardly be
made to answer if less business than to the amount of £300
per annum is done. My own figures seem to show that at £300
there is some profit, and that at a figure considerably
below this there might be no loss."
Mr. Mordaunt adds: " I am not prepared to say anything
very definite by way of advising an experiment of this kind
being tried in the face of opposition from other ' publics,'
over which a landlord may have no control. But I am very
much inclined to think that it would answer, even under
such circumstances, simply because the really moderate drinkers
(who are still, let us hope, in a majority) would soon discover
where they could get the most wholesome return for their
money, besides knowing that the manager had no interest
whatever in encouraging them to drink or in selling cheap
stuff for the sake of extra profit."
In the same pamphlet, however, Mr. Mordaunt states that,
as " the possessor of a monopoly undisturbed,"
he has " succeeded with the system pursued better than
could have been expected were there other houses to contend
with"; and this conclusion seems to be fully borne
out by the history of similar experiments elsewhere. Experience
in all such experiments points conclusively to the fact
that only limited and imperfect results can be obtained
when there is not a complete monopoly of the local traffic.