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British Gothenburg Experiments


THE first important attempt to apply some of the essential principles of the Gothenburg system to the management of the retail liquor traffic in this country was made by the People's Refreshment-House Association, Limited. This Association was formed in 1896, with the Bishop of Chester as chairman of the executive council, and, from small beginnings, it has steadily extended its operations until it has now (July, 1901) eighteen houses under its management. So far its operations have been confined to the rural districts, but this has been the result of accident rather than of design, and the Association proposes, as opportunity offers, to acquire possession of town houses also.

According to its published statements, the aim of the Association is "to give wider facilities for the adoption of the system of public-house management, with limited profits, already successfully at work in various parts of the United Kingdom.

"With this object, it seeks to lease existing public-houses, to acquire new licences at places where the growth of the population obliges the licensing magistrates to create new ones, and to establish canteens and refreshment-bars where required on large public works, at collieries, and elsewhere."

The salient features of the system introduced into the public-houses managed by the Association are set forth as follows:

(a) In order to remove all temptation to the manager to push the sale of intoxicants, he is paid a fixed salary, and is allowed no profit whatever on the sale of alcoholic drinks.

(b) On the other hand, to make it to his interest to sell non-intoxicants in preference to beer and spirits, he is allowed a profit on all trade in food and non-alcoholics.

(c) To enable the customer to get tea, coffee, temperance drinks, or light refreshments just as easily as beer or spirits, these are made readily accessible at the bars, and are served promptly. In this way the beer and spirit trade is deposed from the objectionable prominence into which, from motives of profit, it is pushed in the ordinary public-house, the aim of the Association being to maintain the house in a general sense as a public-house, but to conduct the trade on the lines of a respectable house of refreshment at popular prices instead of that of a mere drinking-bar.

(d) To guard against the evils of bad liquor, great care is taken that everything supplied is of the best quality.

The capital which is from time to time required to carry on the Association's increasing business is offered for subscription to the public in the form of £1 shares, entitled to a dividend out of profits at a rate not exceeding 5 per cent, per annum, after payment of which and making provision for a reserve fund, the surplus profit is devoted to objects of public utility, local or general, as the president and vice-presidents in consultation with the council may determine. The dividend is not cumulative.

The rules of the Association provide:

  1. That the business of the Association shall be managed by a council consisting of not more than fifteen persons, who shall be elected from a list of persons nominated by the shareholders.
  2. That any officer or council-man may be removed from office by a majority of two-thirds of the members voting at a special general meeting called for that purpose.
  3. That no member, other than a registered society, shall hold an interest exceeding £200 in the shares of the Association.
  4. That each member shall have one vote only in respect of the share or shares held by him.

Major Craufurd, who co-operated with the Bishop of Chester in the formation of the Association, in a letter to the present writers, dated July 7th, 1901, says in respect of this rule: " My idea in framing the rule was to safeguard the voting power getting into the hands of interested parties, who might buy up shares and parcel them out in blocks of two hundred to their nominees. This one shareholder one vote plan, which would apply to a poll as well as to meetings, would, it was thought, prevent this."

The following is a complete list of the inns now under the control of the Association. It will be noticed that they are widely distributed over the country :

Date acquired
Name of House Locality
Sparkford Inn Sparkford, Somerset
Meynell Ingram Arms Hoar Cross, Burton-on-Trent
The Green Man Tunstall, Wickliam Market
Red Lion Inn Broad Clyst, Exeter
Rose and Crown Thorney, Peterborough
Plymstock Inn Plymstock, Plymouth
Jubilee Inn Flax Bourton, Bristol
Mermaid Inn Wightwick, Wolverhampton
Royal Oak Ramsden, Charlbury
Plume of Feathers Sherborne, Dorset
Dog and Doublet Sandon, Stafford
Failand Inn Failand, Bristol
Buck's Arms Blickling, Aylsham
Norfolk Hero Stanhoe, Norfolk
Wharf Inn Nuneaton, Warwickshire
Rose and Portcullis Butleigh, Somerset
Broad Oak Strelley, Notts
Carnarvon Arms Tiversall, Notts

The report of the Association for 1900 shows that there was a net profit on the last year's working of £'1,107 11s. (or, with the amount carried forward in the previous year, of £1,166 6s. 4d.). Of this amount £699 Is, lid. went to meet the expenses of the central office ; £20 17s. Id. for legal expenses, interest on manager's guarantees, and depreciation of office furniture; £225 6s. 4<i. was devoted to the payment of dividends; £65 was carried to reserve, and £56 Is. was carried forward; leaving the sum of £100 to be "distributed for public utility."

The net profit on capital (£4,993) was 22 per cent (The present capital of the Association is £8,742). Inasmuch as the houses managed by the Association are for the most part small, consisting almost exclusively of village inns, situated in thinly peopled districts where the local sales are small and the expenses of management (including reconstruction and repairs) often unusually heavy, this statement of profits affords useful evidence of the lucrative nature of the traffic and of the large sums that will be available for wise public purposes when the system of monopoly, either by companies or by direct municipal action, is made possible by law. It remains true, however, that on the purely commercial side the Association is at a disadvantage by the fact that its operations are confined to the rural districts. Public-house profits are determined by the volume of trade done, and in this respect there can be no comparison between a rural and an urban trade. The fact that no more than 9 per cent, of the net profits is as yet available for purposes of " public utility" is due to the somewhat heavy expenses of the central office, which, "being those of a propagandist body operating over a very large area, are much in excess of the requirements of a purely commercial undertaking." The objects to which this portion of the surplus profits is appropriated are described later in this chapter..

In the actual work of management a large measure of freedom is necessarily left to the local manager, who, in the official instructions issued by the central executive, is asked " to regard himself as an agent in the cause of temperance and good behaviour, who by the general tone and system of management of his house will make it a place where recreation and social intercourse of a harmless nature may be enjoyed, and where refreshments of the best quality may be obtained under conditions that encourage temperance."

There are no special rules or restrictions as in Norway and Sweden, the Executive holding that "to subject per-uiis using a licensed house to rules and restrictions other than those prescribed by law or sanctioned by the licensing authorities would be an infringement of the rights and freedom of the public for whose convenience the licence was originally granted and is yearly renewed." In a general way, and apart from the prominence given to the sale of food and non-intoxicants and the absence of all inducement to push the sale of alcoholic drinks, it may be said that the method of management is closely similar to that of an ordinary well-conducted village inn. By the courtesy of the Secretary of the Association (Captain Boehmer) the present writers have had an opportunity of personally inspecting several of the houses managed by the Association, and a brief description of these, which are said to be typical, may be of interest as illustrating the methods and aims of the Association.


Sparkford Inn
Date when acquired by Association
Population of Village
October, 1897
Between 200 and 300

In some respects the Sparkford Inn furnishes the most interesting and useful illustration of the methods of the Association. It was the first inn acquired by the Association, and has been under their direct control since October, 1897, or nearly a year longer than any other house. It is situated on the main road, near to the Great Western station at Sparkford, but away from the village proper, which is exceedingly small and contains but one shop—a small general store.

The house is fully licensed, and has a complete monopoly of the local trade, the next nearest licensed house being more than a mile away. The local trade is, however, small, and quite inadequate to support the inn, which depends mainly upon passing traffic and other extra-local trade. The fact that the house is situated on the main cycle road attracts to it many cyclists and tourists, while at the back of the inn is a large stockyard where sales of stock are held every fortnight. It is from these sources that the main custom of the house springs.

The, house itself, which, like all the other houses managed by the Association, is rented and not owned, is a picturesque, old-fashioned country inn, with rose-trees in front, a garden at the side, and orchard, stock-yard, stables, etc., at the rear. The inn and garden cover slightly more than an acre of ground, while the orchard and stock-yard comprise about 4 1/2 acres.

The bar proper is a small room 15 ft. by 10 ft., fitted with a table and a few chairs, and used chiefly by the farmers and other local customers of the " better class." Immediately adjoining this is the smoke-room, 20 ft. by 12 ft., which has a stone floor and, like the bar is furnished with a table and chairs. This is used by the villagers generally. The tap-room is a much plainer room. It has the flag-stone floor common to such rooms, and is furnished with rather rough benches, tables, and a few chairs. It is used only in the daytime, and is chiefly frequented by the field labourers, drovers, etc. It measures about 17 ft. by 16 ft. On the other side of the house, and a little away from the bar, is what is called the commercial-room, a bright, clean room, about 18 ft. by 15 ft., furnished with a long table, "Windsor" chairs, and a few pictures. It is here that teas and other refreshments of a similar character are generally served.

Upstairs there are six bedrooms. Two of these belong to the Association and are let out to visitors at two shillings per night (one-half of this charge going to the Association and the other half being credited to the manager). The rooms are simply furnished, but are scrupulously clean and comfortable. The other four bedrooms belong to the manager and his family.

There is also an upstairs parlour or sitting-room, which belongs to the manager, but is used on occasion as a ladies' tea-room or as a sitting-room for summer visitors.

The fittings throughout are simple but sufficient, and the scrupulous cleanliness which everywhere prevails reflects great credit upon the manager and his wife.

The public-house trade proper is of a general kind, a varied stock of liquors being kept, while there is also a large trade in cider, the quantity of cider sold amounting to about one-fourth of the total sales of " draught" beers. All liquors are of the best quality, and the age of the spirits sold is plainly marked upon the label attached to each bottle. The "off" sale is small, amounting on an average to no more than a dozen jugs of cider or beer a day. No credit is given, nor is any attempt made to push the sale of intoxicants. There are no games or other adventitious attractions. The Association did at one time propose to build a skittle-alley, but subsequently decided not to do so. In the judgment of the present writers it was well advised in its later decision. It is noteworthy that no advertisement of alcoholic liquors is allowed in the bar or in any of the rooms. On the other hand, advertisements of tea, coffee, and other temperance drinks are conspicuously placed in all the passages and rooms, and the sale of these appears to be encouraged in every possible way. Ordinary meals and other light refreshments are also easily procurable. This free advertisement and ready supply of food and non-intoxicants of a good quality is a conspicuous feature of the management, but it probably represents all that an ordinary manager is able to accomplish in the way of counteracting the sale of intoxicants. In the bar trade proper it would seem to be impossible in a direct way to "push" the sale of non-intoxicants. The customer, it is said, comes in " with his order on his lips," and the manager cannot, when the order for beer or whisky is given, suggest that the customer should take lemonade instead. In this strict sense there are obvious limits to the " pushing " of non-intoxicants ; but it is clear that in less aggressive ways the sale of such drinks can easily be encouraged, and this the Association, through its managers, evidently seeks to do.

The manager is paid a fixed salary, with allowances for fuel, lighting, etc., and he also receives the whole of the profits on food and two-thirds of the profits on the sale of mineral waters. He further receives all profits on cigarettes and tobacco, the Association reserving to itself the profits on cigars.

There are no special regulations or restrictions. In such matters as the hours of sale, Sunday sale, and the serving of children, the Association adheres strictly to the provisions of the licensing law. In other matters reliance is placed on the manager's discretion. There is no express limit as to the quantity of liquor which a customer may purchase, the practice being to supply whatever is asked for in the ordinary way. The manager stated that in cases where he thought a man had had enough it was his practice to " put up his finger" as a warning sign, and also as a hint of his refusal to serve more.

The extent to which the locality benefits from the profits of this house is largely determined by the result of the Association's operations as a whole. Not all of its houses are equally remunerative. In some cases where the expenditure for alterations and repairs has been exceptionally heavy, the trading for the first few months or even for the first year may show an actual loss, and in dividing its profits the Association is bound to recoup itself for such loss out of the profits of the more prosperous inns. In this way it happens that the grants assigned to objects of " public utility " in Sparkford have hitherto borne no direct relation to the profits earned in Sparkford. The effect of this arrangement is largely to diminish the direct interest of the community in the local sales, and from this point of view it is to be commended. So far the grants made for local purposes have not been large. Last year, when the profits for 1899 were -disposed of, a sum of £15 was allotted to Sparkford, and this sum was spent in improving the water supply of the village. This year a sum of £14 has been voted out of the profits for 1900, the grant being slightly less than in the previous year, although the profits earned in Sparkford were larger. The grant has this year been assigned to the Sparkford school. The usual procedure is for the Council of the Association to notify the sum which it proposes to allot to the locality. A village meeting is then called and a resolution passed fixing the object or objects to be benefited. This resolution is forwarded to the Secretary of the Association by the chairman of the meeting, and a cheque is at once sent.


In summing up the general impression produced by our visit to the Sparkford inn, it may be said at once that the aim of the house is not so much to restrict sales as to regulate the conditions under which such sales are made, and especially to secure the comfort and orderly behaviour of those frequenting the house. While alcoholic liquors are freely sold they are in no sense " pushed," and the customer has at all times a free choice of temperance drinks of a good quality.

If it be asked whether the change of management has led to diminished drinking or to a decrease of intemperance, it must be said that the natural assumption is that it has. It is generally agreed that before the Association took over the house it was neither clean nor well conducted, so that the change in these respects would seem to be marked. The entries in the visitors' book point to a very real improvement under the management of the Association, and upon a review of all the evidence it would be difficult to suppose that this has not been the case. The Rev. F. S. M. Bennett, Vicar of Portwood, Stockport, who is part owner of the inn, writing on September 4th, 1898, a year after the transfer had taken place, stated: "In my opinion the results from the temperance point of view are most admirable." Similar testimonials have been received from others.

It is nevertheless matter for disappointment that the Association has not seen its way to attempt experiments in earlier closing, and especially to discontinue Sunday sales. The position which the Association assumes in reference to these matters is frankly stated in the published statement of its methods and aims, and its reluctance to proceed in advance of the licensing law is easily to be understood and sympathised with; but the value of its experiments as object lessons in public-house reform is clearly lessened when no experiments of the kind suggested are made. In a small and isolated community such as Sparkford, where the Association has a complete monopoly of the local trade, such experiments would seem to be comparatively easy. This is especially the case in reference to Sunday sales. Such sales are at present extremely small, the bar takings amounting to no more than ten or twelve shillings for the entire day, while it is stated that there is practically no Sunday trade until after 8 p.m. It would appear, therefore, that this is distinctly a case where the Association might with advantage apply for a six days' licence.

In other respects the conduct of the house appears to be excellent. It may be added that in the village itself little provision seems to be made for the social life and recreation of the people. There is, it is true, a small reading-room in the village, but it is altogether inadequate as a contribution to the recreative needs of the place.


Date when acquired by Association
Population of Village
March, 1899
A Few Hundreds

The inn at Broad Clyst is also situated in an entirely rural district. The village proper contains but a few hundred inhabitants, but it is part of a large and scattered parish which stretches across country for a distance of seven miles and contains about two thousand inhabitants. The conditions at Broad Clyst are different in some important respects from those at Sparkford. The Association, to begin with, has no monopoly of the local sales. In addition to the " Red Lion," and only half a mile distant, is the New Inn, which until recently was a beerhouse only, but has now acquired a full licence. There is also another fully licensed house at the station, a mile and a half away. The next nearest licensed houses are two and a half miles and four miles distant respectively.

When the owner of the New Inn first applied for a full licence the Association instructed its manager to oppose, but on the last occasion, owing to a strong local feeling in favour of the application, no opposition was offered. The effect of the competition is, however, apparent.

In its structural arrangements the "Red Lion" is distinctly inferior to the inn at Sparkford. The bar proper consists of a private enclosure for those serving. In front of it is a passage leading from the main doorway, but divided into a sort of compartment by a separate door. It is here that " transients" are served.

At the side of the bar, and communicating with it, is what is called the "glass"-room. It is a cosy room, 25 ft. by 12 ft., furnished with small tables and leather-cushioned bench seats, and provided with a " polyphon," draught-board, etc. On the night of our visit it seemed to be chiefly frequented by young men. Behind the bar is a small private sitting-room. On the other side of the main passage is the tap-room, a somewhat bare and uninviting room, with whitewashed walls and a stone floor, and furnished with a table and rude wooden benches. This room seemed to be exclusively used by the village labourers, a number of whom regularly spend their evenings there ( We were, however, informed that women sometimes use the tap-room). The only games provided are draughts (when the board is not required in the "glass"-room), and " ring and peg."

In another part of the building, but on the ground floor, is the tea-room. This room, which measures about 25 ft. by 19 ft., has a separate entrance, and is brightly and pleasantly furnished with basket chairs, small tables, an overmantel, etc. It is here that cyclists and other visitors are served. The room is also let once a month to the " Young Club "—a local sick benefit society, which pays a rent of thirty shillings a year, and is said to order little drink.

Upstairs is the dining-room, a fine room, 40 ft. by 20 ft., which is used for " rent dinners." It contains a good piano. The manager and his wife would like to use the room in the winter for " smoking-concerts," etc., but the Council of the Association wisely refuses its consent.

The trade done is of a general kind, but " a lot of gin " is said to be sold. The "off" sales are said to be only "fair." Gin is sold a penny per quartern cheaper for "off" consumption, but no reduction is made on other spirits or on beers. There is a moderately large Sunday trade, the average takings amounting to about £3. Formerly the Exeter 'bus called twice on Sundays—namely at 4 p.m. and 7 p.m.—but the customers it brought were so disorderly that the manager at last refused to serve them, and the 'bus now calls at the New Inn.

There is evidently much local prejudice against the inn, especially on the part of some who formerly fie-quented it. A good deal of this prejudice appears to be either unfounded or based upon resentment against the dispossession of the former tenant, a local man. At the same time, there is evidently a strong feeling on the part of some of the villagers that the conduct of the house is not what it might be, and it must be admitted that our own observation went to show that the management was less strict than in the case of the other houses visited. In one case that came under our own notice a man left the tap-room obviously worse for liquor, but was allowed to return shortly afterwards. As he was notorious in the village for his drunken habits, the case could hardly have been an oversight.

There were also complaints that tea and other light refreshments were not always readily forthcoming. Our own visit gave us no opportunity of judging of these complaints. The proportion of temperance drinks and food sold is, however, small.

The effect of the change of management is undoubtedly less marked in Broad Clyst than elsewhere. The inn apparently does less trade than under the former management, but this is probably due less to increased restrictions than to local prejudice, and especially to the competition of the now fully licensed New Inn. It certainly does not appear that the aim of the present management is to restrict sales. The house is conducted much as an ordinary village inn is conducted, but with an evident desire on the part of the manageress and her daughter for " trade." Their motives in this are, however, apparently single, for they have absolutely no pecuniary inducement to push the sale of alcoholic liquors. The explanation is probably to be found in the fact that they are keenly sensitive to the competition of the rival inn. The force of this competition certainly tells powerfully against the Association in Broad Clyst. (We are informed by the Secretary of the Association that Sir Thomas Dyke Acland, the owner of the inn, has confessed himself well satisfied with the management of the house, and has stated that" if he had another house vacant he would offer it to the Association, although he would like to have a voice in the selection of the manager.")

The pecuniary benefit resulting to the village from the operations of the Association has not so far been great. Last year a total grant of £15 was made to the village, of which £5 was devoted to the Nursing Fund, £5 to the Clothing Club, and £5 spent on village lamps and the village green. This year (1901) a grant of £20 has been made to the village, of which £5 has been devoted to the Nursing Fund, £5 to the Clothing Club, £5 to the extinction of a debt incurred in erecting a bathing-place, and £5 has again been spent on village lamps and the village green.

Of direct counter-attractions to the public-house there are practically none. The social needs of the village are supposed to be met by a small reading-room, which is open during the six winter months only and is under the charge of the sexton. There are forty-five members, who pay a weekly subscription of one penny. The average attendance is said to be fifteen. Several of the young men who were seen in the " glass "-room of the " Eed Lion " were formerly members of the reading-room, but left owing to a disturbance. Members are now elected by ballot. We were informed that there had been but one concert in the village during the previous winter.


Date when acquired by Association
Population of Village
May, 1899
Between 200 and 300

Plymstock is a small agricultural village situated less than two miles from Plymouth, and forming part of a wide parish containing several villages, all of them at least a mile apart. Plymstock itself has a comparatively small labouring population, the village consisting chiefly of a few farmhouses and scattered villas.

The public-house is a simple country inn, small, but pleasant-looking, and scrupulously clean. It has a glass-covered porch in front which admits to a wide lobby leading to the bar. The drink is drawn at the bar, but served in either the tap-room or bar-parlour. The former is a small but cosy room, 12 ft. by 10 ft., warmed in winter by a bright fire and furnished with a table and wooden wall-seats. The bar-parlour, which is used by the farmers, is also a snug room, 15 ft. by 12 ft. Opposite the bar is the tea-room, a pleasant and bright room, furnished with chairs and small tables. This room is reserved for teas and similar refreshments.

There is one bedroom for visitors, but this is rarely used.

The inn seems to be largely used by the villagers as a social meeting-place in the evenings. There is a small reading-room in the village, but this is shortly to be superseded by a new parish-room, which the vicar, with the help of the Duke of Bedford (who owns the estate) and others, is arranging to build. This room, when ready, will be used as a social institute.

The trade done is small and of a general kind; a good deal of whisky is sold, the farmers and small gentry buying it by the bottle. The " off" sale is said to equal the "on," the former being more than usually large owing to the fact that the house has only a six days' licence (No change was made in this respect when the Association acquired the management of the house. ). No reduction in price is made for "off" sales. Light refreshments and non-alcoholic drinks are easily obtainable, but the demand for them is not great. The manager and his wife both urged that it was impossible to " push " the sale of temperance drinks, but they evidently do their best to encourage such sales, and the usual advertisements are prominently displayed.

Altogether, the management of the house appears to be admirable. While no deliberate attempt seems to be made to restrict the sales, the manager is careful to discourage intemperance, and he is especially firm in refusing to allow loafing during the day. Local testimony points clearly to a marked improvement in the conduct of the house since the Association became responsible for its management, and our own observation entirely supports this presumption. The Association has been fortunate in its choice of a manager, and it is upon the manager that the success or failure of such experiments largely turns. It is necessary also to remember that the Association has in this instance a complete monopoly of the local traffic—a fact of considerable importance in estimating its success.

We may add that the only grant from profits made to the village last year was one of £5 towards the village reading-room. This year a grant of £6 has been made towards the new parish-room.

The Eev. C. B. Collyns, Vicar of Plymstock, testifies as follows to the good influence of the new management: " I am glad to be able to tell you that the new order of things is a very great improvement on the old, and appreciated as much by the frequenters of the house as by others. I am convinced that the temperance cause is being quietly but really helped by the Association. Many of those who sat and drank by the hour under the old regime, and left the house very drunk at closing-time, now think it too respectable for them, and stay at home. Under the old management the village was often disturbed by rowdyism at night; this has quite disappeared since the Association acquired the house."


The Plume of Feathers
Date when acquired by Association
Population of Town
February, 1900

This house, prior to its acquisition by the Association, was a badly kept and somewhat disreputable place, whose evil reputation and low class of trade were serious obstacles in the way of the new management. It was also so ill-adapted for the purpose for which it was licensed that important structural alterations, involving an expenditure of more than £300, had to be undertaken by the Association before it was fit for their work. It is a low, old-fashioned building, somewhat " ramshackle " in arrangement, and apparently constructed without regard to the practical requirements of the trade.

On the ground floor is the bar proper, a room 14 ft. by 12 ft., and fitted with a table and chairs. Immediately opposite is the bar-parlour, a room 13 ft. by 12 ft., in which only a " glass" trade is done. It has the usual photographs of houses belonging to the Association and the ordinary advertisements of temperance drinks, and, like the bar, is furnished with chairs and a table. A little to the rear of this room, and approached by the central passage, is the ruder tap-room, with its stone floor and wooden benches and the customary table. It is a rather dark room, used by labourers and others during the daytime, and on Saturdays by women from the surrounding country districts, who come into Sherborne for shopping.

All beers, etc., are drawn straight "from the wood." The cellar is immediately behind the bar, at the rear of the building, and the " off" trade is supplied direct from the cellar and not from the bar. In this way children and others entering with jugs do not enter the bar, but pass direct to the cellar.

Adjoining the main building, but communicating with it, is the newly added tea-room, a very bright room, measuring 20 ft. by 13 ft., and pleasantly furnished with cane chairs, small tables, an overmantel, pictures, etc. This room has a separate entrance, and from its close proximity to the famous old Abbey (a popular resort for visitors in the summer months), it should be freely patronised for teas and other light refreshments. At present the trade in this department is small.

In the first few weeks of its management the Association encountered much prejudice and suspicion, and did very little trade. The manager, who appears to be in full sympathy with the aims of the Association, was careful from the first to discourage loafing and the loose practices that had formerly prevailed, with the result that the old customers left and others were slow to take their place. Gradually, however, the house has won its way, and the trade now done is said to compare favourably with that of other houses in the town. The Association is heavily handicapped in its experiment by the competition which it has to encounter, and the manager was fully alive to this in his statement of what was possible in the way of restrictions and reforms.

There are no less than twenty-six licensed houses (i.e. public-houses and beer-shops) in Sherborne, in addition to grocers' licences and wine and spirit stores, and this fact has to be considered in attempting any reform.

The manager pointed out that even to attempt to close earlier on Sundays would mean a loss of ordinary trade, since it would place the house at a disadvantage with other licensed houses in the town, and also revive a prejudice against the Association which it has hardly yet had time to live down. It is scarcely to be wondered at, therefore, that the result aimed at in the management of the house is general good conduct rather than definite restriction of sales. In this respect the Association can fairly claim to have succeeded. The house seems to be largely used as a place for social intercourse, but no encouragement is given to intemperate drinking, nor is it knowingly allowed. There are no games nor other adventitious attractions, and this despite the fact that skittle-alleys are provided by other publicans in the town. The " off " trade of the house is small, averaging only about twelve quarts a day. In accordance with the custom of the town, prices for "off" sales are reduced. Pale ale, for example, is sold a penny per pint cheaper for "off" consumption, and old beer, Burton, and stout a halfpenny per pint cheaper. No reduction is made in the case of cheap ale. Other houses in the town also make a reduction of one penny per gill for all spirits sold for "off" consumption, but the Association makes such a reduction in the case of gin only.

The proportion of spirits sold both for "on" and "off" consumption is not, however, great, the bulk of the trade consisting of beer and cider.

Temperance drinks are well advertised and are always readily accessible, but the demand for them is small, a curious fact being that considerably less mineral waters are sold under the new management than under the old. This statement is made on the authority of the manufacturer who supplied the former tenant and now supplies the Association. That this does not result from any lack of eagerness on the part of the present manager or his wife is certain. They naturally desire for their own profit to increase the sale of such drinks, but state that they can do little directly to " push " them without running a great risk of driving their customers away. It is an interesting fact, however, in this connection that the manager regularly opens his house at 6 a.m. (i.e. two hours before the other licensed houses in Sherborne), in order to supply tea to working men on their way to their employment. He is able in this way to sell on an average from thirteen to fifteen cups of tea every morning before 8 a.m. He has occasionally sold as many as thirty in one morning, but that has been due to special causes.

Whether the house under its new management has actually lessened the amount of intemperance in the town it is difficult and, indeed, impossible to decide. In view of the competition that surrounds it, it could hardly be expected to accomplish much in this direction. It is certain, however, that the character of the trade in the house itself has greatly improved. The loafers and other disreputable persons who frequented the inn under its former management no longer cross its threshold; they have probably merely transferred their custom to other houses where the management is less strict, but it is something gained to have closed the doors of one public-house against them. Inasmuch, also, as it was not at any time a question of abolishing the licence, but only of changing the conditions under which it was exercised, the Association is entitled to full credit for the unquestionable improvement that it has in this respect effected.


The foregoing instances, which are said to be typical of the houses rented by the Association, will probably suffice to illustrate the methods and aim of the People's Refreshment-House Association, and they furnish evidence enough to allow of a just estimate being made of the advantages and limitations of the experiment.


1. The first and most obvious virtue of the system is Hhat it completely eliminates the element of private profit from the sale of intoxicants in the houses managed by the Association.

2. The Association in no way authorises or sanctions any attempt on the part of its managers to push the sale of alcoholic liquors. On the contrary, it has clearly done its best to withdraw all inducement in this direction. That it could greatly increase its sales if it cared to do so is, we think, certain.

3. The utmost prominence is given to the sale of temperance beverages, and a powerful pecuniary inducement is offered to the managers to foster the sale of such drinks. Although the Association provides and furnishes the tea-rooms, and supplies all china and other utensils, the whole of the profits on food are given to the manager, as well as two-thirds of the profits on the sale of mineral waters.

4. There are no sales on credit.

5. Gambling and all the immoral accessories of the public-house are abolished.

6. Music and other adventitious attractions are not allowed except by the special permission of the Central Council. In practice no such permission seems to be given, the only apparent exception to this being the case of the Red Lion Inn at Broad Clyst, where draughts and a "peg and ring" board were in use. In this respect the Association has wisely modified in practice the theory of recreative attractions which was a feature of the scheme as originally proposed.

7. Full attention is given to the purity of the liquors sold and only those of good quality are admitted. A careful system of inspection is provided for by the Council. In practice the inspection is done by the Secretary of the Association, whose method is to enter a house without notice and take samples of the liquors sold in the bar. These samples are sent back to the merchants who supplied them, to ascertain whether the liquors are of the same strength as when first supplied, and also if the liquors are actually the same. So fai, according to the statement of the Secretary, there has never been "a single case of detection or suspicion in that connection."

8. All possibility of collusion between the brewer or distiller and the local manager is rigorously excluded. (Rule 31 provides tliat " It shall be the duty of the Council to discharge from the service of the Association any person employed by the Association who directly or indirectly shall receive from any other person supplying or dealing with the Association any gift, bonus, commission, or benefit.") Wines and spirits are ordered by the central office. In the case of beer, orders are sent by the local managers, but the central office chooses the brewer. All invoices (whether for beer or spirits) go direct to the central office, and the liquors are then charged to the local managers at selling prices. The local managers are further charged 2 1/2 per cent, for " unaccountable profit" (This is a trade term used to denote a margin of profit that accrues from certain uncontrollable causes, such as the impossibility of filling a glass absolutely full, etc. ) on all liquors sent.

9. The Association rents all its premises, which, generally speaking, are simply furnished and scrupulously clean.

10. Finally, it is to be noted that the Association has in no case added to the number of licences in a locality, but has simply acquired existing licences where suppression was not a practical issue (The Association is not, however, opposed to the policy of acquiring new licences. It would "always be ready to come forward and apply for a new licence to save it from falling into private hands." ).


The defects of the system arise chiefly out of the limitations by which, in the present state of the law, it is necessarily bound, and for these it is not properly responsible. It is nevertheless important to notice them, since they serve to indicate the legislative reforms that are necessary before a true demonstration of the value of the Gothenburg system can be given in this country.

1. The most obvious drawback to the experiment is the fact that the Association has only in certain cases a monopoly of the local traffic. In many cases it has to encounter the full force of local competition, and the effect of this is always to create a set of conditions unfavourable to complete or even important success. It is, of course, obvious that even with competition certain improvements are possible, and it is clearly a gain to the cause of temperance when the element of private profit is eliminated from even a single public-house; but the motives that underlie the Gothenburg system include much more than the elimination of private profit and the institution of minor reforms, and the value of the system as a temperance instrument is seriously diminished when it has to withstand the practically unfettered competition of a privately conducted trade. It must always be remembered that in a struggle of this kind competition tells against reform rather than for it, and even where no actual injury is done to essential principles there will always be limitation of effort and the interposition of a serious obstacle in the path of progressive reform. It is for this reason that the present writers have elsewhere (The Temperance Problem and Social Reform) attached so much importance to the need of permissive powers under which private companies such as the People's Refreshment-House Association, or municipal councils, can acquire a, complete monopoly of the licences granted to a village or town.

2. It is further to be regretted that the Association has not so far felt itself at liberty to proceed in advance of the law (as the companies in Sweden and Norway have done) in such matters as reducing the hours of sale, Sunday closing, raising the age limit for children, etc. It is true that in such cases as Broad Clyst and Sherborne, where the Association encounters the competition of other licensed houses, it would be difficult, and, from a commercial point of view, probably suicidal to attempt it ; but in other cases where the Association has a complete monopoly of the local traffic it would seem both reasonable and useful to introduce reforms of this kind. The fact that the licensing law prescribes the hours of sale is not in itself (as experiments elsewhere have shown) an insuperable barrier, and it is likely that local sentiment would, as a general rule, support any action of the Association in this direction. Certainly experiments in the public management of the liquor traffic lose much of their practical value as object-lessons when reforms of this kind are not attempted.

3. The appropriation of profits to objects of "public utility " has so far (owing to heavy expenditure in other directions) been so small that the present writers hardly feel justified in alluding to it as a defect; but in view of their strong conviction that the first charge upon surplus profits should always be the provision of efficient counter-attractions to the public-house, they cannot regard the present method of appropriation as completely satisfactory. Last year (1900) the total sum voted to objects of utility was £112, and grants were made as follows:

Sparkford - £15, Improved water supply to village. ;
Hoar Cross - £10 towards fund for erection of fountain. ;
Tunstall - £30 towards fund for district nurse.
Broad Clyst - £15 as follows: Nursing Fund, £5;Clothing Club, £5; Village lamps and green, £5. ;
Thorney - £30 as follows: Mutual Improvement Association, £15; Peterborough Infirmary, £5 ; Thorney Flower Show, £5; and Thorney Foal Show, £5.
Plymstock - £5 towards village reading-room. ; Flax Bourton, £7 towards School Fund.

In the present year (1901) a sum of £100 has been voted as under:

Sparkford - , £14, Sparkford School.
Hoar Cross - £6, Fund for fountain.
Tunstall - £23, District Nurse Fund.
Broad Clyst - £20 as follows: Village green and light, £5 ; Clothing Club, £5 ; Nursing Fund, £5 ; Debt incurred in erecting bathing-place, £5.
Thorney - £21 as follows: Thorney Horticultural Society, £4; Thorney Foal Show, £4; Mutual Improvement Society, £13.
Plymstock - £6, Parish Room.
Flax Bourton - £10, Voluntary School Fund.

It will be seen that while all the objects were themselves good, they could only in a few cases be regarded as " counter-attractions" to the public-house, £72 (out of a total of £112) being spent either upon objects properly chargeable to the rates or upon forms of charitable aid usually supported by private philanthropy. In the present instance the matter is chiefly important because of the serious deficiency of social institutes and other centres of recreation in the villages in which the Association carries on its operations.

In judging of the work of the Association as a whole, however, it is to be observed that the Executive do not regard their system of management as having " reached finality," nor as having yet reached the stage where it can be described as entirely fulfilling the aim which the promoters had in view. All that is claimed is that in their short career they have covered " a good part of the way on the road towards an ideal which is kept clearly in view." Meantime there are said to be "a good many directions in which the Executive are tentatively trying improvements, all of which will come in due time."


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