|THE PEOPLE'S REFRESHMENT-HOUSE
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
"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
(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
(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
(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:
- 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.
- 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.
- That no member, other than a registered society, shall
hold an interest exceeding £200 in the shares of
- 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 :
|Name of House
|Meynell Ingram Arms
||Hoar Cross, Burton-on-Trent
|The Green Man
||Tunstall, Wickliam Market
|Red Lion Inn
||Broad Clyst, Exeter
|Rose and Crown
||Flax Bourton, Bristol
|Plume of Feathers
|Dog and Doublet
|Rose and Portcullis
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
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, SPARKFORD, SOMERSET
Date when acquired by Association
Population of Village
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 shopa 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
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
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.
THE RED LION INN, BROAD CLYST, DEVON
Date when acquired by Association
Population of Village
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
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
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 Sundaysnamely 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.
PLYMSTOCK INN, PLYMSTOCK, DEVON
Date when acquired by Association
Population of Village
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
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
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 traffica 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, SHERBORNE, DORSET
Date when acquired by Association
Population of Town
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
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
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.
SUMMARY OF ADVANTAGES AND DEFECTS
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.
ADVANTAGES OF THE SYSTEM
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
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
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."
LIMITATIONS AND DEFECTS
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
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."