SCARGILL WATERWORKS CANTEEN, HARROGATE
Average Number of Men Employed
ONE of the most interesting of the experiments that have
come under the personal observation of the present writers
is that carried on by the Waterworks Committee of the Harrogate
Corporation in connection with their works at Scargill,
six miles from Harrogate. The experiment has much in common
with the canteen established by the Birmingham Corporation
at their works in the Elan Valley, Ehayader, but was started
without knowledge of that experiment.
In beginning the construction of reservoirs at Scargill,
nearly three years ago, the Waterworks Committee found themselves
compelled to provide the men employed upon the works, numbering
sometimes as many as five hundred, with facilities for purchasing
beer. The nearest public-house was two and a half miles
away, and the men refused to work unless nearer facilities
were provided. It occurred to Alderman Fortune, the chairman
of the Waterworks Committee, that the circumstances furnished
a good opportunity for an experiment on the lines of the
Gothenburg system, and, (lie Committee approving, a large
canteen (with additional but separate accommodation for
a general store) was accordingly erected, and a manager
appointed to conduct the business on clearly defined lines.
The ends aimed at are : (1) to restrict as far as possible
the sale of intoxicants, and (2) absolutely to eliminate
private profit from such sale. Alderman Fortune, to whom
the success as well as the inception of the experiment is
chiefly due, has from the first strenuously set himself
against any arrangement likely, directly or indirectly,
to interfere with the full attainment of these ends. (It
is a noteworthy illustration of the consistency with which
these aims have been pursued, that when some months ago
Alderman Fortune discovered that one of the brewers, acting
in conformity with a trade custom, had given the manager
of the canteen a Christmas present, he at once gave instructions
that no further orders were to be sent to that brewer.)
Beer is the only intoxicant sold, spirits being expressly
excluded. The manager receives no commission on the sale
of beer, but is allowed to sell for his own profit all kinds
of food, as well as tea, coffee, mineral waters, etc. In
addition, he is paid a fixed salary and provided with a
house, coal, and light. He is not allowed to purchase the
beer nor to fix the price at which it is sold. It is invoiced
to him at selling prices, a small allowance being made for
The hours of sale are severely restricted. The canteen
is open on the ordinary week-days from 9 a.m. to 9.30 a.m.,
12 noon to 1 p.m., and from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. On Saturdays
the hours are from 9 a.m. to 9.30 a.m., 12 noon to 2.30
p.m., and from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. On Sundays it is open from
12.30 p.m. to 2.30 p.m. and from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. At first
the final hour of closing on week-days was 10 p.m.; it was
subsequently altered to 9 p.m., and is now 8 p.m. If circumstances
appear to demand it, the manager is instructed to close
still earlier. On " Mafeking" day, for example,
the canteen was closed early in the afternoon, and kept
closed for the remainder of the day. It is also kept closed
after the annual dinner at Christmas. In this respect the
management is closely modelled upon the practice of the
The manager is not allowed to serve beer at other than
the recognised hours, nor is he, under any circumstances,
permitted to send beer to the men at work; but he may send
tea, mineral waters, and other temperance drinks. During
a spell of hot weather last summer the men petitioned to
be allowed to purchase beer during work hours. Alderman
Fortune refused the petition, but gave instructions for
oatmeal water to be freely supplied to men who desired it,
It is interesting as an indication of the extent to which
temperance drinks are sold that the manager sells from forty
to fifty pints of tea a day. At the time of our visit he
was also selling a fair quantity of mineral waters, chiefly,
however, in conjunction with beer. He stated that the sale
of mineral waters could not be " pushed" to any
considerable extent; the men " know what they want,"
and " resent being interfered with " in respect
of their orders.
No one is served with beer who shows the least sign of
drunkenness, and it is an interesting fact that so far not
a single case of drunkenness has been traced to the canteen.
There have been a few cases of drunkenness in the village,
but inquiry has shown that these were always attributable
to spirits purchased elsewhere.
The canteen itself is a somewhat rude wooden structure
with a concrete floor and furnished with benches and tables.
The bar proper is a plain compartment stretching across
one end of the building, and is only used for supplying
the orders. Liquor is not consumed at the bar.
There appears to be very little "off" sale, but
what there is is carried on at a window in a separate part
of the building, so that children or others fetching the
beer have no contact with the bar. Women are not served
in the canteen. The number of women and children at the
colony is, however, small.
No credit is given, nor are any games allowed in the canteen.
A small mission-hall has been erected by the Committee,
and is used on week-evenings as a reading-room and institute
for the men, and in the mornings as a school for the children.
A missionary lives at the settlement, and one-third of his
salary is paid by the Committee. The reading-room is supplied
with daily and weekly newspapers and magazines, and a bagatelle-board
and other games are provided. During the winter a fortnightly
concert is given.
The balance-sheet of the canteen for the year ending March
25th, 1900, showed a gross profit of £826, and a net
profit of £720. Last year (i.e. year ending March
25th, 1901) the gross profits were £886, and the net
profits £799. The percentage of net profit on takings
was, in the former year, 31 per cent., and in the latter
38 per cent. It should be noted, however, that nothing is
charged against the canteen in respect of rent and lighting.
The method of appropriating the profits is hardly satisfactorytoo
small a proportion, in the judgment of the present writers,
being devoted to recreative agencies and other counter-attractions
to the canteen. Some of the appropriations (as, for example,
the £200 devoted last year to the payment of compensation
for injuries received by workmen employed on the works,
and the £82 spent on pensions to old servants) also
partake too much of the character of relief to the ratepayers.
But this is the only serious criticism to be urged against
what is in the main an admirable and useful experiment.
No better proof of its general success could be given than
the fact that, although the works have been in progress
for nearly three years, the services of a police officer
have not yet been required. The absence of competition is,
of course, an important factor in its success.