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British Gothenburg Experiments



The extent to which the movement in favour of the public management of the liquor traffic is rapidly spreading is further illustrated by the recent formation of the Ulster Public-Houses Trust Company, Limited, which began operations at Carnmoney, near Belfast, in May, 1901. The promoters have but one inn at present, but they hope shortly to extend their operations and acquire other public-houses. The principles of management are practically the same as those adopted by the Bishop of Chester's Association.

The inns are to be conducted as " refreshment-houses and not ' drinking bars'; food and non-intoxicants will be supplied as readily as intoxicants and during the same hours." The surplus profits, after allowing a sufficient sum for depreciation, reserve, and interest not exceeding 5 per cent, on invested capital, " will be administered by carefully selected trustees for the benefit of the community."


Date opened
Local Population
May 31st, 1901

The Company began operations by acquiring an inn in the parish of Carnmoney, about a mile beyond Glengormley, and seven miles north of Belfast. The inn, which is now named the Crown and Shamrock, had a bad reputation, and, according to the Belfast News-Letter, was formerly " the scene of frequent disturbances and irregularities of various kinds, and gave the police of the district continual trouble. The magistrates had, indeed, threatened to withdraw the licence, but the Company -topped in and saved the situation, and the house has titered on a new chapter in its history, which promises o be more satisfactory than its past career."

Considerable alterations were made in the premises in order to adapt them to the new requirements. "The areas in front of the house have been enclosed with neat fences of ash and oak, and provided with seats, and on the west side they terminate with a verandah of similar construction, leading to a glass door, by which entrance is gained to the principal room of the inn. This is a long, low-ceilinged apartment, containing a bay window of the old English type, with a cosy seat running round it, and not far from the window is an antique chimney-corner, such as may still be seen in old farmhouses and cottages in the counties of Antrim and Down. ... On each side of the fireplace is a ' seat for one,' and it is easy to imagine that on cold and damp days these cosy ingle-nook seats will be favourites with frequenters of the inn. The room is furnished with beech tables and rush-bottomed seats, and it is altogether as snug an apartment as one could desire. Adjoining it is the bar-room, which has undergone a complete transformation. The bar has been entirely remodelled, and arranged more in accordance with the requirements of such a hostelry, no undue prominence being given to intoxicating liquors." (Belfast News-Letter, June 1st, 1901. ).

Persons frequenting the inn are not to be subjected to any rules or restrictions " other than those prescribed by law or sanctioned by the licensing authorities, but everything possible will be done by influence and example to prevent misconduct or the use of objectionable language, and to maintain the high standard of the establishment."

There is no hard and fast rule about the amount of liquor to be supplied to a customer, but "the manager is under strict orders to carry out the spirit as well as the letter of the law, and refuse more to anyone who, according to his judgment, has had enough. And the judgment of the manager," it is added, " is not liable to the bias which might ensue from his personal loss, for he gets a fixed salary with a percentage or bonus on non-intoxicants, and has no interest in the sale of spirituous liquors at all." (Rev. E. C. Hayes, in an article in The Visitor, the organ of the Chinch of Ireland Temperance Society, July, 1901)

The precise method of appropriating the surplus profits has not yet been fixed, but the promoters, among whom are several local clergymen, " hope to be in a position to give generous assistance to many deserving projects which will benefit the large parish of Carnmoney—for instance, a coal-fund, a poor-fund, or a fund for the support of a nurse for the sick poor in the district. This, however, is a matter for future consideration." It is certainly to be hoped that when this " future consideration " is given, these suggested appropriations will be modified, for in giving the inhabitants of the parish so direct an interest in the sales, they appear to be hardly less objectionable than the direct relief of rates sanctioned in Gothenburg.

The customers are drawn from three distinct classes; namely, (1) neighbouring mill-hands, (2) small farmers on their way to and from market, and (3) cyclists. At present the house is said to do most with the third class.

The inn, which was opened on May 31st, 1901, has been working for too short a time to show decisive results, " but already," according to the testimony of the Eev. E. C. Hayes, one of the promoters of the experiment, " there is much to interest and very much to hope. Of course many are exceedingly puzzled as to what it all means. Difficulties daily arise for solution. And even after years of working it is not to be expected that one reformed house among scores of the normal type will have any startling effect upon the country-side. But a beginning must be made in every movement, and if this little social experiment succeeds, its originators are not without ambition for a wider activity. It was with that view they formed themselves into ' The Ulster Public-Houses Trust Company, Limited.' By increasing their capital according to need, they hope, as occasion affords, to buy up other houses—or even apply for new licences when they are becoming necessary, and run them on the Oarnmoney model." (Article in The Visitor, July, 1901.)


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