Sunday, 21 June 2009

Women in pubs

I can't stay away from WW I for long. Weird, isn't it? Today's post is more social than beer history, but none the less fascinating for that.

The war brought about changes in social behaviour that had an impact on the brewing industry. Women, often doing men’s jobs and earning higher wages than before, wanted to drink beer, too. It came as a great shock to some.

"I remember, too, that we had a visit from some Chief Constables from towns in the North of England, including Newcastle and Durham, who had come to tell the Control Board of a serious increase in drinking among women in their towns, which was, they emphasised, a growing evil, one non-existent before the war. D'Abvernon sent for figures of convictions for drunkenness in the town concerned, and remarked that from the figures it did not appear that there had been any marked increase in drunkenness among women in these areas - on the contrary, there was an improvement. The Chief Constables replied that there was little actual drunkenness among women, but that their present purpose was to draw their attention to the large increase in the number of women who now drank. In the old days few decent women would go into a public house at all, and now they were walking in 'bold as brass', putting down their money and calling for beer. The Chief Constables assured Lord D'Abernon that this state of affairs had been practically unheard-of in peace time; they feared that it might continue after the war. I had, of course, known that women in ordinary times used public houses much less up north than in the London district, but I was not aware until then how wide was the difference. It seemed to me strange that leading police officials should be so troubled at what in the south was quite a normal custom.

I have always regretted that it should have been regarded as proper for a man to enter a public house but unsuitable for a woman; however, that view was strongly held, particularly in the north - perhaps one reason was the low standard of public houses in the northern industrial districts - or perhaps one result!"
"Seventy Rolling Years" by Sydney Nevile, page 108.

It's a bit odd that socially acceptable behaviour differed so much between the north and south. Was it really just because northern pubs were crap?

No comments: