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A MOMENT IN TIME - Temperance

Brewster Sessions of Melton Mowbray, 1900.

Rural life was fairly uncomplicated in the final years of Queen Victoria's long reign and without any doubt or argument there was only one true form of popular entertainment for her subjects. Without the cinema or television to entertain them during their precious hours away from work, attending at bare-knuckle boxing or perhaps a few hours of cock-fighting, followed by some bull baiting, the great majority, especially the males but certainly not only them, took their just about affordable pleasures from the liberal consumption of alcohol in all of its guises and from wherever they could locate it.  Suffice to say that the local pub was the place to be to consume this 'nectar' when work was over for the day, away from the prying eyes of the wife and kids and the constant demand for money to buy the children food, they shared their spare hours with their pals.  We should all understand and appreciate today, soberly, what the Women's Temperance movements were all about.

Scrupulous and inflexible control of this popular and socially destabilising social habit, was levied by Statute from National Government which was to ensure in turn that local government bodies were tasked to ensure that the police force properly kept a strict control of its distribution in any locality, not to mention lightly, the management and public control of the imbibers.  At each fiscal year's end, the police were required to report to the relevant Parish committees to place on record the fruits of their annual appraisals or otherwise. So it was then, that in each final week of December the official report would be unveiled. 

In the final week of the year 1900 - Police Superintendent Mantle duly submitted his report to the Melton Mowbray Brewster Sessions. At that first licensing meeting of the Petty Sessional Division in the new century, Mr John Fast took the chair and sat with fellow members, Major Sterling, Mr James Pacey and Mr Andrew Shipman:  Supt. Mantle was to inform the meeting:
“Gentlemen, I beg to submit for your information my second annual report under the intoxicating liquor laws. There are 103 persons licensed to sell in this division, viz. 85 licensed victualers, eight to sell beer on premises, three to sell beer off premises; one refreshment, six wines, total 103. The population at the last census was 19,917 persons, which equates to a license for every 193 persons.   Drunkenness: Persons proceeded against under the above heading, viz.. Drunk and disorderly on the highway 23, drunk in charge of horses two, simple drunkenness 19, refusing to quit licensed premises, three, total 47. Forty-four were convicted and three were discharged, this being an increase of nine compared with last year. Five full licenses, one beer-off and one wine-off, have been transferred during the year.  One licensed victualler has been summoned and convicted under the Food and Drugs Act.  Nineteen persons now have music licenses.  
The renewal of the Railway Inn license will not be applied for, it being pulled down for alterations at the railway crossing, Burton-end. Thomas Clifton who keeps the ‘Dog and Gun’ beer house, (at present a six days’ license) is applying for a seven days’ license, which will be brought before you to-day. There are no applications for any new licenses. All the alterations which the magistrates suggested when they visited the Marquis of Granby Inn, Red Lion, Duke of Rutland, Three Crowns, The Boat, Royal Oak, and Dog and Gun, have been carried out as required. I have no complaint to urge against any of the license holders."
And that was that for another year!

© John McQuaid, 2015


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