Saturday, 1 December 2012

A MOMENT IN TIME - Temperance

Brewster Sessions

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 -  took their pleasure 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.  We should all understand and appreciate today what the Women's temperance movements were all about.

Scrupulous and fairly rigid control of this popular and socially destabilising 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 properly kept a strict control of its distribution in any locality.  At each fiscal year's end, the police were required to report to the relevant committees to place on record the fruits of their annual dealings or otherwise and so it was that in each final week of December the official report was unveiled. In the December of the final week the century, the year 1900, Superintendent Mantle duly submitted only the second annual 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:   The Superintendent told 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 victuallers, 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, which is a license to 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 discharged, being an increase of nine as 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 have music licenses.   The renewal of the Railway Inn 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, Melton Mowbray (at present a six days’ license) is applying for a seven days’ license, which will be brought before you to-day.   There is [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, Boat, Royal Oak, and Dog and Gun, have been carried out.   I have no complaint to urge against any of the license holders."

And that was that for another year!

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