The Drill Hall Vaults served the Derbyshire Yeomanry Drill Hall on Becket Street. The Drill Hall is long gone and so is the name – the pub is now Bar One. A little drama, played out one Sunday morning in 1916, illustrates one aspect of the restrictions on alcohol consumption imposed during the war.
At 11.20 am PC Jordan, watching the pub from a hidden vantage point, observed the pub’s manageress Mrs Claxton at the door of the pub with a parcel in her hands. Having looked up and down the street to check that no one was watching she called the servant boy, John Ward, and told him to take the parcel next door to the Drill Hall. There it was received by the clerk to the Drill Hall, Albert Blood. On entering the Drill Hall PC Jordan spotted the open parcel, which contained three bottles of Ind Coope IPA.
The pub’s licensee, William Wallis, and Alfred Blood the clerk were fined 5/- (five shillings, 25p) each, for supplying and receiving alcohol outside permitted hours. At the time a week’s wages for a skilled manual worker was about £2.
It is not clear whether PC Jordan had reasons to suspect what was going to happen, but his evidence was clear, and both Wallis and Blood admitted the offence. Wallis had taken on the licence only a month earlier, in July, as a temporary measure when the previous licensee joined the army. He left the day-to-day running of the pub to Claxton, whom he considered a “fit and proper person” to run the pub.
In mitigation, Claxton claimed that the beer had been paid for on the Saturday evening during permitted opening hours, so she believed she was within the law. Blood claimed that he was unaware that she would be sending the bottles over outside opening hours.
Maybe it was an innocent mistake, but why had PC Jordan apparently been lying in wait?
Before the war, pubs could be open for 16 or more hours a day, but this was gradually reduced to 5 ½ hours a day under powers granted by DORA, the Defence of the Realm Act (1914). DORA allowed the government to control anything that might affect the war effort, even the lighting of bonfires (they could be signals for Zeppelins).
A major concern for the government was alcohol, which was considered detrimental to wartime production (see DWWIPP-3). The job of curbing alcohol consumption was delegated to the Central Control Board (CCB), though there could be local variations in the regulations. Measured included reduction in strength from an average of 5.2% to 2.6% and increases in price from 3p (about 1.5p) to 8d (about 4p) – strength halved, price doubled! This did not go down well!
Other restrictions can be found in DWWIPP-5, 9, 10 and 11.
Compared to the continental powers, Britain had a relatively small standing army in 1914. The most important of the armed services was the Royal Navy. This was needed to “rule the waves” and allow troops to be deployed in small local conflicts to defend the imperial territories. Unlike most major powers, there was no conscription into the Regular Army, but there was a long tradition of voluntary forces, intended to strengthen home defences. The Derbyshire Yeomanry was one such unit (see also DWWIPP-4 and DWWIPP-12).
Details of the opening hours and facilities of Bar One can be found using the CAMRA Good Beer Guide app, which can be obtained free of charge (basic version) at https://gbgapp.camra.org.uk/ or (free of charge) from WhatPub https://whatpub.com/
This Wonder is one of a series of thirteen researched by the Derby World War One Pubs Project (DWWIPP). In describing the wonders, we also develop an underlying narrative on how the war lastingly affected pubs and the brewing industry, and society itself. For this reason, it may be preferable to read them in sequence, DWWIPP-1 to DWWIPP-13.
The thirteen wonders in this series and other stories featuring the effects of WWI on pubs and breweries can be found in a special Armistice Centenary Edition of Derby CAMRA’s magazine, Derby Drinker. It, and the current edition, can be downloaded free of charge at https://derby.camra.org.uk/derby-drinker/DerbyDrinker/DerbyDrinker_WW1special.pdf . You can also download an ‘Ale Trail’ leaflet featuring the thirteen Wonders in this series from https://derby.camra.org.uk/
The DWWIPP team are grateful for the support and encouragement of many organizations and individuals, in particular to the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), and all National Lottery players, for the funding; the Derby Branch CAMRA (The Campaign for Real Ale); the Derby Local Studies and Family History Library; and the Buxton Museum and Art Gallery (Wonders of the Peak).
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