At the beginning of the war many Derby pubs were brewing their own beer. They too were subject to the wartime restrictions on alcohol production and consumption imposed under DORA (see DWWIPP-2). As the licensee, Edward Morley, discovered, flouting the regulations, in this case the restrictions on how much could be brewed, could be costly, in his case £50. This is about £5750 in today’s terms.
Morley, a borough councillor, was caught when an excise officer, visiting one Sunday morning in March 1918 “for special reasons” (presumably a tip-off), discovered 200 gallons (900 litres) of undeclared wort (beer before fermentation) hidden behind crates of soft drinks in the cellar.
Councillor Morley eventually admitted responsibility but claimed that his brewer, Joe Cooper who also ran the Golden Eagle for Morley, had misunderstood his instructions as he was “sometimes very deaf”. The brew was to supply all three of Morley’s pubs, the Gallant Hussar being the third. It was intended to protect his employees who often suffered abuse from potential customers when beer supplies ran out.
In mitigation Morley admitted he had not paid sufficient attention to his business affairs as he had been too busy with his public duties. As he did not wish to profit from this oversight, he had donated £50 to the King George Fund for Sailors. Any financial penalty he received would, he claimed, be of less concern to him than damage to his public reputation. His fears appear to have been unfounded as he remained a councillor until defeated in 1927.
Cooper, the supposedly deaf brewer, was called up to the army in August 1918, posted to the army medical corps. He served at an army hospital near Swindon until demobbed, when he returned to the Golden Eagle, taking the licence back from his wife.
The Wagon and Horses is now flats and the Gallant Hussar is now a corner shop just around the corner from the Dancing Duck Brewery. Happily the Golden Eagle is still a pub.
During the war sugar, most of which had to shipped across the Atlantic, was in short supply and the priority for agricultural production switched from barley for malting to foodstuffs. As a result, the CCB (see DWWIPP-2) progressively reduced the amount of beer that could be produced.
The Output of Beer Restriction Act, 1916 reduced production for the year ending March 1917 to 26 million barrels, four million down on the previous year, and ten million down on the 1914 level. In January 1917, the war cabinet introduced a further cut of 30%, down to ten million barrels, furthermore the strength of the average pint was reduced to less than about 3%. No wonder Councillor Morley’s customers were none too pleased.
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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