Some wounded soldiers were sent back to Britain for hospital treatment or convalescence. Mobile patients were allowed to go into the town but were forbidden to drink or enter public houses. Unfortunately for them, they could be easily identified by their grey uniforms.
There were suspicions around the town that convalescents were obtaining alcohol and the New Flower Pot (as it was then) became the centre of a surveillance operation. And so it was that a police sergeant observed three wounded soldiers enter 21 Chapel Street, just around the corner. Shortly afterwards Mrs Hynes, the occupant, left the house with “something bulky under her apron” and went into the Flowerpot. A little later Hynes returned home “still carrying some bulky object”.
The sergeant attempted to follow but found the door locked. On gaining entry he discovered an empty three-pint jug, glasses of beer and three soldiers in hospital uniform.
Hynes explained that the beer was for her and an old lady she looked after and that she had not given any to the soldiers. The soldiers supported her statements, denying that they had drunk any beer.
The soldiers’ denials were supported by Miss Walker-Wilson the sister in charge of the Red Cross hospital on Duffield Road set up to treat wounded men. She explained the men were suffering from shell shock and even a small amount of alcohol would make the men appear to be drugged, but she had not suspected the men and had not seen any evidence that they had been drinking.
The case against Hynes was dismissed due to lack of conclusive evidence although the magistrates said the police were fully justified in bringing the case, perhaps a reflection of their suspicions. They issued a warning that anyone convicted of supplying drink to patients would be dealt with severely as “there was a good deal of that sort of thing going on in the town”.
At the time, the Flowerpot, like most pubs would be tiny by modern standards. Now greatly extended, both to the rear and into the building next door, it is a Good Beer Guide regular, and its function room in the extension is a popular music venue. The bar displays Derby County’s fixture list for the 1914-15 season including advertisements for local businesses of the time. Derby County became second division champions and promoted to the top tier. However, they had to wait until 1920 before the league resumed (Rams fans, look away now) when they were relegated.
Even if wounded soldiers had been allowed to go into pubs and to drink, it would have been illegal for anyone to buy them a pint. One of the regulations introduced under DORA (see DWWIPP-2) was the no-treating rule. No one was allowed to buy anyone else, even their wife or husband, an alcoholic drink. The rationale was that one round leads to another … some things don’t change.
Details of the opening hours and facilities of ‘The Pot’ will be found using the CAMRA Good Beer Guide app. This can be obtained free of charge (basic version) at https://gbgapp.camra.org.uk/ or (free of charge) from WhatPub at 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).
Images may be subject to copyright.