The Silk Mill exemplifies one of the changes brought about, or at least accelerated by, the war. In 1914, although working-class women could be found in pubs with their husbands, many pubs were ‘male drinking dens’ which no ‘respectable’ women would enter, except possibly into the ‘Jug and Bottle’ to fetch beer to drink at home. These would have a separate entrance and be partitioned off from the rest of the pub.
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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.
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.
Strettons Manchester Brewery stood on Ashbourne Road, bounded by Surrey Street and Frederick Street. The firm was founded in 1867 when the Stretton brothers bought John Porter’s Brewery on the Ashbourne Road. In 1929 the brewery was closed and sold to local soft drinks manufacturer Burrows and Sturgess. It was lost to a fire in 1978.
The distinctive maltings buildings still stand, converted into flats. These can be seen on Manchester Street, which leads off the other side of Surrey Street. Manchester Street is thought to be named after the brewery, not the other way round.
Will you follow the king’s example? This was a question put to the citizens of Derby in April 1915 by the local Temperance Society. The Society lobbied local people trying to persuade them to abstain from alcohol for the period of the war. This was given a boost on April 1915 when the king publicly declared that “no wines, spirits, or beer will be consumed in His Majesty’s houses”.
Other public figures, such as Lord Kitchener, and members of the cabinet agreed to do the same. Derby Temperance Society printed two versions of its pledge, the usual total abstinence pledge, and the “Patriotic Pledge” binding only for the duration of the war.
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.