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Changes to Alcohol Law

During the First World War there were concerns that the wartime economy would suffer through the loss of working days due to alcohol consumption.

The 1914 Defence of the Realm Act shortened the opening hours of pubs and by the end of the war this was reduced to 11pm. The price of alcohol was also increased and the beer watered down. Buying rounds of drinks or ‘treating’ was also forbidden.

In the minutes of the St Andrews Working Men’s Club in Taunton the effects of the changes in the law regarding alcohol were noted especially due to the strong military presence in the town.

In January 1916 the Military Authorities reduced the opening hours of the Club Bar to 9pm 'with care that all glasses in which drink had been supplied were removed within a reasonable time after 9pm’. Two months later the opening time was extended to 11pm but it had to be confirmed that soldiers were permitted to be served alcohol after 9pm.

Complaints regarding the quality of the beer supplied by local breweries were also highlighted in the minutes. In November 1916 the price had been increased by 2d a gallon and 1/2d a pint for stout. Although this is not claimed to be a direct result of the war in the minutes, it reflects the national policy of increasing the price.

By April 1917 not only had the club increased their prices again, the drinks were served in smaller glasses.

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Published 3 years ago by Project Officer - Somerset Remembers

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