News, nuggets and longreads 2 March 2024: Because of the Cats

Here’s our pick of the best reading about beer and pubs from the past week including old breweries, writer’s pubs, and at least one machine gun.

First, a couple of bits of news that grabbed our attention:

  1. The Crooked House, the pub that was burned down in suspicious circumstances, is to be rebuilt by order of South Staffordshire Council. Here’s the news story from the BBC and there’s detailed commentary by Laura Hadland on her website at the bottom of a long page we bet she now wishes she’d structured in reverse order.
  2. A slew of new flagship pubs and taprooms have opened or been announced which strikes us as interesting in the wider gloomy context around hospitality: the Craft Beer Co’s new vintage beer pub, a St Austell and Harbour partnership in Cornwall, and a big Siren place in Reading. All via the indispensable Beer Today.

An old sign advertising Stella Artois on the corner of a bar in Leuven.

At Beervana Jeff Alworth digs into a thorny question: how old really are these breweries that claim to be old? And from where do they get these fantastic founding dates?

According to its own history, Weihenstephan started life as a monastery, going back to the 8th century. A nearby farm produced hops, so the brewery believes the monks were making beer there, but they don’t mark their start date until 1040, when the abbot received a license to brew on the grounds. Over the next four centuries, the monastery burned down four times and was depopulated by three plagues, and hit by armies and at least one earthquake. Still, the monks rebuilt. While the history through this period is pretty sketchy, I don’t have any problem calling this legit continuity… However, here the historical record fragments for the next 400ish years and we skip to 1803, when the monastery was secularized. Did the monks continue to brew consistently that whole time?

A drawing of a man with a pint of beer and his hand raised to his head, looking troubled or pained.

There’s a rather soul-bearing piece by Adrian Tierney-Jones on Substack about loneliness and the pub:

There are certainly times when I have been lonely, a state of mind desperately endless it seemed, alone in a flat that once held someone else’s voice and still contained some of her items, the lack of promise petering out and the slowness of the tick-tock of the clock stifling — anxious times as I thought then, when I thought I wanted to sleep for a long time, even though not long afterwards I realised this feeling was an indulgence… Now though, if I feel I am lonely what am I really asking myself and how do I deal with it? Maybe it is a case that the loneliness I feel can be assisted, as well as resisted, by the imagination and the memories of friends, past lovers, family members and that small island of delicious and decadent solitude I experience when in a crowd, sitting in a pub that is slowly being filled with people for instance. They bring with them their lives, their voices and their happiness…

Illustration: a quiet corner in a quiet pub, with table and stools.

Katie Mather has been thinking about what might constitute a “writer’s pub”:

I’ve been trying to plan a short pubs-and-pushbikes break for myself over the summer where I can also get a little reading and scribbling done, and honestly, it’s become a fixation. No matter where I look I can never be sure what I want. Comfy seats? Not old enough. Rural and quaint? Too isolated. What am I looking for? Does the ideal writers’ pub actually exist? I’ve been zooming in and out of Google Maps all week trying to find a place that strikes the balances I require—most of which are incredibly hypocritical.

The Dirty Shame Saloon, a simple wooden building in wild west style, in the snow.
SOURCE: The Beer Chaser/Yaak Real Estate.

You know when you discover a website that’s apparently been around for years and you’re not sure how you missed it? The Beer Chaser is written by Don Williams, a retiree and compulsive ticker of bars and pubs across America. He has a particular interest in dive bars and one of his favourites is The Dirty Shame Saloon in Yaak, Montana, which sounds very… American:

Joan Melcher’s two books on Montana Watering Holes [suggest] there are at least three and possibly four incredible stories strictly on how the Shame was originally named… One involves fighter Joe Lewis and a second relates the saga of seven dead cows – shot by a guy named Jimmy who left them on the road in front of the bar.  Don’t forget the other about a mother-in-law of one of the original owners who would sit in the corner of the bar and admonish him “What a ‘dirty shame’ it was that you bought this bar.” 

There are a few things in the post that made us say “Oh dear” and “Yikes”, including a weird reference to someone as “a female”. But as a portrait of a place, and a people, and a pub that is not our world it’s fascinating.

A view of the Tyne Bridge in Newcastle.

Stephen Liddell has been putting together some historic pub crawls which has led him to investigate the story of Newcastle pub landlord William Campbell, “the heaviest man in the world”:

Born in Glasgow in 1856, Campbell was one of seven children in a family who were all of average proportions, but his parents will have realised they had a whopper on their hands when he’d reached four stone at the age of nine months… Inspired by a freak show that visited Glasgow, Campbell decided to exhibit his vast body for money. He billed himself as ‘The Biggest Man In Britain’, ‘Her Majesty’s Largest Subject’ or ‘The Heaviest Man In The World’, depending on how the fancy took him… The Duke of Wellington public house on High Bridge in Newcastle was owned by the brewers Bartleman & Crighton and had been raided by the police for illegal gambling, coming within a whisker of losing its licence. The brewery decided to change the tone of their business by hiring a celebrity to run the pub, and celebrities didn’t come any bigger than William Campbell.

A selection of crisps and nuts on a pub bar.

As you’ll know if you’ve been following us for a while ‘pub grub’, pub snacks, and the rise of the gastropub are favourite subjects of ours. Ron Pattinson is currently mining 1970s editions of The Brewers’ Guardian for nuggets and has shared a few posts on related subjects this week, including a survey about pub food from 1970:

“Apart from the obvious things, like bad hygiene, I think what I dislike most is that one can never really tell how long the food has been standing in the warming cabinet. It’s easy enough to spot a curled up sandwich or a piece of mouldy cheese but if you fancy shepherd’s pie or sausages I am put off by the thought that they may have been re-heated from the morning session. Perhaps I am too nervous.”

This also reminded us of a joke in the 1940 Ealing comedy Saloon Bar, in which a pub landlord asks a barmaid since when the sandwiches have been on sale. “Last month,” she replies, “but they’ve been under glass you know.” He drops one on the floor, picks it up, blows off the dust and puts it back. “Well, see that they go tonight.”

Finally, from social media…

For more good reading check out Stan Hieronymus’s round-up from Monday and Alan McLeod’s from Thursday.


An unscientific approach to Brighton

Its a sign of a good drinking town that you can find multiple decent pubs without doing much research.

In Brighton last weekend, on a trip with Ray’s parents, we weren’t sure how much time we’d have for the pub.

So, we didn’t bother studying the books or blogs, or scouring Google.

The only thing we had in the back of our minds was that it might be nice to revisit The Evening Star after 15 years, on the other side of the Dark-Star-Fuller’s-Asahi situation.

As it happened, we did get a couple of hours free on Saturday afternoon and went straight there.

We caught it between lunchtime and the post-football-match rush and so had our pick of scrubbed wooden tables. It felt like a country pub, with solitary readers and groups of older men in wax jackets and battered hats.

On the bar were cask ales from Burning Sky and others. There were also interesting keg beers such as Saison Dupont.

Everything we drank was in excellent condition, served with distinct pride, but we got stuck on Evening Star (Downlands) Revival at 4.8%. It’s the kind of clear, clean, citrusy pale ale that briefly bloomed for a decade at the start of the century. You know, the kind of thing for which Dark Star became famous.

“…the cashless thing is about complete control of the population…” “…used to brew at Partridge Green…” “…these hoppy IPAs gripe my guts…”

When the football fans began to turn up, the atmosphere changed, but not for the worse.

This remains an utterly great pub.

A wall at The Brick with a vintage German poster from 1954 with a stylised stag's head. There are dangling lamps and simple wooden tables with candles.
European signifiers at The Brick.

We heard about The Brick when The Brick followed us on Instagram two days before our unannounced visit. Spooky.

Its branding and proposition appealed to us immediately: warm minimalism, Czech and German beer.

On a rainy Sunday evening, in the wake of the half marathon, it was a little quiet. But that’s not a bad test of the fundamental fitness of a pub.

With its dark green walls, vintage furniture and antler-themed greebling, even with six customers, it felt alive.

One of the owners was pottering about tidying up and stock taking; two lads were chatting in, we think, Italian; and a group at the bar were exchanging horror stories from working in commercial kitchens.

The highlight of the visit was Vinohradský 11, a Czech pale lager with a delightful flowery aroma, a hint of butter, and a heavy layer of pure zing.

When we ordered, the loitering owner intervened to tell the person behind the bar: “I think we’ve got a nice little Vinohradský glass for that one…” They did, and it enhanced the pleasure enormously.

Squint and, with that handled mug to your mouth, you could convince yourself you were in some eastern bloc bar in 1983. In a good way.

The interior of a modern pub with tiled back bar, keg taps, bunting, chalkboards, and very bright lights.
Craft beer signifiers at The Maris & Otter.

Much as we enjoyed this modern bar, and its continental beer, we then had an itch to drink Harvey’s somewhat on its home turf. A 6-minute walk away we found The Maris & Otter, which we’d clocked on an earlier walk.

Again, it’s tough to judge a pub on a rainy Sunday evening, but this felt inherently bland. It’s an attempt by a trad brewery to do ‘contemporary’ which means:

  • bare brick and concrete walls
  • prints of otters in Peaky Blinders hats
  • the words ‘craft beer’ in random places
  • bright lights
  • pop music

If it hadn’t been for the line up on the bar, we’d have walked, but when you offer us Harvey’s best bitter, mild, porter and old ale, you’ve got us hooked.

The porter was wonderful, we might even say magical, with everything you get from something like Fuller’s London Porter plus that distinctive funky yeast character. The best bitter was in wonderful condition, too, but served in a highball type glass which did it no favours.

The door of a pub toilet with signs warning that drugs are not allowed on the premises, and that only one person at a time is allowed in the cubicle.
Normal pub signifiers at The Waggon & Horses.

As a footnote, Ray also enjoyed Sussex Best at The Waggon & Horses, a city centre pub chosen by his dad because (a) it was handy and (b) looked down-to-earth.

It wasn’t anything special, as a pub, except, somehow, it was. Extraordinarily ordinary. Buttered white toast. A Rich Tea biscuit.

The staff weren’t obsequiously friendly but seemed to have the knack for treating customers like human beings.

The other customers were damp shoppers, lads on crawls, and a trio of older fellers, evidently from London, who made welcoming chat with Dad while Ray was at the bar.

And the beer was… excellent.

Dark Star Hophead, that 3.8% wonder, as good as it’s ever tasted, and Harvey’s Sussex Best in similarly shimmering form.

It seemed to bring Dad, not long out of hospital, and still not quite himself, back to life, as only a really good pint can do.


News, nuggets and longreads 24 February 2024: Pretty Flower

Here’s our pick of the week’s writing about beer and pubs, with breakfast pints, social awkwardness, alder wood, and more.

First, some sad news from our old stamping ground of Penzance: The Star Inn at Crowlas is closing, getting a tidy up, and going on the market along with the attached brewery. If you followed us during our time in PZ you probably got sick of hearing us go on about Potion 9, the brewery’s flagship beer. When Pete Elvin, the genius behind the brewery died at Christmas, we did wonder what might happen next. And perhaps this was in the back of our minds when we wrote about learning to embrace change in our newsletter last weekend.

A pub clock.
Not a Dublin pub.

For Totally Dublin Michael Lanigan has written about the 6 pubs in Dublin that are allowed to open early in the morning, thanks to old licences. Accompanied by evocative photos by by Malcolm McGettigan it’s packed with small incidents, characters, and salty dialogue:

Inside the Wind Jammer, the deep babel of a few dozen male voices chattering boomed through the barroom, and the bright white lights emanating from its chandeliers sent a jolt through each punter stepping in to escape the drowsy city… “I can tell you a lie about the milkman,” said a man in his early fifties, wearing a black pork pie hat and perched on a stool at the rounded marble counter, a large bottle of Bulmers before him… “This place is a nice friendly shop,” the man in the pork pie hat said. “I’ve seen taxi drivers drop off Americans in here, off a flight. They’d be awake all night and are looking to get a beer. So, I’ve been in here, fucking nine in the morning with a singsong, drinking with cunts from New York.”

(We’re grateful to The Beer Nut for sending us the link to this story, which we’d have otherwise missed.)

Stools at the bar in a pub.

At Pints of Cask Make You Strong Ross Cummins has written just the kind of over-analysis of the pub experience that we enjoy. Working out where to sit, or where not to sit, is something that happens mostly subconsciously, so it’s interesting to see the thought process laid out in agonising detail:

Could we sit at the bar? Not really, one person maybe but not two with winter coats, and a camera bag et al. We did want to sit in the lovely cosy bar area, and there was a small table available. We hesitated though. Instead of one of us immediately sitting in the empty space, in the beautifully traditional British way, we took in the pub, stunning as it is, and got cocky. Just as our pints were being placed on the bar a definite regular walked in, taking off his coat in the process. We assumed he would take the available seats.

The garden at Wiper & True with tower blocks at Lawrence Hill in the background.

Anthony Gladman’s piece about Wiper & True for Pellicle grabbed our attention for a couple of reasons. First, it’s one of our local breweries, and the new taproom described in the article is one of our nearest licenced establishments. (Though still not very near.) Secondly, it centres on a beer-cider hybrid – a concept that seemed significant to us back in 2014 when our book Brew Britannia came out. Then, it was Wild Beer Co’s Ninkasi. Now, it’s Orchard Ale:

Technically speaking, Orchard Ale is a graf: a beer-cider hybrid that sees both wort and apple juice blended and fermented together. (The name ‘graf’ actually comes from a fictional beverage invented by author Stephen King in The Dark Tower series of novels.) Wild yeasts do their work with as little intervention as possible from the brewers. The finished drink sits somewhere between a cider and a lambic. It has the crispness of a Somerset cider but with a softening background sweetness from the malt which saves it from being too dry… It’s like drinking the brewery’s deepest roots. The apples come from an orchard Michael planted in 2010 with his wife, Francesca—he made cider long before he ever brewed beer.

Schlenkerla Cap

Here’s a post at Blog-Ums-Bier by Ralf in German (thanks, Google Translate and ChatGPT!) that provides tasting notes and background on the growing range of beers from Schlenkerla in Bamberg:

Recently, I found myself curious about [Schlenkerla’s cherry-wood smoked beer] Weichsel, and pondered the different types of wood that could be used to smoke beers. Then, out of nowhere, Schlenkerla releases their own twist: a dark beer with malt smoked over alder wood. So, what’s the verdict on the Alder? That sounds as if I want to taste the wood itself. And honestly, when it comes to Schlenkerla, that’s not far off. Their standard beer, Märzen, is famous (or infamous) for its distinct ham-like flavour. This brings us to the topic of wood: just as ham is smoked with carefully chosen wood – often juniper for raw ham, and beech for the more delicate sausage varieties – Schlenkerla Märzen also incorporates beech smoke. So, the aroma of beech smoke is something you’re likely familiar with… Alder, on the other hand, is something we don’t really know about.

The spire of Big Ben with the Millennium Wheel in the background.

Having both worked in Westminster when we were younger we were interested to read Kate Whannel’s piece for the BBC about about the history and fate of division bells in pubs around Parliament. We both recall a time when we were in the St Stephen’s Tavern and the division bell rang, prompting David Blunkett to rush past and out of the pub with his guide dog. Anyway, it turns out they’re endangered, and no longer ringing as once they did:

The bell in the Marquis of Granby, once a favourite spot for Conservatives, portentously stopped ringing just before the pandemic shut pubs across the country – and hasn’t started back up since… Pub manager at the Marquis of Granby Jo does want to get it back up and running. “I like having it, it is unique to this area, unique to Westminster, but trying to get it fixed is a nightmare.”

Finally, here’s an interesting looking book by Dr Christina Wade that we’ve ordered and look forward to reading:

For more good reading check out Stan Hieronymus’s round-up from Monday and Alan McLeod’s from Thursday.


News, nuggets and longreads 17 February 2024: Running Wild

Every Saturday we round-up the best writing about beer from the past 7 days. This week we’ve got pessimism, optimism, and pure Belgianness.

First, there’s been a flurry of news about brewery closures and changes:

The pumps at the Royal Oak Borough including one for porter

Will Hawkes has shared the January edition of his London Beer City newsletter online. It’s a great read from beginning to end with the provocative title ‘Is this a golden age for London pubs?’

Given the current economic pressures, it’s worse now than ever. But pubs closing is not a phenomenon just of the last 20 years; they’ve been shutting since the Victorian era, as Mark Girouard pointed out in his superb 1975 book Victorian Pubs. “London is full of dead pubs,” he wrote back then; “In Oxford Street between St Giles Circus and Marble Arch there were 19 pubs in 1890; today there is only one.” (That pub, then the Tottenham and now The Flying Horse, is still there, btw: it’s worth a visit for its classic 1890s interior)… You cannot discuss the decline of pubs without acknowledging the huge changes in society that have taken place, and the new and varied options open to ordinary people that didn’t exist in 1890 or even 1980 (the pre-cheeky Nando’s era, if you like). So much of the hand-wringing over pubs is really disgruntlement at how society has changed – which is all very well, depending on your perspective, but it doesn’t get us very far.

His diary of a weekly visit to a posh pub in Dulwich is fascinating, too, and something all of us habitual pub goers could try. Perhaps we’ll keep a Swan With Two Necks diary for a month or two.

The moody interior of The Britons Protection with tiles, low light and red paintwork.

At Jim’s Substack Jim Cullen has written about a small crawl around some classic Manchester pubs with old friends from work, and the nature of old friendships:

The last few months – on a personal level – have been a bit bleak – so, when I spoke to one of my work heroes (my colleague Phil) about getting my old Boss (Mick) out, I was delighted that he took the reins and organised it… so we found ourselves, on pay day, on Liverpool Road, just off Deansgate in Manchester…. Phil noticed me walking in and I was quickly furnished with a pint of Knack (Mild) by Thornbridge. Lightly roasty, creamy and smooth with ever such a light chocolatey note, it was a beautiful reminder that it doesn’t take a old family brewer to brew heritage styles. I love Mild.

A smiling man with a bald head and big smile holding a flipping massive rabbit.
Senne Eylenbosch with a massive rabbit, of course. SOURCE: Belgian Smaak/Cliff Lucas.

At Belgian Smaak Breandán Kearney profiles Senne Eylenbosch and his lambic blendery, Het Boerenerf, which has a romantic back story:

At the 2011 Kasteelfeest—when Eylenbosch was 15 years-old—his parents were busy scooping ice-cream and making pancakes, so Eylenbosch sneaked off to the tent next door, where Sidy Hannsens of Geuzestekerij Hannsens pulled him aside and gave him a glass of Hannsens Oude Kriek. She even gave him a five euro note to buy a Kriek from another producer so he could understand how “a real one” tasted against other versions. It was a small gesture that made a big impression on a young Eylenbosch… Growing up in the Zenne valley, Lambic was always on Eylenbosch’s periphery. The building right next door to where he lived, now a block of apartments, was once a Lambic brewery dating back to the 1860s and owned for a period by his own bloodline. “It was a big scar in the family,” he says of the family’s decision to stop Lambic production in the 1960s. “It wasn’t commonly talked about. It’s still not.”

An old illustration of hops against a bright green background.

It’s fascinating to see the big problems of European history reflected in the smaller local story of controversy around the Upper Austrian hop market in the 19th century. As Andreas Krennmair writes, the price and provenance of hops was a hot issue, and tangled up with antisemitism:

An 1869 article claimed that hop growers were only paid 60 fl. for their hops, while at the same time, Upper Austrian hops were traded in Saaz for 90 to 100 fl. This is blamed specifically on Jewish hop traders, who the anonymous author accuses of arranging with each other, thus controlling the prices. The same author suggests that hop growers should form an association to centrally control the sales of Upper Austrian hops, thus having more leverage to dictate prices… This article was immediately contradicted by an expert.. The editors added a note to the letter, claiming that the author, although only anonymously signed as “an expert”, was a Jewish hop trader… About a month later, another article was published in a different newspaper, denouncing the initial reports as wrong, not only correcting the wrong price information, but also scalding the use of defamatory, antisemitic language.

A fluted pilsner glass with the word 'Time' on one side and 'Smithwicks' on the other.
SOURCE: Liam K/IrishBeerHistory.

We haven’t seen a flared ‘pilsner glass’ in the wild for years – but we might if we go to Ireland, reports Liam K at IrishBeerHistory, in the latest post in his ‘100 Years of Irish Brewing in 50 Objects’ series:

It is an elegant form, if a little top-heavy in appearance when full, although in truth this is balanced by having a thick and heavy base, plus it’s incredibly tactile and extremely practical to drink from, with the width of the mouth of the glass perfectly proportioned for either sipping or gulping its contents. This example from the Smithwick’s brewery in Kilkenny for their forgotten and (ironically) timeline purged Time beer brand has all of those elements, plus a wonderful, thick gold band around its rim that heightens its graceful beauty… Time ales were launched by Smithwick’s in 1960 with the aim of revitalising an ageing brand for more modern times and to celebrate their (so-called) 250th anniversary… The launch meant a complete rebrand for most of the Smithwick’s beers with a new logo, beer labels, coasters and other ephemera, plus of course glassware. Branding on glasses was a relatively new idea here, and Time was probably one of the first beers in Ireland to have its own range of branded glassware.

Finally, from Instagram, it’s Nat Ainscough again, who has been posting pub photos from Glasgow.

For more good reading check out Stan Hieronymus’s round-up from Monday and Alan McLeod’s from Thursday.

Beer history pubs

The Iron Duke and the battle for a union for bar staff

For an ambitious politician in 1930s Liverpool, wealthy brewers were a tempting target, and underpaid bar staff a potential source of power.

When we’re trying to understand what life was like in pubs and breweries in the past local working class histories can be an excellent source.

For example, there’s My Liverpool by Frank Shaw, published in 1971. It contains a hundred or so individual entries, each under their own headings, reflecting the author’s memories and impressions of life in the city during the 20th century.

On a recent dip into this book, which has no index and no real structure, we came across a passage about a local Labour politician and later Lord Mayor of Liverpool, Luke Hogan.

If we measure it by 21st century standards, Hogan is something of a forgotten figure: his Wikipedia page is barely more than a stub. That makes Shaw’s rambling, personal, first-hand observations all the more interesting.

First, he tells us, Hogan was known as ‘The Iron Duke’ not because of his aristocratic bearing, though he was apparently lordly, despite his upbringing in the slums, but simply because it rhymes with ‘Luke’.

He then goes onto say:

When I first met him in the Thirties he was working on the marvellous but hopeless task of organising barmen and barmaids in a union.

Shaw then rambles away from this intriguing point for a while, giving us a broader portrait of Hogan as a sharp political operator with street smarts – like a character from The Wire or, dare we say it, Peaky Blinders.

He then loops back to explain Hogan’s particular interest in pubs:

The licensee [of The Maid of Erin] was the brother of Luke who was a powerful man on the local Watch Committee, well liked by all policemen… Yes, Luke’s defunct school of politicians never missed anything. We could drink after hours because Luke was a magistrate and on the licensing committee. Police, pubs and schools he saw from the outset to be the sources of power and personal repute.

The battle for a barmen’s union

For more detail on Hogan’s campaign to establish a union for bar staff we have to dig around in the newspaper archives. A piece in the Belfast Telegraph from 8 October 1935 has Hogan speaking at a joint meeting of the National Union of Distribute and Allied Workers (NUDAW) and the Amalgamated Transport and General Workers Union (Barmen’s Branch):

Alderman Luke Hogan… described the distributive trade as the biggest sweated industry in the British Isles. Since the year 1922, the workers in this class of industry had increased by over 50 per cent, and of the total number more than 50 per cent were under the age of 21. The industries were expanding, and every big firm, combine and trust was making profits of a phenomenal character. But despite those features, the tenure of employment was shorter, for it was a “blind” occupation into which thousands were brought in at 14 and discarded when they became 18… In a reference to the men and women engaged in public houses, Alderman Hogan, said that if they had barmen as strong as the liquor they sold was weak it would not be long before they took a great step forward in bettering their conditions.

In 1944, Shaw mentions in passing, Hogan angered members of the local Brewers’ Society by surveying NUDAW members employed in their pubs. There’s more on this incident in the newspapers, too: they took Hogan to court.

The questionnaire asked pub managers for details of wages, living conditions, weekly sales, and the number of staff. As far as the brewers were concerned, this was commercially sensitive information, and confidential.

At a hearing in April 1945 Hogan’s defence counsel said:

It is simply an attempt… to uphold and maintain the policy of the brewers to oppose the formation of a trade union. It has been an effective step, and has resulted in the temporary obstruction of the union, and they may feel some justification in that. But I submit this action has no legal foundation. This is the kind of action against which the unions are protected by the Trade Disputes Act.

Hogan’s own testimony (Liverpool Daily Post, 27 April 1945) helpfully fills in some gaps in the story:

[He] said at various times he had attempted to build up an organisation among the workers in the brewing industry. Other unions had made similar efforts, but all got tired of wasting money… Dealing with the effort to establish a Joint Industrial Council, witness said the suggestion was that machinery should be set up to deal exclusively with the on-licensed trade, covering all employees in the trade. The invitation to join in the effort was sent to the plaintiff companies, with the exception of Bent’s, who had always been hostile to organisation in the trade, and it was thought it would be a waste of time to trouble with them. Nothing developed in the way of forming an Industrial Council. In November 1940, there was a largely attended meeting of public-house managers and barmen and others to interest them in the formation of a trade union.

In May 1945, the court declared that Hogan was wrong to ask for information about turnover and staff costs, and shouldn’t do it again. If he did, the brewers could come back to court for an injunction. But he was free to continue to ask individuals about their pay and conditions. (Liverpool Echo, 16 May 1945.)

Bobbing about (we’ve put this in clearer order than it appears in the book) Shaw tells us that after World War II, and after his stint as Lord Mayor, Hogan continued his association with pubs and booze:

I was in Luke’s company in the Forties with other heavy drinkers in the home of a prominent Liverpool businessman. The businessman was temporarily out of the room. His wife, much younger than he, clearly resented his generosity to us, though she must have known, as we did, that he wouldn’t give anything to anyone for nothing. She said: ‘I think you gentlemen should pay for your drinks.’… Luke, elegant as ever, carefully put his drink down and looked down at her, murmuring softly: ‘Madam, you forget. I am a magistrate. If you charge one penny for a drink in this unlicensed room I shall have to summon the police.’

In 1971, Shaw had this to say about the long-term effects of Hogan’s campaign on behalf of bar staff:

[They], especially the barmaids, in Liverpool, remain among the poorest paid workers.

Half a century later again, there are unions bar staff can join, and an active campaign to encourage them to do so. But it remains an ongoing battle.