Penzance’s 19th Century Beer Shops

From the Jour­nal of the Sta­tis­ti­cal Soci­ety of Lon­don, Vol II (1839):

Not any fam­i­lies of this [labour­ing] class brew at home. The num­ber of beer-shops at the same time in both places [Pen­zance and Madron] was 37. The num­ber of pub­lic hous­es in Pen­zance has not var­ied dur­ing the last five years, with the excep­tion of one new house opened about two years ago near some exten­sive rows of hous­es recent­ly built. In Madron they have increased dur­ing the same peri­od from 3 to 5. The num­ber of beer-shops in the town and parish has been in each of the same five years, respec­tive­ly, 28, 36, 41, 41 and 37… In Pen­zance there are only about half-a-dozen skit­tle-ground, called “kayle-alleys,” all of which are attached to pub­lic-hous­es or beer-shops; but out of the town, most of the beer-shops have them. It is stat­ed by a per­son who fre­quents the pub­lic-hous­es in Pen­zance, that no peri­od­i­cal pub­li­ca­tions are tak­en in there exclu­sive­ly for the labour­ing class­es, and that the news­pa­pers which are to be found in them are the provin­cial jour­nals, and such of the Lon­don papers as are gen­er­al­ly read by all class­es of soci­ety.

Give or take a cou­ple that have closed, we reck­on (count­ing on fin­gers) that, these days, there are about fifty pubs in Pen­zance and Madron, so slight­ly more than in the 1830s, but then the pop­u­la­tion has tripled.

One thought on “Penzance’s 19th Century Beer Shops”

  1. Fas­ci­nat­ing. Con­sid­er­ing those “beer shops” (by which I assume the writer means beer­hous­es) must all have sprung up in the eight years since the Beer­house Act of 1830 (unless some for­mer pub­lic hous­es switched to the cheap­er and eas­i­er beer­house licence, which I’ve nev­er seen any evi­dence of), that implies the num­ber of out­lets sell­ing beer in the dis­trict more than dou­bled in six years, before eas­ing back slight­ly. What would be inter­est­ing to do is look at the 1841 cen­sus and see what trades were fol­lowed by peo­ple in hous­es that were also beer­hous­es: I’d bet in a large num­ber of cas­es the wife kept the beer­house while the hus­band worked as some­thing else. (I’d also bet that in a fair num­ber of beer­hous­es the hus­band’s trade was reflect­ed in the name of the estab­lish­ment, eg at the Three Horse­shoes the hus­band was a far­ri­er.)

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