We only have two sources of information on the National Society for the Promotion of Pure Beer (NSPPB, according to their official crest): a 1961 Daily Mirror article (18 December, p.5) and various paraphrasings of the same United Press copy about ‘wacky British societies’ from 1963. And, as it happens, we’d guess the latter was cribbed from the former, so it’s next to useless.
What do we know? The NSPPB was founded in around 1923 by Mr E.D. La Touche of Sussex. Looking into birth records, he’s probably the Edmund Digges La Touche born in Kensington, London, in 1882. Although he’s coy about where he lives when asked by the Mirror journalist — “It’s somewhere in Sussex… I won’t say where because I’m a church sidesman. The congregation might get the wrong idea.” — he died in Chichester in 1980.
Mr La Touche’s Christmas address to the other members of the society boasted of 13,218 visits to pubs over the 38 years of its existence, all ‘in the cause of Better Beer’. Those gathered — all three of them, including La Touche’s son Peter — raised their pint glasses and cheered. (The other members, in case you’re interested, were Roland Jones and Dudley Lee.)
A couple of observations:
- If The Society for the Preservation of Beers from the Wood paved the way for CAMRA, could this even smaller ‘campaign’ group have in turn inspired the SPBW in some way?
- Campaigning for ‘pure beer’ is just one of several routes CAMRA could have gone down, and a theme they certainly flirted with. (Post to follow…)
- Mr La Touche lived to 98, while Becky Willeter made 90. Arthur Millard lived to 83. Could being obsessive about beer possibly be good for you?