Beer history pubs

No Voice for ‘Licensed Victuallers’?

Pub, South London: 'Take Courage'.

Fifty years ago, publicans seemed to have a vocal and powerful union on their side — where has it gone?

Reading old editions of the Morning Advertiser from the 1960s and 70s, we were fascinated by the National Union of Licensed Victuallers, which combined belligerent battling for its members with a cycle of lavish banquets.

But in recent debates about the future of pubs, pub companies and ‘the tie’, publicans  have been represented by their own campaign groups, and to some extent by CAMRA and sympathetic MPs — not, as far as we have noticed, by what is now known as the FLVA.

Can anyone explain the politics behind the apparent withering away of their influence? Or point us to a book or article which might explain?

We note that the FLVA’s evidence to the Government’s committee argued in favour of retaining the tie, which presumably put them at odds with many of the publicans they might be expected to represent.

We also wondered whether subscriptions to the NLVA might historically have been subsidised by the Big Six breweries.

Or maybe unions (and banquets) just went out of fashion?

Note: we haven’t done serious research on this so really have no idea if there were multiple national organisations, how they related to each other, or what that the family tree looks like.

5 replies on “No Voice for ‘Licensed Victuallers’?”

I Am Not A Union Historian but I suspect a mix of falling union membership across the board and the amalgamation of almost all single vocation unions into ever larger super unions has played a part. GMB, my union, represents a number of publicans (along with council workers, roadies and possibly even the odd boilermaker…) according to the quarterly magazine they send me…

A major reason for the decline of the influence of the LVA has been the change in the nature of pub tenancies from tied tenancies linked to breweries where the rent was effectively linked to the residential accommodation and the ‘tenant’ was effectively an employee of the brewery to pub company tenancies at a commercial rent and a beer tie.The old style relationship created a common interest in many cases between the brewer and the publican this was particularly so when the LVA and brewers would join forces to oppose the grant of new licences.The status of the tenant as an effective employee meant that there was perhaps a greater common interest between tenants which meant that being a member of an association had greater benefits.Brewery tenants often remained tenants for many years unlike pub company tenants who frequently leave the industry after a short period and the existence of longstanding tenants who had common interests would strengthen the LVA

Before my time, really, but I do remember some of the old time landlords seemingly going on many “dos” all funded by Wilsons etc who paid for thier membership of the NULV. As has been said, with the changing nature of the trade and the consolidation of unions, I would guess that it has been a natural evolution to the present state of affairs.

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