One of the oddest, most wonderful moments researching 20th Century Pub was stumbling across my own great grandfather in the archives.
I was reading through volume after volume of minutes from the London brewery Barclay Perkins, tracing the story of their relationship with the Trust House movement and the development of their enormous improved pubs such as the Fellowship Inn, Bellingham.
Then, suddenly, there was a reference to an off licence round the corner from where I grew up, and a few lines down, the name of my great grandfather.
I don’t know all that much about him although I have photos and the odd document. I know he served in World War I which seems to have screwed him up somehow and during the 1920s he ran a grocer’s shop and off-licence in Walthamstow, which eventually ended badly.
From the minutes, I learned that Barclay Perkins owned the freehold on the shop and leased it to him on a short-term basis, with the lease expiring in 1930. In 1925, Barclays were approached by a wine merchant’s, Yardley’s London & Provincial Stores Ltd, who would pay more rent, and a lease premium to boot. They were also keen to do some bottling for the brewery, as they already did for Watney, although the board were less interested in this as Barclay Perkins did their own London bottling.
There’s an interesting insight into how these things worked: my great grandad bought beer from the brewery and also paid a royalty of 2d per dozen bottles of non-company beer sold. They were rather sniffy about his business generally; “…[Company] purchases were small and the royalty only amounted to some £12 per annum”. Also, the implication in the minutes is that Barclay Perkins would probably find another site and trade the licence.
Someone was dispatched to “inspect the neighbourhood” and report back. The following minutes record that the intrepid company rep had found out that the local magistrates would only issue a new licence if two were given up. In the meeting after that, the decision to grant Yardley’s a 21 year licence was deferred. It then goes quiet for a few months, and then the Board are asked whether they would consider it again – and then that’s it.
My great grandad continued to run the shop after 1930, so I guess the Yardley’s deal fell through and Barclay Perkins had to put up with his disappointing trade for a while longer.