The number of beer houses, inns, hotels and public
houses, per head of population, in bygone days, would seem astonishing nowadays. It should
be borne in mind however, that many of these establishments were run as a second business,
so that directory entries of the sort "saddler and innkeeper" are not uncommon.
The number of inns was drastically reduced in Carlisle during the First World War, when
the city's brewing and alcohol selling were brought under state control, in an effort to
reduce the incidence of drunkenness and violence among the immigrant workers from the Gretna munitions factories, who would descend on the city with money
a-plenty, and a terrific thirst. Unfortunately, many arrived by the last train, just five
minutes before the pubs closed for the night, and the stampede for drink can scarcely be
The Minister responsible for munitions, David LLoyd George (with an admittedly puritanical background) decided upon an "experiment" (an expression also used later in America for the more draconian Prohibition) whereby the production, distribution and sale of alcoholic drinks would be controlled by the state. Almost all of the city's pubs were bought, and many subsequently closed, and those which remained open did so under a strict code of rules. The aim was to encourage moderate drinking in pleasant, clean surroundings, preferably as an accompaniment to meals. One rule, and probably one in which Carlisle was a pioneer, was the introduction of a ban on the sale of beer to under-eighteens; in previous times, beer had been the normal drink for all - an altogether safer drink than water.The "experiment," usually known as "The State Management Scheme," subsequently conducted in a more relaxed fashion, continued for another 55 years, in which time the people of Carlisle came to be very fond of their "state" beer, and from which the State itself earned a tidy profit. And sufficient money had been re-invested that Carlisle could boast of some architecturally distinctive public houses, many the work of the architect Harry Redfern, one of which was named after him (The Redfern). When the government announced the sell-off of the brewery and pubs, most local drinkers were devastated - they knew that the mass produced beers of other areas, where the beer was "brewed by accountants", bore no comparison with the beers they had grown up with. However, the tide of reform could not be stopped, and the city's pubs were all sold in 19711, and are now largely in the hands of the national brewers. It's sad that an experiment which came to be enjoyed by the inhabitants should be brought to an end against the wishes of the only people it really affected.
In the following tables are listed the pubs, inns, beer houses and breweries from directories dated 1847 and 1901.
Andrew Marvel, 21 Botchergate
In addition, there were (un-named) beer houses in Annetwell Street (4), Botchergate (3), Caldcoates(2), Corporation Road, Damside, East Tower Street (2), John Street, King Street (2), London Road, Rickergate, Shaddongate, Water Street, and West Walls.
The breweries were
Hodgson, Sir Rd. & Co., Old Brewery, Caldew Bridge
1. More accurately, the decision to sell was taken in 1971, with the actual sale in 1973. Thanks to M. Eden Irving for the correction.
19 June 2015
© Steve Bulman