The sobering influence of the church, 1936 style

Top friend of the Brownhills Blog, and curator and amateur local historian behind the excellent Lichfield Lore, Lichfeldian has turned up a real gem. The fellow blogger recently spotted the stub of a historical article in the Lichfield Mercury which she thought may have been of interest to readers here. After some conversation, I thought this was an excellent find, and the good lady selflessly obtained the full text from the archives for me. This was an act of genuine felicity, for which I’m very thankful. This is a captivating piece and I thank Lichfeldian for the dedication required to transcribe it.

Just watch that ale. It’s a killer. Lichfeldian – I owe you a night on the milk stout….

Young People “Helplessly Drunk”
Evangelical Mission Outing at Brownhills
Licensee Heavily Fined

June 1936

The visit of a Christian Evangelical Guild’s party to a Brownhill’s inn had a sequel at Brownhill’s Petty Sessions on Wednesday when John Roberts 110, Thomas St, Wolverhampton and Majorie Husband, 39, Whittaker St, Wolverhampton, were charged with being drunk on licensed premises and George Humphries, licensee at the Railway Tavern, Lichfield Road, Brownhills was charged with permitting the offence.

Mr Cooper stated that the two defendants were very young people and members of a young party of people who came from Wolverhampton in 2 motor coaches.  They called first at the Boot Inn, at Walsall Wood, where they had a short stay.  Then they came to the Railway Tavern, about 60 people being in the party. Four or five of the party went for a walk around Brownhills, while the rest of the young people went into the inn and were in, or about the place, until nearly closing time.  At 9.45pm PC Watts & PC Jeffs were on duty near the Parish Church.  They heard sounds of singing and shouting from the Lichfield Rd.  They went there and saw young people going backwards and forwards to the coaches.

One girl got into the coach in an extremely drunken condition and was being held up by 2 other people.  Also, 2 other young people were staggering to and from the coaches.  Inside the passage of the inn were Husband and Roberts, so drunk they didn’t know where they were and were behaving more or less like congenital idiots.

Some were quite unsteady and shouting and singing.  In the first coach was an 18 year old girl resting with her head and arms on a seat.  He considered she was drunk.  In view of the condition of the people outside, the witness went into the house and saw Miss Husband, who was drunk, and a young man assisting her.  Also in the passage was the young man, Roberts, who had a young girl assisting him.  He was drunk, although not as bad as Miss Husband.

The boot in. Sadly, I have no period images of The Railway Tavern...

Albert Thomas Hardwick, owner of the motor coach stated he was driving one of the vehicles.  They started from Wolverhampton at approx 6.30pm and called to the Boot Inn at Walsall Wood.  They arrived at the Railway Tavern at 8.  He tried to get them into the coaches at 10 past 9 but as some had gone up into town, others dwindled back into the inn.  When police arrived, his attention was drawn to 3 passengers who were arm in arm and stumbling about.

Humphries the licensee said there were nearly 200 people in the house.  PC Watts walked into the dance room at 9.25 and at 9.45 he invited witnesses outside.  He didn’t see anyone in the house worse for drink and if he had he would have turned them out.  As he didn’t go into the coach, there was no opportunity for him to judge if Husband was drunk or not.

Witness pointed out 3 people to the licensee who said ‘Certainly, yes, they are the worse for it’.

In reply to Mr Cooper, none of the passengers showed any signs of drunkenness.  Witness was then shown some of his writing in a police notebook, in which he referred to 3 girls, but the defendant Husband was not one of them.
Mr Cooper: I am going to ask the bench to treat you as hostile.
Magistrates’ Clerk: Speak the truth
Mr Cooper: Is it true of the 3 girls?
Witness: Yes
Mr Cooper then read the paragraph which stated that 3 girls were drunk and incapable and asked: Is that true or not?
Witness: I can’t certify anyone as drunk.
Mr Cooper: There were 3 incapable and then this girl suffering from a bilious attack.
Witness: Yes

PC Jeffs said one girl had her head on the seat and appeared to be drunk. Husband was in the public house. He saw her coming from the passage at the front of the house.  She was helplessly drunk.  Roberts was in the same condition.

Witness hadn’t seen either girl or Roberts in the house.  When he signed his statement he intended to say they looked the worse for drink.  He made an error in what he was reading and signing.

Annie Humphries, wife of the licensee said at no time was anyone worse for drink in the house.

Miss Husband said she had never had a drink before in her life, but had had 3 milk stouts.

Phillip Bishop of the Christian Evangelical Mission said Miss Husband and the last witness were members of his guild which had never been on a charabanc ride before.  They were both abstainers.

The licensee was fined £5 with £4 17 shilling costs.  Roberts and Husbands were fined 10s each.

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5 Responses to The sobering influence of the church, 1936 style

  1. Kate says:

    It was a pleasure! Thanks for all the support with my blog :0)
    I’d never heard of milk stout before. I’ve read that it’s a sweet (and nutritious!) stout brewed with lactose. It seems some time in the 60s or 70s, the name ‘Milk Stout’ was banned for being misleading, as there wasn’t actually any milk in it. However, it seems at least one independent brewery is currently selling Milk Stout under that name, so perhaps the rules have changed in some way?
    I’ll be on the lookout for one to sample. Just the one mind. Don’t want to end up in the Lichfield Mercury!

    • Makeson was the favoured milk stout I believe. It was certainly on sale here until the nineties. Sweeter than Guinness, believe it was commonly drunk with Vimto. Don’t know if it’s still about, though.

      Your contribution was wonderful, thank you so much…

      Best wishes


  2. CAZ says:

    if i remember correctly it was Ena Sharples favourite tipple.
    Thanks to Kate and Bob for a very funny article, but it’s a sad fact that far too many of todays young are ‘worse for it’ every weekend.
    I wonder what the fine would equate to in todays money?
    200 people in the The Railway Tavern at one time?
    Reminds me of my youth and the disco’s there.It was packed back then. Unfortunately…… I confess, that I too, but only occasionally [cross my fingers, hope to die] was ‘worse for it’. Glad I never ended up in the dock lol

  3. D.Evans says:

    Hi Bob
    a local tale..may be true.. but passed on for enjoyment and mirth……
    The local Salvation Army once took their banner
    “Jesus saves fallen women” into a local hostelry, quite possibly the Boot, in the Good Old Days….and left smartish when they were met with cries of
    “Ask Him to save one for me”
    Good old Uncle Levi , champion whittler!

    Being a court reporter was a very difficult job in those days!

    A wonderful article to read and chuckle over
    kind regards, and thanks, Kate!
    David Evans

  4. kate Goodall says:

    Mackesons is indeed still about. I use it in my beef stew. Gives the most wonderfully tasty gravy.

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