Here’s an odd snippet I found in the newspaper archives whilst looking for something completely different, which as anyone who’s ever researched any local history will tell you, is generally the way all the best stuff is found. It’s a remarkable two-part story from the Lichfield Mercury, and the first article transcribed below was published Friday, 18th March 1921. I’ve removed the names of the defendants in respect to any surviving relatives who may be around.
It seems that even 92 years ago, police were involved in stakeouts of local dens of iniquity and obtaining warrants to raid them. I am astounded that this stuff was going on so long ago, which does serve to illustrate that not much changes.
It’s worth pointing out that if one looks through the archives of this time and the decades before it, the local papers were full every week of reports of drunken violence and mischief. It seems that binge drinking and alcohol-fuelled idiocy are not as new a phenomena as we maybe believe…
BROWNHILLS WORKING MEN’S CLUB.
At Cannock Police Court, on Monday application was made by the police for the striking off the register of the Brownhills Progressive Working Men’s Club and Institute, Hednesford Road, Brownhills.
Mr. J. Warner (Stafford) represented the police, and Mr. F. Cooper (Walsall) appeared for Mrs. H, the stewardess, and the secretary (Mr. S), Hednesford Road. Brownhills. At Cannock Police Court, on Monday application was made by the police for the striking off the register of the Brownhills Progressive Working Men’s Club and Institute, Hednesford Road, Brownhills.
Mr. Warner said the grounds of the application were that the club was not conducted in good faith, that there was frequent drunkenness on the premises, and that illegal sales of beer had taken place on the premises. The club had been kept under observation by the police on seven occasions, and on five of the dates drunken men were seen to leave the club.
Mrs. H, the stewardess, was a widow, whose husband was formerly a licensed victualler in the locality, and it appeared that the club originated in the desire to retain the business formerly carried on by Mr. H, and to get behind the licensing laws. The books were a farce, and it was impossible for anyone to tell from the books how the club stood financially. The account books were illusory. Quoting from the minute book, Mr. Warner read extracts from resolutions deciding that each member of the committee should have two pints of beer each at the meetings of the committee.
Mr. — was to have three pints of beer per week; Mr. — and Mr. — were to have two pints of beer each for conducting a tournament, and the handicapper a tournament was given three pints of beer for his work. All that the club seemed to exist for was to provide cards and beer for the members. The premises were totally unsuitable for club purposes, and the club seemed to be carried on for the benefit of Mrs. H, and as a subterfuge for doing business which should he done on properly licensed premises.
Superintendent Morrey spoke to visiting the club premises on February 5th with a search warrant. The premises comprised a room 12ft. souare. used as a drinking place. a smoke-room 18ft. square, and a kitchen 8ft. by 9ft. which was also used for drinking, and for the domestic purposes of the stewardess. There was no billiard or bagatelle table for the use of the members, and there were no books whatever for the members to read. The elub register showed a membership of 135.
P.s. Lee gave evidence in support of the application, reference being made by witness to the visit of women and young girls to the club for the purchase of beer and stout.
After the magistrates had been sitting seven hours, and as there were still about a dozen witnesses to be called, the case was adjourned until Tuesday, March 22nd, this being the earliest date suitable to the respective parties.