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17-09-2018, 08:32
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Some more pub numbers for you. I hope you enjoy them.

"Number of Licensed Houses.
A PARLIAMENTARY Return, giving the number of houses licensed for the sale of intoxicating liquors in each licensing district of England and Wales, has recently been issued. From this we learn that there are altogether 105,484 houses licensed for the sale of intoxicating liquors to be consumed on the premises, and 23,024 off-licences; this gives an average of one house to 202 persons on the basis of the last census; 67,009 on licences and 13,270 oflicences are in the counties, and 38,475 on licences and 9,754 off-icences in the boroughs; in the counties there is one licensed house to every 219 persons, and in the boroughs one to every 173 persons. There are altogether 4,188 six-day licences, 274 early closing licences, and 703 combined six-day and early closing licences in England and Wales. Wales having a Sunday Closing Act, has the largest proportion of the six-day licences. In the boroughs licensed houses are far more numerous than in the counties ; the ratios range from 1 to every 66 persons in Banbury to 1 to 480 persons in Jarrow; in the counties the range is even wider, for the Rhyl division of Flintshire has the largest proportion of licensed houses, there being one to every sixty persons, whilst in the Lower Llanidloes Division of Montgomery shire there is only one to 613 persons. As a rule,licensed houses appear to be more numerous in proportion to the population in the purely agricultural, whilst in the manufacturing counties the proportion is lower. Taking the principal boroughs, we find the City of London comes first, with one licensed house to 80 persons, and there is one licensed house to 123 persons in Portsmouth, 130 in Liverpool, 131 in Manchester, 152 in Sheffield, 165 in Leicester, 167 in Nottingham, 170 in Salford, 173 in Bristol, 175 in Hull, 183 in Birmingham, 190 in Bradford, 195 in Newcastle, 248 in Liverpool, and 271 in Leeds."
"The Brewers' Guardian 1889", 1889, page 178.
It doesn't surprise me that the City of London had the most pubs per population. Because the pubs in the City really serve the area's working not resident population. Nor is it a shock that Leeds scores relatively poorly. When I lived there it was notably less well pubbed than some other cities I knew, such as Nottingham.

How does that match up with today? Let's take a look:

UK On and Off licences in 2016

On licences
Off licences
population per on licence

England and Wales


Northern Ireland



Office for National Statistics (GB) https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/populationandmigration/populationestimates

2017 Statistical Handbook of the BBPA, pages 64 - 66.

Surprised at the high number of on licences? That's because the numbers include things other than pubs, such as residential hotels and restaurants Though not clubs). I'd have preferred to use just the pub numbers, but after 2004 I only have those for Northern Ireland. The total nummber of pubs in the UK is probably around 50,000. Which equates to one pub per 1,175 people.

Note that the current number of off licences is around triple that of 1889. But that's slightly deceptuve because in the 19th century most off sales were from pubs. Usually in the form of jugs of draught beer.

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