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Thread: What were the 1950s Opening Hours?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2012

    Question What were the 1950s Opening Hours?


    I'm writing a novel set in the mid 1950s and I'd be really grateful for some help. Does anyone know the old pub opening hours from those days? And if you also know the situation for clubs and music venues in the 50s, that would be great too.



  2. #2
    This Space For Hire
    Join Date
    Jan 2010

    Default has:

    "The 1921 Licensing Act allowed pubs to open 8 hours (9 in London) on weekdays, starting no earlier than 11:00 and ending no later than 22:00 (23:00 in London), with a minimum 2-hour break in the afternoon. On Sundays, pubs were only allowed to open for 5 hours. These rules remained little changed until afternoon closing was ended in the 1990's."

    However there was doubtless variation from town to town, so if your book is set somewhere specific you'd have to spend an afternoon in the local records office to get the right answer.

    Next change was the 1964 Licensing Act which extended hours till 10:30 or 11PM in most areas.
    Last edited by NickDavies; 18-06-2012 at 13:33.

  3. #3
    Old & Bitter oldboots's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    God's Own County


    The Sunday hours would have been 12-2 and 7-10 until the extension to 10:30. Weekday "permitted hours" when I was young were 11-2:30 and 6-10:30 but that was 1960s-1970s.

    I remember local variations, our town had one for market days a sign outside one pub said

    Pursuant to the Licensing Act
    the HOURS of 2pm & 3pm
    for the accommodation
    of persons attending

    Another pub had the right to open at 10am Monday to Saturday but I've no idea where that dispensation came from.
    Last edited by oldboots; 18-06-2012 at 17:24.
    Drink drink, whoever you may be,
    we are the drunk and disorderly,
    and we’ll drink more beer wherever we may be,
    and we’ll meet you all in a pub said he.

    Dr Busker

  4. #4
    Pussy Galore No 1 Oggwyn Trench's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Nearer than you think


    Bit before my time but i know some pubs got special dispensation to open longer hours for market workers , the Bachus in Wellington was the designated pub around here and was allowed to open all day on Market days , some London pubs around the markets , Billingsgate etc were allowed to open 24 hours a day to cater for shift workers .
    Another thing that might help is that , speaking for round here is , a lot of pubs mainly catered for one type of worker ie ironworker , miner , farmer , bargee etc , and many mines , ironworks were linked to one pub , this was still pretty common round here up till the mid eighties .
    Theres a Man with a Mullet going Mad with a Mallet in Millets !

  5. #5
    This Space For Hire
    Join Date
    Jan 2010


    There was a lot of variation, depending on the local justices who ruled on such matters until the 2003 Act.

    A quote from Hansard:

    HC Deb 17 May 1922 vol 154 c395W 395W

    Mr. O'CONNOR

    asked the Home Secretary whether his attention has been drawn to the state of affairs existing under the Licensing Act of 1921, owing to the licensing justices of different boroughs being permitted to nominate independent hours for the opening and closing of hotels, restaurants and public-houses; whether he is aware that on the north side of Oxford Street these houses open at 5 p.m. and close at 10 p.m., while on the south side they open at 6 p.m. and close at 11 p.m.; and whether, since such legislation practically concedes at least two hours longer for the consumption of alcohol than was intended by the Licensing Act, namely, one hour at the time of commencement on the north side of Oxford Street and one hour additional time at the closing hours on the south side, he will take steps to remove such anomalies?

    § Mr. SHORTT

    I have no power to take any action in this matter.

    A look through a 70s GBG will reveal a variety of hours, especially for the morning session, with many especially rural areas opening as early as 10AM. I cant find a copy of the 1921 Act to check but I suspect that most of the flexibility in the 1964 Act was carried forward from before. The big change was the 10pm "terminal hour" out of town.

    As I said, if you are writing a book a bit of proper research in the locality you portray get a definitive answer.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2012


    Fascinating. Thanks. In fact the book is set in London, mainly Soho, with just one brief visit to Kent. I think in Soho, people used to drink until closing time and then move to a drinking club, until at least midnight. My guess is that they weren't that well regulated and/or that there was "flexibility".

    The 1953 Licensing Act hasn't been digitised yet by the official site, but the 1964 Act has, and is now online:

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