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(Paras. 1 to 6)

Pubs Rationalisation

From 1961


2. Breweries In Charge :  3. Rationalisation   5. Taking Stock :  6. Handing Over

1. : Introduction

As mentioned regarding the  Bystanders Society
survey  of 1961, and - retrospectively - to a
survey  by Ken Chapman in 1984, pubs
closures were a grim feature of the 1960s
and early-1970s, in particular.

It is important to sketch the history of the local
breweries around that period; although this is
covered in detail  elsewhere.  So, briefly :-

  • Morgan's Brewery tied-houses were split
        between Bullard's and S. & P. in May 1961.
  • The two receiving breweries were
        taken over by Watney Mann in Nov. 1963.
  • All tied houses were conveyed to
        Watney Mann in 1966/7.

  • ^Top^

2. : Breweries In Charge

Hence, prior to 1961, three breweries were
each responsible for their own closures policy.
It is, of course, nonsense to suggest that they
did not bother to close any pubs before 1961;
but the pace of change quickened a lot once
Morgan's were out of the picture.

Similarly, once Watney Mann (East Anglia) had
full day-to-day control, pub closures from
1966/7 onwards were their sole reponsibility.

In between those times the situation was very
mixed - Bullard's and S. & P. had their own pubs,
plus  [a share of]  Morgan's, to handle
- for some 5 or 6 years altogether; while the
Parent company was looking over their
shoulders for the final 3 or 4 years.

3. : Rationalisation

This was the term breweries preferred
when dealing with the closure of pubs.

Accordingly, a joint committee
(Bullard's and S. & P.) was set up with the title
Property Rationalisation Committee.
However it may not have met earlier than
the Summer of 1964.
If so, this almost certainly followed pressure
from Watney's (nominally in charge of both
breweries since the previous November).

So their first task was to find out what had been
going on from 1961, or indeed before; when
breweries were doing their Own Thing.

Acknowledgement

Almost all of the material above is
taken from    a publication  of the
Centre of East Anglian Studies.
 

4. : Early Moves

Since October 1961, 122 S. & P. houses and
81 Bullard's houses had been closed. But it is
vital  to point out that these numbers are
comparatively small; being for the whole of the
Eastern region(s) covered by the two breweries.

So the results for the  Norwich  area can only
be gauged in broad, comparable?, terms.

Included in the above figures were 25 S. & P.
pubs and 14 Bullard's, forming part of the
list (lists?) of cases "earmarked" in 1962 as
- by some definition - uneconomic.  

5. : Taking Stock

The new committee then looked at the trading
situation in the last recorded year (1963).
They adopted a clear yardstick :-
100 barrels per annum per pub.

This revealed 363 S. & P., and 186 Bullards,
missing the target. The figures were scary,
so the target was quickly lowered to 70 barrels;
giving a grand total of 256 potential closures
not 549.

Despite the hit-list having halved, more
back-tracking reduced the list to 172 pubs,
and finally to 85 pubs.
The brewery shares of the 85  hard cases
were 52 (S. & P.) and 33 (Bullard's).  

6. : Handing Over

In the event, things went rather "better"
than anticipated in the 18 months from
the (inaugural?) meeting of the committee
i.e. up to February 1966.

The current meeting was informed of 102
(rather than 85) closures; which (relative to
the  original  target of 100 barrels)
left 447 below, instead of 549.

The 447 breakdown was 309 (S. & P.) and
138 (Bullard's); the proportions of "successful"
closures being 15% and 26% resp.

No record of Bullard's getting an achievement
award . . . . but it should be borne in mind that
Bullard's had - historically - a higher proportion
of pubs in the  Norwich  area than S. & P.

Looking forward, there was only one year left
until February 1967, when S. & P.'s pubs
legally passed into Watney hands.

If Watneys were to stick to the 100-barrel
target, there remained almost 450 pubs
in peril of closure.
Some 6 1/2 years would see the job
finished, given the rate achieved by
the interim Joint Committee.

But was it??


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