The Western Chronicle 07 Mar 1924 County Brewster Sessions inc Objections to the Renewal of Licenses at Martock Coate Ilchester Ash East Coker Odcombe

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The Western Chronicle. Friday 07 Mar 1924

Page 10 Column 2-5


COUNTY BREWSTER SESSIONS.

NINE LICENSES OBJECTED TO.

FIVE REFERRED TO THE COMPENSATION AUTHORITY.

At the County Brewster Sessions on Wednesday no less than nine objections to the renewal of licenses were made. Of these, objections were raised to three licenses at Martock, one to a licensed house at Coate, two to licensed houses at Ilchester, one to a licensed house at Ash, another to a license held in the parish of East Coker, and another to the license of a house at Odcombe. With the exception of the last mentioned the owners and tenants were represented by Mr. C. F. SAUNDERS, solicitor, of Crewkerne, and the owners and tenant of the Odcombe house were represented by Mr. J. A. MAYO, solicitor, of Yeovil. The hearing of the cases took some four or five hours and the Justices decided to renew four licenses and referred the remaining five to the compensation authorities, to consider at the Quarter Sessions.

The licenses of the following were renewed: The Bell Inn, Ash; The Odcombe Inn, Odcombe; The Bakers' Arms, Martock; and the Cow Inn, Ilchester. The following licenses were referred to the Compensation Authority:- The Rose and Crown, Martock; The New Inn, Coate, Martock; The Duke of Edinburgh, East Coker; The George Hotel, Martock; and the Swan Inn, Ilchester.

The presiding Justices were: Col. F. N. Quantock SHULDHAM (chairman), Col. H. Carey BATTEN, O.B.E., Lieut.-Col. J. B. H. GOODDEN, Major J. W. GOODFORD, Capt. E. A. B. CLIVE, Capt. OSBORNE, and G. St. John MILDMAY.

THE SWAN INN, ILCHESTER.

In regard to the Swan Inn, Ilchester, which is the property of Messrs. Baxter, of Sherborne Brewery, and the license of which is held by Miss A. YARD, Mr. C. F. SAUNDERS, solicitor, of Crewkerne, on behalf of the owner and licensee, said that in order to save the time of the Bench the owners had determined to consent to this house being referred to the authorities as the subject of compensation.

P.s. WHEELER gave evidence. The population of the district, he said, was 13,987. There were 37 beer houses “on,” 20 beer houses “off,” four cider houses “off,” and one cider license, a total of 62, which worked out at 225 of the population to each house. The house was very little used, was in poor condition, and it was in a bad position for trade. The population of the parish was 449, and there were four licensed houses there. The close proximity of two other houses was sufficient to cater for the inhabitants of the district.

The Chairman said the parties agreed that the license should be referred for compensation, the license being renewed provisionally.

THE COW INN, ILCHESTER.

In regard to the Cow Inn, Ilchester, Mr SAUNDERS indicated that its reference to the compensation authorities would be opposed.

P.s. WHEELER gave the figures as to population, and the number of licenses in the district, as in the first case. When referring to the population, the licensee of the house interrupted from the back of the Court, and asked to give evidence on the point, but was informed that if he could not be quiet, he would be sent from the Court.

P.s. WHEELER went on to say that there was no objection to the character of the license or the licensee. The house was, however, in a good position for trade.

Replying to Mr. SAUNDERS, the Sergeant said he had observed that this house was a stopping place for char-a-bancs, but that it was not so much used now, under restricted hours.

Mr. SAUNDERS: Ilchester is an angling place.

Witness: There are very few fishermen there. The Sergeant added, however, that fishing contests had been held there. The licensee was seriously injured in the war. There was a yard belonging to the house, sufficient to accommodate half a dozen motor cars. There was also stabling there.

FETTERING” THE JUSTICES.

Mr. SAUNDERS said he was concerned in this and six other cases, and so would first make a few general remarks which would apply to all the houses, and then deal with the merits of each case as he came to them. It was now well known that these objections would not have been taken if it had not been for the resolution passed by the Compensation Authority at the last Quarter Sessions. A circular letter seemed to have been sent to all Clerks of Petty Sessional districts in the county, and also to the Press. The circular gave certain statistics showing the population of the county, and the number of licensed houses in the county, which showed that there was one house for 284 of the population. Statistics also showed the population and the number of licenses in each Petty Sessional Division, and gave the number of inhabitants to each licensed house in the respective divisions. If it had stopped there there might have been no cause for complaint, but it went on to request the licensing justices to take steps to reduce the number of licenses in their respective divisions to the county average of 284. The Bench knew that the license renewal authority was the justices of each Petty Sessional Division. It had been so for centuries, and they had done their work very well. The renewal of licenses was at their own discretion, and without being dictated to by the Compensation Authority, or any other authority. He was prepared to show that the circular was illegal.

The Chairman remarked that the point did not affect the magistrates, who have a perfect right to refer any house they like for compensation. “We cannot go into your point. If you want to make the point you can refer it to the Compensation Authorities.”

Mr. SAUNDERS: I should have a very poor chance against those who sent out that resolution. If you reduce it to the average of the county,” continued Mr. SAUNDERS, “you will act in defiance of standard cases, which says your discretion should be exercised.” Mr. SAUNDERS quoted a judgment, which stated that justices “ought to consider each case on its merits, and not lay down beforehand any general rule fettering your discretion.” That was precisely what the Compensation Authorities had tried to do. “There was no need mincing matters, and they have asked you to throw your local knowledge to the winds and to reduce the number of houses in your division to the same average as there is for the whole country. Now, gentlemen, that is asking you to lay down a general rule fettering your discretion. If you act upon such a rule that is what you are doing.”

The Chairman: You will find each case dealt with on its merits by us.

Mr. SAUNDERS: That is what I am asking you to do. The Compensation Authorities were formed to prevent houses being “snuffed out” in great numbers at once. The licensing laws were to be administered for the benefit of those who required reasonable refreshments, and they were not to be run by temperance people.

UNDESIBABLE TO CLOSE THIS HOUSE.”

The Chairman: Let us get on with the case now.

Mr SAUNDERS went on to say that if this particular house was closed, other houses would be more full than they were at present, which would be undesirable, as it gave the landlord less chance of exercising such reasonable supervision, and so would conduce to there being excessive drunkenness.

He would call evidence showing that the existence of this house was necessary for the district, the best test of which, he supposed, was the trade down. Members of the two angling associations in Yeovil used the place as their headquarters when fishing at Ilchester; and also anglers from Bath and Bristol used the house as their headquarters. It was an admirably appointed house, and by closing it the justices would not do good to a single soul. They would take away the living of a man who had served his country in the war with distinction. In any case, this was not an opportune time to do away with licenses. Unemployment was so rife everywhere that the sales had gone down at every house. As the justices knew, the compensation was based on the number of barrels of beer sold, and the trade done during the past three years. It meant that if the license was taken away at a lean time like this, the compensation was going to be lean. Messrs. Baxter had one license in that district taken from them 10 years ago, so he (Mr. SAUNDERS) appealed to the Justices not to inflict further hardship upon them, or upon the tenant, and upon the public.

The licensee said he was one of the first six men who enlisted on mobilisation, in 1914 at Sherborne. He went to Gallipoli, and was wounded in almost every limb he had. He was unable to work out of doors but could attend to his present business. He sold a hogshead of cider a week, beside beer. Referring to the visits of anglers to his house, he said his wife owned the best bit of fishing in the neighbourhood. He submitted a petition signed by customers, asking for the renewal of the license.

Wm. E. SHARP, manager for Messrs. Baxter's Brewery, Sherborne, gave evidence as to the amount of beer supplied the house for sale. It averaged 66 barrels a year for the last five years. Unemployment had caused a drop during the past three years in the supplies to the whole of the firm's houses, of 30 per cent.

James Walter ROWLANDS, retired solicitor, living at Ilchester, said he “fished,” and he was able to corroborate the statement that anglers patronised this house. He was certainly of the opinion that the house was necessary for the neighbourhood, and that is would be a loss and cause inconvenience if it were taken away.

The Justices retired to consider the case and on their return the Chairman (Col. F. N. Quantock SHULDHAM) said they had agreed to renew the license.

THE GEORGE HOTEL, MARTOCK.

The license of the George Hotel, Martock, was then considered. P.s. WHEELER said the house was owned by Messrs. Joseph BRUTTON, of Yeovil, and the licensee was Mr. W. E. CHANT. The house was in a good position for trade, and it had a good yard accommodation, the most capacious yard in Martock. The White Hart Hotel was 210 yards away, and the White Horse Inn 500 yards away. The population of Martock was 2,065, which averaged 150 for each house. There were four fully licensed houses, eight beer houses “on,” and one “off,” in the town. This house had as good accommodation as any house in the town, and better outside accommodation. Mr. CHANT had been the licensee for[?] over 30 years.

Replying to Mr. SAUNDERS, the witness said this was the nearest hotel to the church, and people attending the church often left vehicles at the George Hotel. He did not know if it was the oldest house in the town, but it certainly was old.

Fredk. CHANT, son of the licensee, who was ill, gave evidence as to church-goers and business people putting up their conveyances at the hotel yard. The hotel was near the Public Hall, where meetings were held, and people attending the meetings used the hotel yard for their conveyances; also some put up for the night there. About a hogshead of cider a fortnight was sold at the hotel.

Miss Constance Geraldine BLOMFIELD, who resides opposite the hotel, and whose late father was Vicar of Norton-sub-Hamdon, said the hotel was very much used on Sundays by worshippers at the church for putting up cars and traps. It was also used by persons attending meetings at the Public Hall. In her view, as a resident of Martock for 27 years, she thought this hotel was necessarily required by the public, and people attending the church or Public Hall would be greatly inconvenienced if it was taken away.

Arthur Hew Bradford FANSHAW, manager of the firm of Messrs. Brutton and Co., Ltd., said this house was reputed to be the oldest house in Martock. In 1921, 45½ barrels of beer were supplied, and 132 dozen bottles of beer. In 1922 the figures were 35⅝ gallons, and 48 dozen bottles. In 1923 they were 33¼ gallons, and 48 dozen bottles. Wines and spirits sold in 1921 were 41 gallons, 1922 38[?] gallons, and in 1923 it was 37 gallons. The drop was due to unemployment, and the high price. For a house in a country place it did quite a good trade.

Mr. SAUNDERS said the house was before the Justices for consideration in 1910. There was no difference as far as he knew, in the circumstances then and now. It had been said that the newest rather than oldest license should go, if any had to go, and further, this house had the best of accommodation, and he contended that the people who attended church should be considered in this matter. When the case was previously before the Justices the late Vicar was a witness in support of a renewal of the license.

The Bench decided to refer the license to the Compensation Authority.

THE BAKERS ARMS INN, MARTOCK.

In regard to the Bakers Arms Inn, Martock, belonging to the Crewkerne United Breweries, Police-Sergeant WHEELER said it was a two-storey cottage, with no yard or back. It was in fair condition, and in a good position for trade. The Railway Hotel, a fully licensed house, was 58 yards away, and the White Horse Inn was 480 yards away. The population was 159 persons to each house. The accommodation was not so good as that of the other house in the area, and he considered it could be dispensed with without inconvenience to the public.

Replying to Mr. SAUNDERS, the Sergeant said there was a fair tra e [sic] there on Market days, and it was the nearest house to the station.

Mrs. FARRANT said she had been the licensee for 20 years, and her husband was the previous licensee. She supplied teas and plenty of people came from away and called at the place. On Market days dealers called there, and from the foundry opposite and other works near, men had their dinners at the house.

Mr. ISAACS, manager of the Crewkerne United Breweries, Ltd., said this was the only house belonging to his firm in Martock. Except as occasioned by death, there had been only one change in the licensee. The average sale of beer for the last three years was 47 barrels a year, and cider, 15⅔ hogsheads. It was a very good trade for such a house.

Fredk. JOHNSON, manager of Bradford and Sons, Martock, who stated that he passed the house several times daily, gave evidence as to the apparent trade done at the house, and expressed the opinion that the house was absolutely necessary.

Thomas W. RICHARDS, manager to the Somerset Trading Company at Martock, Fredk. N. SKINNER, manager of the Martock Gas Works, Gaius VINCENT, foreman engineer at Messrs. Sibley's Works, also gave similar evidence.

Mr. SAUNDERS described the evidence against referring this house to the Compensation Authority as overwhelming. He added that 164 persons had signed a petition for the retention of the house.

The Bench decided to renew the license.

THE ROSE AND CROWN INN, MARTOCK.

Police-Sergeant WHEELER said the owners of this house were Messrs. Baxter, of Sherborne, and the licensee. - Preston. The house served a good number of the population, and did a good trade, but the inside accommodation was not so good.

Replying to Mr. SAUNDERS, the Sergeant said the two other houses near by belonged to one firm, but not to Messrs. Baxter. One of the other houses was objected to some years ago. The Rose and Crown did more trade than the other two houses.

The licensee said he had held the license for 18 years, never having been in difficulties. There was accommodation for motors. He did a very big cider-trade – about a hogshead and a half a week.

Mr. SHARPE gave evidence as to the amount of beer supplied to the house by Messrs. Baxter, this averaging 76 barrels annually for the past five years.

H. H. COBDEN, a member of the Board of Guardians and a Parish Councillor, gave evidence. He thought a very big trade was done at this house, and as a parish official he considered it was as necessary to the public as any house.

Alfred W. BEST, produce merchant, and H. J. WILLIES, farmer, also gave evidence.

Mr. SAUNDERS submitted a petition, signed by 145 persons, asking for the license to be renewed. This was a case, he said, which absolutely “dictated” that the license should be renewed. Why take away this house and leave two others up the hill, and so inconvenience the public who lived near this particular house?

The Bench decided to refer the house for compensation, the license being provisionally renewed.

THE NEW INN, COATE, MARTOCK.

P.s. WHEELER said the owners of this house were Messrs. Lang's, Hambridge. It was not in a very good position for trade, but was in good condition. Coate was a hamlet was a population of about 100, and he considered this license was not required, as the needs of the public could be met by the other house. The licensee was 86 years of age, and his wife 83. They also carried on a little gr cery [sic] business there. They had been there 36[?] years. The trade of the house was very small.

Mr. LANG gave evidence as to the trade of the house, which he agreed was very small. The old people had been the firm's tenants so long that the firm could not turn them out, and so, perhaps, they had lost trade somewhat.

Mr. SAUNDERS described is [sic] as a pathetic case.

The Bench decided to refer this case also to the Compensation Authority.

THE BELL INN, ASH.

P.s. WHEELER said the owners of this house were Messrs. Baxter, Sherborne. The house was in a fair condition, and in a fairly good position for trade. The population of Ash was 418 for two houses, there being one other house, fully licensed. The Bell Inn had not so good accommodation as the other house, which was 888[?] yards away.

Alfred Ernest FRAMPTON, the licensee, said he had been at the inn 14½ years. He sold about a hogshead of cider a week. People coming to the church and to meetings at the schools near by always left their cars or traps in his yard.

Mr. SHARPE, of Messrs. Baxter, said the average supply of beer to this house for retail[?] during the past five years was 68 barrels, whch [?] was a very good trade for a village house.

Edward ROWSELL, farmer, a Rural District and Parish Councillor, said this house was in the most thickly populated part of the village. In his view, this house was necessary for the convenience of the public.

Vincent TUCKER, farmer, of Witcombe, Ernest V. BATSTONE, a Parish Councillor, also gave similar evidence.

Mr. SAUNDERS put in a petition in this case. He considered this case was rather different from the others in that the nearest house was no less than 968[?] yards away. He considered it a case in which, in the interests of the inhabitants of the parish, the house was required.

The Bench decided to renew the license.

THE DUKE OF EDINBURGH, EAST COKER.

In regard to this house, P.s. MANNINGS said it was a mile from the Quick Silver Mail, and about a mile from the Foresters Arms, East Coker, and a mile from West Coker. The population of East Coker was 752, and there was one fully licensed and two beer houses in the parish, making an average of one house for every 252 persons. The house had excellent accommodation, and plenty of room for motor cars. There was stabling at the back. The reason for the objection to this house was that there were no residents within a reasonable distance of the house.

Replying to Mr. SAUNDERS, the Sergeant said houses were being built round about in considerable numbers.

George WISCOMBE, the licensee, said he had been the landlord for nine years. People walking from the town frequently called for refreshments. He sold about a hogshead of cider a fortnight.

Mr. SHARPE, of Messrs. Baxter, said on an average during the past five years. 111[?] gallons of beer had been sold there annually. The firm had paid out £200 on repairs of the house during the last years or two.

Mr. SAUNDERS said that the extent of the trade showed that there was a demand for the house. He did not think he had ever been called upon to defend a case where the house was a mile from any other house. It seemed to him that the objectors were very confident. The house and the neighbourhood were “silent witnesses” to the necessity of the license being renewed.

The Bench retired to consider the case, and on their return the Chairman announced that the license would be referred.

THE ODCOMBE INN, ODCOMBE.

In respect to this license, P.s. WHEELER said the house was owned by Messrs. Lang's of Hambridge, and the licensee was Mr S. J. GODFREY. The house was in good structural condition, but it was not in a good position for trade. There were two other houses in the parish, the population of which was 523[?], an average of 174 for each house. This house had better accommodation than the other two.

Replying to Mr. J. A. MAYO, solicitor, of Yeovil, who appeared on behalf of the owners, and licensee of this house, the Sergeant stated that three houses were not necessary in Odcombe. He thought the Odcombe Inn would have been the better house to keep. The licensee, he added, allowed the back entrance of the house to be used by allotment holders, and the police had no supervision over that.

Mr. MAYO said that was the first he had heard of that.

Mr. MAYO suggested that the Bench should differentiate between this house, a fully licensed house, and the Masons Arms, a small beer house, which stood a few yards further on. The business of this house, which was at Lower Odcombe, was quite good. He considered the house necessary.

The licensee and Joseph LANG, a partne [sic] in the firm of Messrs Langs, gave evidence as to the trade of the house, and the Bench decided to renew the license. Mr. MAYO remarked that the question of the passage way for allotment holders would be gone into and stopped.

POLICE-SERGEANT COMPLIMENTED.

At the conclusion of the cases, the Chairman of the Bench said the Bench wished him to say how very much they appreciated the fair way in which Police Sergeant WHEELER had given his evidence. It had been a rather unpleasant duty for him but he had done it tactfully and well.

Supt. W. H. WILLIAMS thanked the Bench, and said he was sure that Sergt. WHEELER would appreciate it.

Mr. SAUNDERS also expressed his appreciated of the way in which the Police-Sergeant had performed what could not have been a very pleasant duty.


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<NOTES: The licensee of the New Inn, Coate, Martock was Stephen MOUNTER son of George MOUNTER and Ann or Hannah MALE, married Jane CHURCHILL>