Beer and the First World War talk by Jim Grundy

n World War One, this country was fighting Germany, Austria -- and drink.

This was the opinion voiced by David Lloyd George while he was Chancellor of the Exchequer.

He thought the greatest of the three enemies was drink because it affected workmen and damaged production, said Hucknall military historian Jim Grundy in a talk at Hucknall Library.

In his address, entitled ‘Beer And The First World War’, Jim said Leif Jones, who was Hucknall’s MP at the time, believed that drink was evil and wanted to see it banned.

Jones, a staunch Salvationist, considered that barley should be used as food for pigs instead of for making beer.

One of the organisers of a prohibitionist meeting on Bulwell Market Place said just the sight of a pub sign made him ‘go queasy’.

In an article headed ‘Be Sober’ on 4th August 1914 - the day Britain declared war on Germany - Dispatch founder and editor Henry Morley wrote: “It is painful to hear the coarse voices of men and women in the pubs when they ought to consider their future.”

Jim said one Hucknall soldier, John Cutts, was fined 15 shillings for getting ‘plastered’ in the town’s Portland Arms pub. This faded into insignificance when John was killed in the war less than a year later.

In September 1916 a bizarre law was brought in which forbade anyone buying a round, even a man treating his wife to a drink.

But Jim said the attitude eventually changed, with the view gaining ground that people had a right to enjoy a drink and not have to be teetotal.

This was the first in a series of talk by Jim at the library to mark the centenary of the start of World War One.

The second will be ‘Food And The First World War - When White Bread And Muffins Were Illegal’ on Friday 11th April at 3pm.