V is for Victuallers

Whilst local controls had existed in some areas, the first national attempts to regulate alehouses was the Alehouse Act 1552 (5&6 Edw VI) as an attempt to minimise drunkenness. The forbade the selling of ale or beer without a licence from the Justices of the Peace. The licensee had to enter a bond to ensure good behaviour. Interestingly in some areas licenses were only awarded to those who attended church and received sacrament regularly.

The Licensing Act 1753 (26 Geo II c31) stated that licensees had to produce certificates of good character. It also directed the registration of licensees by the Clerk of the Peace at Quarter Sessions. Whilst the requirement for a license was maintained in the Licensing Act 1828 (9 Geo Vc16) the requirement for licensees to be registered was not. Controls were further loosened by the Beer Act 1830 (IWmIV c64) which permitted retail of beer, ale and cider with a license from the Excise agencies rather than local magistrates. Whether these were easier to obtain of not I don't know.

The Wine and Beerhouse Act 1830 (32&33 Vict c27) reintroduced the requirement for a license from the local JPs and also introduced control for the sale of alcohol for consumption off the premises. Registration of licensees was reintroduced by the Intoxicating Liquor (Licensing) Act 1872. The Licensing Acts of 1902 and 1904 required new licensees to submit plans of their premises on application.

A major change in English licensing laws occurred with the passing of the Licensing Act 2003. This led to the separation of premises to be licensed and persons licensed to serve alcohol; both were required. It also removed the 10.30 pm closing time, permitting 24 hour opening (subject to licence) if desired. It also amended licences for music and other entertainment.

Interestingly the 2003 Act also permitted children under 18 to serve alcohol in bars, even though they cannot drink it.