Late Regency Happening: The Controversial Beerhouse Act of 1830

The Beerhouse Act 1830 (11 Geo 4. and 1 Will 4. c. 64) was an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, which liberalized the regulations governing the brewing and sale of beer. It was modified by subsequent legislation and finally repealed in 1993. It was one of the Licensing Acts 1828 to 1886.

The precursor to the Beerhouse Act was the Alehouse Act 1828 (9 Geo.4 c.61), which established a General Annual Licensing Meeting to be held in every city, town, division, county and riding, for the purposes of granting licences to inns, alehouses and victualling houses to sell exciseable liquors to be drunk on the premises.

Enacted two years later, the Beerhouse Act enabled anyone to brew and sell beer on payment of a licence costing two guineas, or £2.10 in modern currency. The intention was to increase competition between brewers, and it resulted in the opening of hundreds of new beerhouses, public houses and breweries throughout the country, particularly in the rapidly expanding industrial centres of the north of England. According to the Act itself, the Parliament considered it was “expedient for the better supplying the public with Beer in England, to give greater facilities for the sale thereof, than was then afforded by licences to keepers of Inns, Alehouses, and Victualling Houses.”

The Act’s supporters hoped that by increasing competition in the brewing and sale of beer, and thus lowering its price, the population might be weaned off more alcoholic drinks such as gin. But it proved to be controversial, removing as it did the monopoly of local magistrates to lucratively regulate local trade in alcohol, and not applying retrospectively to those who already ran public houses. It was also denounced as promoting drunkenness.

By 1841 licences under the new law had been issued to 45,500 commercial brewers. One factor in the Act was the dismantling provisions for detailed recording of licences, which were restored by subsequent regulatory legislation: the Wine and Beerhouse Act 1869 and the Wine and Beerhouse Act Amendment Act 1870. The Bill itself was often amended, notably in 1834 and 1840.

The final remaining provisions of the Act were repealed by Parliament on 11 November 1993, by the Statute Law (Repeals) Act 1993 (1993 c. 50), s. 1(1), Sch. 1 Pt. XIII GroupI. The passage of the Act during the reign of King William IV led to many taverns and public houses being named in his honour; he remains “the most popular monarch among pub names.”

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About reginajeffers

Regina Jeffers is the award-winning author of Austenesque, Regency and contemporary novels.
This entry was posted in British history, food and drink, Georgian Era, real life tales, Regency era and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Late Regency Happening: The Controversial Beerhouse Act of 1830

  1. Pingback: History A'la Carte 11-14-13 - Random Bits of Fascination

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