Paul Gibson’s Hull and East Yorkshire History

An Illustrated History of the Off Licence in Hull

Introduction — 'Bottle & Jug'

Historically, the people of Britain often brewed their own ale at home, and this was usually a duty carried out by the head female member of the family, the ‘Brewster’. However, some chose to collect their ales and beers from other houses and premises, with families often selling their own ale to less well-equipped neighbours. Often this was simply a way of earning an extra income, and all of this went on with little or no legal restrictions. The production of ale was also frequently carried out in some communal way, for example by the church, or a larger household, and often at times of celebration or feast. The ales were then distributed within the local community; this ancient practice pre-dated the Romans in Britain by some 3000 years. Permanent ‘ale-houses’ only began to appear in significant numbers during the 13th Century, and from their inception it was common to drink ale either on or off the premises.

Ale and wine were both ‘drawn from the wood’, and taken home in stoneware or leather containers. Once alehouses were more widespread the public were easily enticed from their homes, where they often had little choice but to drink ale, in preference to poor or no water supplies. In a time when water and milk were still unsafe, and tea and coffee had yet to be discovered, ale was virtually the only cheap and safe option for the general public [fantastic]. This was not the normal strong beer, but weaker ‘table’ or ‘small beer’ as it was later known; however, the weaker beer, often given to children, would still have been stronger than the average modern pint. Drinking in the comfort of an alehouse afforded simple pleasures many people lacked at home, not least company and warmth. For the record, ‘ale’ was our native British brew made without hops, and when ale was brewed with hops, from say the 14th Century onwards, this was ‘beer’, which was sold in ‘beer-houses’. By 1550 almost all brewing used hops, and the term ale-house was used to describe a multitude of premises. However, there had always been a requirement for ‘off-sales’ and it is likely that women, for whom the ale-house and tavern was generally out-of-bounds, formed the larger part of the trade.           

Licensing records began as early as 1495, and from that date it was required by law that alehouses etc. were licensed. The laws became many and varied over the centuries, and by the turn of the 19th Century had become so complex that they were almost indecipherable; it was generally accepted that the laws required some simple consolidation. This opinion was given increased momentum by the growing temperance movement who, amongst many other things, were disgusted by the long hours which ale-houses were allowed to remain open. As far as was practicable, this was put right in 1828 with the ‘Ale-house Act’. This consolidated all previous legislation under one act. Under this new act, the magistrates, who had previously had control over all drinking establishments, were only given control of full publican’s licenses i.e. the public houses, or ‘pubs’ as we know them today (their powers over the beer-houses were returned in 1869). These licenses carried the right to sell any type of intoxicating liquor for consumption on the premises, and almost certainly off the premises as well.

In 1830 another act, the so-called ‘Beer House Act’, permitted almost anyone to brew and sell beer and cider from almost anywhere. For two guineas a year, virtually anyone assessed to the poor rate, could obtain an Excise Licence to sell beer from their own dwelling. There was no distinction between an ‘on’, or an ‘off’, sale. To make this even more inviting, the same act removed all duty on beer. Whilst attempting to control the disturbing rise in the consumption of spirits, the act back-fired badly, and led to the creation of thousands of disorderly drinking establishments. These were often nicknamed ‘Swankey houses’ as they sold weaker, so-called ‘Swankey’ beer, or ‘Tom & Jerry’ shops after two characters from ‘Life in London’, a best-selling novel of the late 1820s (George Cruikshank’s ‘Corinthian Tom’ and ‘Jerry Hawthorn’.

 In Liverpool alone, new licenses were issued at a rate of fifty a day in the first few months - overall, 46,000 new beer-houses were added to the original number of 51,000 licensed premises in England within the first eight years. Hull also noticed a rise, and following the passing of the act, the number of drinking establishments rose from at least 274 in 1823 to at least 353 in 1834. It is almost impossible to establish how many of the new establishments were ‘off’ licenses, as these figures are taken from trade directories, which do not represent the actual figures, only those registered in the directories of that year. To compound the problem early trade directories did not distinguish between ‘on’ and ‘off’ licenses.

In order to combat this new problem of Swankey Houses etc., yet more legislation was quickly compiled and in 1834 another ‘Beer-House Act’ was passed. This made a further distinction between ‘on’ and ‘off’ licenses. The price of an ‘on’ licence was three guineas a year, and an ‘off’ licence, only one guinea. An applicant for an ‘on’ licence was required, amongst other things, to produce a certificate of good character to the Excise Officer, signed by at least six ratepayers. To summarise, three main types of licence were available after 1834: -

a full publican’s licence,

an ‘on’ beer-house licence

and an ‘off’ beer-house licence

A third ‘Beer House Act’ was passed in 1840, which required that anyone applying for a beer-house licence must be the actual resident and holder of the said property. This sought to further reduce the number of low quality and disorderly houses. In 1860 the chancellor, Mr Gladstone, passed the ‘Refreshment House Act’, which was in part an attempt to increase trade with France. This sought to encourage the sale of light foreign wines and, provided there was no objection; licenses were issued to almost any refreshment house for consumption ‘on’ the premises and to any shop for consumption ‘off’ the premises.

In 1863 a little referred to ‘Revenue Act’ had a further influence on the development of the ‘off-licence’. From the date of the act, anyone who held a beer dealer’s licence (someone who stored, matured and despatched beer on behalf of a brewer) could apply, with no fee attached, for a further licence to sell beer off the premises. The only charge was an annual duty on sales. The continued reduction of licensing hours, i.e. the length of time a pub could remain open during the day, can also be seen as a factor that influenced ‘off’ sales.

Having been used to long hours in the pub, many drinkers may have felt the need to take home a jug or two.

It was from circa 1830 (and especially 1834) then, that ‘off-licenses’ and later their close relation the ‘Wine & Spirit Stores’ became known, albeit slowly at first, on the streets of England and indeed Hull. This short study is concerned mostly with the traditional ‘beer-off’ in Hull, a beer retailer whose main occupation was to sell ales and beers for ‘consumption off the premises’. It is also concerned with the associated ‘wines and spirits stores’, who provided a similar function, and often also sold ales and beers.

Setting the scene

At the time of the 1830s beer-house acts, most victuallers were still brewing their own beer for on and off sales, but in the second half of the 19th Century, the number of brewing victuallers declined drastically; their numbers fell by more than three-quarters between 1840 and 1890. This was mostly due to the rise of the ‘tied trade’, whereby a victualler or retailer would purchase his ales and beers from a ‘common brewer’, rather than brew his own at home. The main reason for this was that it had become less economically viable to brew at home. This also meant that pubs and beer-houses were starting to sell a range of beers from one supplier, and no doubt from around this time ‘window dressing’, and other promotional devices began to be used. It has been estimated that off-sales accounted for around a third of the takings of an average c.1840s ‘pub’ (Girouard p29).

In 1872 Henry Barrett invented the internal screw stopper, and bottled beer became widespread. Prior to this, maintaining an adequate seal on bottles had been a problem, even though the benefit of ale in sealed containers had been known since c.1600, as additional fermentation takes place if a bottle is adequately sealed. Initially there was little to encourage the bottling of beer, as glass was taxed heavily and many people still brewed at home. The manufacture and filling of bottles become even more mechanised later in the 19th Century, and thus beer became easier to take away. Retailers, who had often decanted their beers on site, now had the choice of buying in bottled beer direct, but this inevitably caught them in a tied-house situation.

Many new retailers underestimated the demands that the off-licence trade would face, and from the outset off-licenses were mostly unsuccessful enterprises; very few are listed before c.1860. However, many did survive and made a good living from the trade, especially in areas with fewer pubs per square mile, where the off-licence soon became a feature of the Victorian street scene. There is little doubt that some served drinks on the premises illegally, and records show that they were dealt with fairly gently when prosecuted. In 1914, Lena Andrews of No.160 Waterloo Street in Hull, was convicted of selling one bottle of stout to Mabel Chambers outside of permitted hours. She was fined £1 with £1-6s costs.

Very quickly, the publicans and brewers realised the threat that off-licenses (and beer-houses in general) posed to their own licensed houses, and fought them in any number of ways. Eventually they decided that to buy them out was the most efficient tactic and the practice of large breweries taking over small off-licenses was widespread by the late 19th Century. In response to this, off-licenses established a ‘protective association’, which participated in joint actions with other branches of the trade. Thus the independent off-licence remained a serious competitor, and some pubs began to lay greater emphasis on their off-trade, with special ‘bottle & jug’ areas within the pubs. Many of the children seen entering and leaving beer-houses, to the disgust of the temperance reformers, were most likely taking beer home for the family.

After the 1869 act, which sought to regain control of the explosion in licenses brought about by earlier failed measures, any development of new housing no longer automatically included new beer-houses in their plans. Instead, what often occurred, was the introduction of an off-licence in the area. An anomaly in the 1869 act meant that magistrates no longer had absolute discretion over off-licenses, as they did on-licenses. This brought about a huge surge in the number of off-licenses post 1869. During the last third of the 19th Century, the off-licence became ‘an essential feature of the urban scene’ (Jennings p.225). Greater control was returned, and the 1869 anomaly reversed, by new legislation in 1882 when magistrates were given discretionary powers to refuse off-licenses. Not surprisingly, the magistracy was often made up of large contingents of the temperance movement, who were intent on eradicating the trade completely. The number of off-licenses dropped dramatically, fuelled by the concerns of the temperance movement, who - amongst many things, believed that the off-licenses offered ‘tempting facilities’ to women.

The reduction in the number of premises raised the inherent value of those surviving off-licenses, and the breweries made even more attempts to buy out the survivors. However it was still common, even into the 20th Century, to take beer away from pubs in jugs and bottles etc. Hence the term ‘Bottle & Jug’ department became common in many pubs, and can be seen on most building plans of the period. Some ‘Bottle & Jug’ or ‘Outdoor Department’ etched windows can be seen on older photographs of licensed houses. Off sales accounted for many prosecutions of licensees, as they were more inclined to turn a blind eye to off sales. Strictly speaking, off sales should only have been carried out during normal opening hours, but the public found many ingenious ways of evading the legislation. This included using flatter containers, which could easily be hidden, and licensees often compromised themselves by using hatches or ‘holes in the wall’, to serve out of the permitted hours. Designers and architects often located seating in ‘outdoor departments’, thus encouraging customers to remain on the premises and unwittingly encouraging the misuse of the outdoor department. This they did, and often, the small rooms understandably became another place to drink. Frequently it was children who were sent for the off-sales, and it was common for them to unscrew a cap for a swig or two of Dad’s ale on the way home. This was such a problem that an act entitled ‘The Child Messenger Act’ was passed in 1901. This stipulated that any beers sold to children under the age of fourteen years, should be in corked bottles or in sealed containers with a label that would be damaged when the container was opened, thus revealing any tampering that had taken place.

The end of the boom

A licensing act was passed in 1904 that was to drastically affect the numbers of on and off licenses. The so-called ‘Balfour Act’ aimed to protect existing on-licenses from closure without compensation by ordering that compensation should be paid to the owners of premises whose licenses were refused renewal. The government was quite safe in this procedure, as the money paid in compensation was to come from a fund provided by the trade itself. The act was given an initial momentum by an earlier movement known as the ‘Birmingham Surrender Scheme’. This was instigated following remarks by Bishop Gore, who suggested that pubs were inadequately designed, and should be more in line with German ‘beer gardens’, which had facilities for families. Essentially this set in place the removal of many inner-city licenses to the expanding suburbs, as renewals of licenses within the cities were systematically refused, or require the  closure of smaller premises as a condition of the granting of a new license.

Brewers, now safe in the knowledge that compensation would be paid, put up little defence when closures were ordered within the inner cities. Generally, there was an accepted scale for closures; for the renewal of an existing publican’s licence to a new site where there were no licensed premises before, three on-licenses had to be given up. For an entirely new beer-off licence, two on-licenses had to be given up. For a new beer, wine and spirit licence, two and a half on-licenses had to be given up [how did they calculate half a licence?]. For a new beer, wine and spirit off-licence, again - two and a half on-licenses had to be given up. For alterations involving considerable extension to premises, as many as two on-licenses were surrendered, but generally it was one on-licence, or two off-licenses, for a considerable extension of existing licensed premises. Clearly, the number of licenses was to be effected by the refurbishment or extension of existing premises, and the construction of any new buildings. Between 1904 and 1908 the number of licensed premises in England was falling at a rate of 1,200 per year.           

The decline of the off-licence continued, settling to a fairly constant figure of around 300 in Hull in any one year, for the period leading up to the Second World War. Most of the independent off-licence premises that are listed in the licensing records for Hull during that period, were closed between 1950 and the early 1960s. There were a number of factors that brought about this change. Since the 1920s, most newly built pubs included off-licence facilities, and by the 1950s the shop-front style off-sales area had become commonplace; plans of new pubs in Hull from the 1960s show an increased area given over to off-sales.

During the 1960s the ‘supermarket’ arrived, and by the start of the 1970s stores like Dee Discounts, Goodfellows, Jacksons and Grandways were household names. Their ability to provide a ‘one stop shop’ sounded the death knell, not just for many off-licenses and wine & spirit outlets, but for the small shop of every description. It is the second of these factors that has continued to deplete the number of off-licenses; in 2002 there were only 38 independent off-licenses listed in the Hull telephone directory, just 10% of the figure a hundred years earlier.

Some chains survived however, and from c.1960, Townend’s had a number of outlets in Hull, dominating the scene during the 1970s. Hull Brewery’s ‘Anchor Wines’ shops began to appear from 1970, and smaller wines & spirits chains like Lamberts, Parkers & Gaines, and Southams slowly faded away. In 2009 there are few chains left in Hull, but stores like Booze Brothers and Booze Busters still offer beers, wines and spirits, to those who feel the need to nip out locally, for a bottle every now and then.

Some off-licence statistics for Hull

2006 34 off-licenses and 6 wine & spirit merchants
2002 38 off-licenses and 6 wine & spirit merchants
1990 33 off-licenses and 18 wine & spirit merchants
1980 36 off-licenses and 31 wine & spirit merchants
1975 53 off licenses and 30 wine & spirit merchants
1967 106 off-licenses and 18 wine & spirit merchants
1960 114 off-licenses and 22 wine & spirit merchants
1954 87 off-licenses in their own separate section, and 21 wine & spirit merchants
1939 139 beer retailers (off) and 79 grocers, who were also ‘dealers in bottled beers’
 N.B. the term ‘off-license’ was used but directed the reader to ‘the aforementioned, beer retailer section’
1929 129 beer retailers (off)
1915 97 beer retailers (off)
1905 319 beer retailers (off)
1892 Only ‘beer retailers’ listed – no differentiation between on or off licenses
1890 The Hull Brewery Co. had at least 13 off-licenses in a breakdown of the company in that year.

Licensing records for Hull, which show the numbers of off-licenses, have only survived from 1883 onwards. However, using a process of elimination - partly using Graham Wilkinson’s ‘Landlord’ database, a good estimation of the number of off-licenses before licensing records were introduced can be made. When a beer retailer, who was listed in a trade directory, cannot be attributed too a ‘pub’ site, I have assumed he was the retailer of an off-license. Whilst somewhat tenuous, these - mostly trade directory references - are possibly the only representative figure available, without using Census returns, and Brewster Sessions records, which may not have listed off licenses anyway. The following figures are mostly compiled from Graham’s ‘Landlord’ research, and show premises that have not been definitely identified as known pub sites.

1882 32 Beer retailers
1881 Census: -
 8 beer retailers (no other occupation)
 10 ale & porter merchants (no other occupation)
 5 wine & spirit stores
 17 grocers who also held off licenses
1879 17 beer retailers
1874 18 beer retailers and 7 grocers who also held off licenses
1872 15 beer retailers with other occupations, mostly grocers, and 64 beer retailers
1863/4 31 beer retailers
1855 11 beer retailers with other occupations, and 27 beer retailers
1848 17 beer retailers with other occupations, 12 beer sellers and 29 beer retailers
1842 7 ale & ported dealers with other occupations and 20 ale & porter retailers
1840 8 beer shops/sellers, 8 beer retailers and 59 beer houses
1839 8 beer retailers with other occupations, 48 beer house keepers and 17 beer house keepers with other occupations
1838 8 beer retailers with other occupations, 23 beer houses with other occupations and 55 beer houses
1835 29 beer retailers, 3 beer shops and 7 beer retailers with other occupations
1834 53 beer retailers and 1 beer retailer with another occupation
1830 55 beer houses

Licensing records statistics

The beer-house registers record the address of the off-licence, the duration of the licence, the owner of the property, the date it was first licensed, and any known prosecutions etc. The few records available for Hull give a snapshot view of the total number of off-license premises that each brewery or individual owned in Hull, from c.1918 to c.1962. These shops were generally kept throughout the history of the company: -

T Linsley & Co had 65 (only 11 by 1954), Worthington & Co had 54, Hull Brewery Co had 52, 43 remained independent or privately owned (possibly grocers), John Smith's had 14, Bass had 12, Darley & Co had 12, Southam's had 9, Moors’ & Robson’s had 9, Hewitt Bros had 5, J A Wild had 3, Wrigglesworth & Co had 3, Faloon & Co had 2, William Wheatley had 2, Ruddock’s had 2, Henry Wilson & Co had 1, Whitbread & Co had 1 and Inde-Coope & Allsop had 1.

It is interesting to note that 260 of the 300 or so premises listed in the register had been licensed continually since before 1880, and many were noted as having been first licensed ‘pre-1869’. The vast majority of those premises listed were closed in the period 1950 to 1960. Few original premises exist in Hull, but some off-licenses and/or wine & spirit merchants are of long standing, and some were still trading until very recently. What follows is a selection of premises in Hull, past and present (mostly past), with a few details and a photograph of each.

221 Beverley Road (Cave Street corner)

The 1881 Census records that living at ‘No.1 Stepney Terrace’, Beverley Road was Robert Work, an unmarried general & family grocer aged 31 years. Also living with him were Eliza Copland, the widowed sister of Robert Work aged 39 years, nephew William Copland 11 years old - a scholar, niece Margaret Copland aged 5 years old, also a scholar and nephew Thomas Copland aged 2 years. Work Brothers 'Grocers & Wine & Spirit Merchants' were the owners of this shop from at least 1881 until 1906, when another local wines & spirits merchant John Townend took over, establishing this as the first shop of his company, which was formed that year. Townend's remained here until the 1980s and more recently it was a branch of 'Booze Brothers' in 2003 and closed in 2005. The photograph shows the shop in the 1920s.

121 Hawthorne Avenue (corner of White Street)

Arthur Newcombe Scaman latterly a beer retailer of Colonial Street, moved into the newly built 121 Hawthorne Avenue c.1902. He ran this small off licence until around 1929 and was followed by a number of owners or tenants until 1959 when the shop was taken over by the Hull Brewery Co. Amazingly, over 100 years later, the shop is still an off-licence, part of the Cellar 5 / Booze Buster chain, seen here in 2009.

331 Holderness Road

Originally numbered no.2 Salem Terrace, this property was built c.1867 according to the licensing records and had been open for trade for almost 140 years until its recent closure. James Reid grocer & beer retailer, was the first occupant, and the 1881 Census listed only his wife and family at the premises: - 'Jane Reid a widowed grocer aged 72 years. Daughter Sarah J. unmarried aged 34 years, grand daughter Annie unmarried aged 21 years, servant David Reid unmarried aged 31 years'. From c.1888 the daughter Sarah J was listed as the owner and Worthington & Co were listed as the lessee c.1918, when their tenant was Frederick Arthur Charles; a photograph made in 1940 shows the shop still with its Worthington’s hoarding. J A Wild of no.65 Durham Street was the outright owner from 1 January 1955 and was granted a full beer, wine & spirits off licence from 2 February 1961. This brilliant display of Worthington’s material, was created by Frederick Arthur Charles c.1915 (see photo), when the shop was one of over fifty off-licences owned by the company in Hull at that time. Originally an addition to a grocer’s, the shop continued to trade as an off licence until c.2007 known as ‘The Drinks Cabin’, although it was listed as a ‘wines & spirits store’ under the Thresher’s banner, in the telephone directory.

223 Waterloo Street

Shown here c.1914 is a Hull Brewery off-licence that had been licensed since at least 1877. It is probably Mrs Hardman, wife of Joseph Hardman grocer and beer retailer, who stands in the doorway. The date of the photographic postcard image may suggest that Joseph was away at war, or perhaps he was simply behind the camera, making the photograph. A selection of Hull brewery mirrors, and other ephemeral advertising material fills the window, in a display that would be worth hundreds of pounds in today’s collectors market. The shop ceased to be an off licence c.1957 and was demolished in the early 1970s.


23 Mytongate, Christie & Co.

The Christie family ran this Wine & Spirits Stores, which also served as a pub, and held a full ale-house licence. Situated between Finkle Street and Sewer Lane, on the south side of Mytongate, it opened c.1820 (although the sign claims it have been established in 1705) and was closed in 1929; latterly it had been known as the ‘Imperial Measure’ public house and is shown here in the 1920s as part of the Henry Wilson & Son empire.

Edward Street, c.1900

This extremely rare image shows one of Hull’s lost streets – Edward Street, which ran north from Medley Street, another lost street. Edward Street ran parallel with Waltham Street and would now be located under the British Home Stores building; both streets being lost in the development of King Edward Street and Jameson Street between 1900 and 1904. To the right of the photograph (made by the Hull Photographic Society), can be seen a shop with a painted wall sign noting ‘Brewers to the Prince of Wales’. This was the premises of Mrs Emma Greendale, shopkeeper and beer retailer; an off-licence that was situated at the corner of Medley Street (No.11) and Edward Street.

113 Regent Street

Enoch Glover held this grocer’s and beer retailer’s store in Regent Street at the time of this photograph of c.1915. It had been licensed as a beer retailer’s since at least 1876, and the licence was last recorded in 1958. It belonged to Moors’ & Robson’s brewery throughout.

14 Carr Lane, Regent Hotel

It is almost certainly William Gaukroger who is shown here at the door of the Regent Hotel. He was the licensee c.1930 and his name is over the door. The Regent was a public house, and wine & spirit merchant, and as such also dealt in off-sales. The many types of advertising shown illustrate clearly that it was a ‘Bass house’. It was first licensed in the 1860s and closed a hundred years later in 1968.

62 Prospect Street, J J Ripon & Co

John James Ripon was a wine merchant who formed his company in 1840, but his store does not seem to have been listed as an off-licence per-se. However, his store falls loosely within this study as an example of another style of property and/or supplier. No.63 had been a beer-retailer’s for some time before Rippons took over c.1880 and is shown here in an advertising postcard from c.1910. Rippon moved to no.50 Prospect Street following the construction of Ferensway in 1930-31, which required the demolition of the property. The company was taken over by J Townend & Son in in the 1930s and this shop was damaged during air raids in the Second World War, which also destroyed their neighbours the Central Picture Theatre and the Hole in the Wall public house. 

80 Trinity Street

This busy picture postcard shows a view of Derringham Street, looking north towards Spring Bank. In the foreground is the point where Trinity Street crossed Derringham Street east to west. On the left at no.80 Trinity Street was the shop of James Vayro grocer, wine & spirit merchant and beer retailer – an excellent example of an off-licence c.1905. The Vayros had been at No.80 since only the late 1890s and had moved on by c.1910, however no.80 had been a beer retailer for many years prior to their arrival. This area was gradually flooded with pubs and off-licenses and Vayros appear to have found the competition too much; they were listed simply as grocers at a shop on Beverley Road by 1915.

107-109 Anlaby Road; Southam’s Victoria Vaults

It is likely to be James Southam standing outside his impressive premises in Anlaby Road at the time of this photograph of c.1905. Southam also had a store at no.311 Beverley Road and had previously been the licensee at a pub called ‘Chequers’ in Mytongate, moving to Anlaby Road in 1895. Employing a manager at first, Southam himself was listed as victualler from c.1910. The arch led to a bottling area at the rear, in the centre was the ‘pub’, and to the right was the off-sales department. Immediately to the left of Southam’s was the Palace Theatre, which provided much custom for the ‘Viccy Vaults’. Also noted on the photograph was ‘Hole’s Ales’ over the arch; James Southam was the district manager for brewers James Hole & Co. The Victoria Vaults continued trading until 1968.

17 Lansdowne Street
(Health Department photo no.1080)

This c.1930 photograph, made by the Hull City Council’s Health Department, shows property on the west side of Lansdowne Street. At No.17 was the grocery store and off licence of Frederick Dowell who was at this address from the 1920s until at least 1939. The licensing records show that no.17 had been licensed since 1870, and was a Linsley & Co premises throughout.


30 Adelaide Street
(Health Department photo no.1232)

This c.1930 photograph shows a shop on the north side of Adelaide Street, between Porter Street and Chatham Place. At no.30 was William Stonehouse’s ale, porter and grocery store; the advertisements in the window show that Linsley & Cos. excellent quality mild beer could be taken away in jugs at 5d per pint, or bought at 7d per bottle, with Crown Ale at 8d per bottle. Just past the off licence was the entrance to the eight small houses of Mary Ann’s Place. The shop had held an off-licence since at least 1878, and was licensed until at least 1962 although the rest of Adelaide Street had been demolished much earlier.

33 New George Street
(Health Department photo no.1620)

This photograph from the Health Department shows the south side of New George Street - at no.33 was James Dixon Mansell’s off-licence, followed by the passage entrance to Kings Buildings.This was one of very few John Smith’s off-licenses in Hull and they certainly made their presence known, by painting the whole building in their colours, as well as providing a hanging sign to be seen from oblique angles along the street. The shop had been licensed since at least 1873 and closed in 1934, probably due to the compulsory purchase and demolition of property in this area.

34 Porter Street
(Health Department photo no.428)

This photograph shows the west side of Porter Street - at no.34 was the ale, porter and grocery store of Henry Barrett, whose name was over the door. The entrance to Ebor Place can be seen next to his door, and once again, mild ale was advertised at 6d per pint, but this time it was Worthington’s. No.34 Porter Street was first licensed pre-1869 according to the licensing records, and closed in 1936, probably due to compulsory purchase.

51 Strickland Street
(Health Department Photo no.308)

No.51 Strickland Street had been licensed to sell beer off the premises since at least 1878. The windows still had their early Victorian shutters when this photograph was made c.1930 and Joseph Shawler was the licensee at that time. Although the Hull Corporation owned the property it was predominantly a Hull Brewery outlet, which also sold ‘Bass No.5 in bottle, Whitbread London Stout, Guinness Stout and others according to its many signs. Alongside the off-licence was the entrance to Edwin’s Terrace, one of four terraces demolished for the construction of a timber yard, saw mill and barking works in Strickland Street and Madeley Street in the1920s. However, no.51 remained, as an off-licence and grocer, until at least 1962. 

63 Porter Street
(Health Department Photo no.1057)

The east side of Porter Street, at its junction with Adelaide Street is shown here - most of which was demolished for the construction of the flats known as Melbourne House. At the corner is the impressive ale, porter and grocery shop of Mrs. Agnes Elizabeth Grasby, no.63 Porter Street. There had been an off-licence here since at least 1890 and the unmistakable advertising display notes that it was another Worthington’s outlet, with beer on draught or in bottle to take away. 


101 Spring Street
(Health Department Photo no.793)

No.101 Spring Street and the entrance to Spring Terrace are shown here, on the east side of the street. No.101 was the ale, porter and grocery store of Richard Healey-Wright, and note the many brewers mirrors in his window. The signage also notes that it was a ‘free store’, i.e., it was not tied to a particular brewery or supplier; this had always been the case, as it had been privately owned and licensed since at least 1880. It was last licensed in 1937, shortly before this property, located to the north of the former Providence Inn, was demolished for redevelopment. Sadly, the Providence Inn has also since been demolished for a more recent development called St Stephen's.


928 Hessle High Road

William Elkington stands at the door of his ale, porter and grocery store in this photograph of c.1935. His store was first licensed in 1931, probably when newly built. It is shown as a Hull Brewery store at the corner of St Nicholas Avenue, where it remains licensed to the present day. Latterly (c.1900) it was known as ‘Park Stores & Wines’, and Cooper’s Wines, but more recently it has become known as Cooper’s Wines Two, and The Wine Shop.         

557 Endike Lane, The Endyke Hotel

Endyke Lane was relatively rural and hardly built upon in 1930, but during the next decade was completely developed as the southern extension of the North Hull Estate. Many shops and a Cinema (the Rex, which opened in 1935) served the area, and the arrival of a pub was inevitable. The Endyke Hotel opened circa 1933 and was unusual for the time in that it was built with an integral off-licence. The shop front of the off-licence was centrally placed as an advertising device, and easily accessible for service. Sadly, recent extensions and redevelopment have required the loss of the stylish off-licence.

352 Anlaby Road

George Howard Kidson’s ‘Anlaby Road Beer Wine & Spirits Stores’ had been a feature of the Anlaby Road scene for many years, prior to this photograph of c.1920. Situated at the corner of Walton Street it was predominantly a John Smith’s outlet, but also served as a grocery, as many off-licenses did; more recently it was a Hull Brewery outlet (c.1968) and Lambert Parker & Gaines’ off licence. The building was demolished for road widening in 2003 sadly, due to the access requirements of Hull’s new sports stadium.

2 Osborne Street, The Norwood Arms

The Norwood Arms, situated at the corner of Osborne Street and Waterhouse Lane, had been a beer-house since the early 1860s. This photograph shows the Norwood in the 1920s with its excellent etched glass side entrance leading to the ‘Bottle & Jug Department’ (an enlarged image features in the introduction to this article). The Norwood was demolished following severe damage sustained during the Second World War.

8 & 9 Staniforth Place
(Health Department photo no.363)

This photograph shows the west side of Staniforth Place, and the entrance to Airedale Terrace. Grocer Frank McLarron ran no.8, to the left, and at the time of the photograph no.9 was the ale, porter and general store of Henry Cowley. However both shops had been off-licenses; no.8 ceasing to be licensed in 1937, and both having been first licensed before 1869. Formerly a Worthington & Co. establishment no.8 still had its signboard and painted advertisement over the shop front, although both had the lettering painted out. No.9 continued to be licensed until 1940 and was one of only 12 premises owned by Darley & Co in Hull.

35 Cumberland Street
(Health Department Photo no.834)

This photograph is looking west along Swann Street, from the corner of Cumberland Street. At the corner was a former off-licence, which was for sale according to the sign in the window. Formerly a simple grocer’s, it had been licensed to sell beer ‘off the premises’ since at least 1875. The ornate signboard over the door was exactly the same as that of no.8 Staniforth Place shown in the previous image, and shows that it was a Worthington’s outlet throughout its life as an off-licence, which ended c.1920.

78 Prince’s Avenue, Wines & Spirits shop

No.78 Prince’s Avenue, at the corner of Hinderwell Street, is shown in this photograph from c.1960. Originally a grocer’s shop the premises were taken over by Henry Wilson & Son, wine & spirits merchants’ c.1955, at which point it became one of their retail outlets - a type of ‘off-licence’. It has remained an off-licence ever since but the door to the left of the building has been lost, with just one door now facing Prince’s Avenue. It is now part of the ‘Rhythm & Booze’ chain, a regional company set up in 1993, mostly based in Yorkshire but with several outlets in the Hull area.

76 West Dock Avenue

A Worthington’s off-licence, no.76 West Dock Avenue was first licensed c.1883 and closed in 1962, shortly after this picture was taken. Notice how the building is again painted white from top to bottom, to stand out in the street.

179 Hessle Road

No.179 Hessle Road had been a grocer’s, and as was frequently the case, supplemented its trade by becoming an off-licence c.1890. Situated at the corner of Strickland Street and Hessle Road it is shown in this photograph around 1960. It was unusual in that it fronted on to a main road, whereas most off-licenses were situated in side streets where they had less competition from pubs. The signage shows it was another Worthington’s outlet and note the curving corner window on the first floor. It survived into the 1970s but was later demolished and the site remains empty.

234 Holderness Road

Lamberts, Parkers & Gaines was a common name on many a Hull wines & spirits off-licence from the 1950s and 1960s. The company had been formed from smaller companies, two of which were of long standing in Hull; Henry Parker & Sons and J B Lambert & Sons had both been trading since the 1890s. Latterly, from c.1968, the Hull Brewery took over and re-branded the Lambert Parker & Gaines stores in the Hull area.  No.234 Holderness Road, between Victor Street and Balfour Street, had been an off-licence since at least 1938. It had long been Scott’s Jewellers, and was first a wines & spirits off licence ran by the Appleton family who held it until the 1970s when this photograph was made. The ornate window details have since been lost, and the property is now a Dove House Hospice charity shop.

804 Beverley Road

A marvellous Hull Brewery off-licence is shown in this photograph from the 1970s, possibly just after being re-branded as ‘Anchor Wines’, as it had been a Southam’s wine & spirit outlet c.1960 but became a Hull Brewery off-licence in the late 1960s. The signage and window display are unmistakably 1970s and denote a change of style in a new era; note the ‘Party Kegs’ in the left hand window and the crates stacked inside. The shop is now a ‘Cellar 5’ off-licence.

35 Cottingham Road, The Gardeners Arms P.H.

The Gardener’s Arms has been a ‘pub’ since the 1850s. Originally just a watering hole for passing travellers and people visiting the gardens of owner William Pickering, the Gardeners developed into a thriving pub, which it remains today. This photograph shows the addition of an off-licence in the 1950s by then owners Gilmour & Co., although this had long been a Tetley’s outlet. The pub received its first full licence in 1953 and is shown here c.1960.

422 Hessle Road

Another Hull Brewery, latterly Lamberts Parkers & Gaines, store this colourful shop was just west of Ribble Street. It is still standing but is no longer used as an off-licence.

40-42 Southcoates Lane, The Highland Laddie P.H.

The original Highland Laddie pub, at No.197 High Street, closed on 7th December 1961 following a general decline in the area, and the new Highland Laddie opened at 6 p.m. the same day, thus maintaining the licence. The new building, similar to the Dart, had a very visible off-licence, which was to be a feature of most newly built pubs until the 1980s. Note the marvellous illuminated ‘H B’, and the anchor sign of the Hull Brewery Co. 

39-41 Paragon Street, The Paragon Hotel P.H.

The Paragon Hotel (now sadly re-named the Hull Cheese), was one of Hull’s oldest established pubs and was first opened in the late 1700s. The name of the pub was the inspiration for the naming of Paragon Street and Paragon Station, both developed long after the pub first opened originally facing Chariot Street. Latterly it included an integral off-licence, shown here in the 1970s as a Lamberts Parkers & Gaines wine & spirit store. The shop front was lost following refurbishment in the 1980s.                        

St James Place & 76 English Street

No.76 English Street had been a Worthington & Cos. off-licence since at least 1877. Situated at the entrance to St James Place it was well placed for trade from the surrounding area. The signage confirms that it served ales on draught as well as in bottle. Not surprisingly it had long been a grocers before adding the benefits of ale & porter sales to its services. It ceased to be licensed in 1962 and is shown in this photograph shortly after.

292 James Reckitt Avenue

Thomas Wilcock was the shopkeeper at no. 292 James Reckitt Avenue at the time of this 1950s photograph. The shop also served as an off-licence for the residents of the area prior to the Pelican pub being built across the road in the 1960s. Mr Wilcock had been at this address since at least 1939, prior to which it had been a simple grocer’s. Note the advertising, which even extended to the roof for some reason.

Queen’s Hotel, Queen’s Road

Another sad loss, the off-licence of the Queens pub in Queens Road actually fronted Prince’s Road. It is shown here in a late 1980s photograph when the Mansfield Brewery had taken over the pub. Internally the shop retained most of its details including a serving counter, and mirror backed mahogany shelving behind the counter. This had been in place since a 1905 conversion and rebuild at the rear of the premises. The shop was no longer required by the late 1990s and was made into kitchen facilities. I managed to salvage the ornate mirrored-back counter, which now has pride of place in our front room.

© Paul Gibson, March 2006,  edited for the web June 2009.

Also appeared in the East Yorkshire Historian Volume 7 (2006)


Martin Taylor the City Archivist and Hull History Services for kind permission to reproduce some of their collection. All of the images used from the Health Department Collection can be ordered from the Local Studies Library in Hull using the reference numbers quoted in the text. The remainder of the images are from the authors collection.

Location of licensing records: -

Hull City Archive: -

Beerhouse register 1918-1962 Volume 4 (ref. DPM 25-27)

Brewster Sessions rough minutes 1908-1909, 1912-1941 (ref. DPM 15/21)

Minute of the Compensation Authority 1904-1908, 1927-1947 (ref. DPM 25-28)

Minutes of the Licensing Committee 1883-1952 (ref. DPM 15/20)

East Riding Archive: -

Beerhouse registers 1889-1939 (ref. QAP)

Register of transfer of beer and wine off licenses 1909-1924, 1926-1947 (ref. QAP)

Some of which cover Hull.


A History of English Ale and Beer. H A Monkton, Bodley Head. London 1966.

Barley, Mash and Yeast. A History of the Hull Brewery Company 1782 – 1985. Robert Barnard, Hutton Press and Hull College of Further Education. Beverley 1990.

Beer – An Illustrated History. Brian Glover, Hermes House. London 1997.

Bottles & Bottle Collecting, Shire Album No.6. A A C Hedges, Shire Publications Ltd. Aylesbury 1975.

Forgotten Hull Index and CD-ROM collection. Compiled by Graham Wilkinson. Hull

Health Department Photographs Index (revised 2002). Graham Wilkinson. Hull 2002.

Holderness Road – Through the Heart of East Hull. Mary Fowler, Highgate Publications (Beverley) Ltd. Beverley 1990.

Landlord (work in progress). Graham Wilkinson. Hull 2006.

Last Complete Performance; In Memory of Hull’s Cinemas. Robert Curry, Hutton Press and the Hull College of Further Education. Beverley, 1992.

Lost Churches and Chapels of Hull. David Neave and others, Hutton Press Ltd. Cherry Burton 1991.

Lost Pubs of Hull. Paul Gibson and Graham Wilkinson, Kingston Press. Hull 1999.

‘Regarding The Childrens Act of 1908’. Report by G L Shakles, clerk to the Hull City Justices, to the Licensing Committee of Hull. February 1909, Hull City Archives (ref. DPM/21/7/6)

The English Alehouse: A Social History 1200 - 1830. Peter Clark, Longman Group. Harlow 1983.

The History of the English Public House. H A Monckton, Bodley Head. London 1969.

The Oxford Companion to Local and Family History. Ed. David Hey, Oxford University Press. Reprinted 2000.

The Public House in Bradford 1770 – 1970. Paul Jennings, Keele University Press. Keele 1995.

The Renaissance of the English Public House. Basil Oliver, Faber & Faber. London 1947.

The Story of the Pub. Brewers & Licensed Retailers Association. London 1996.

Time, Gentlemen, Please! Early Brewery Posters in the Public Record Office. Michael Jones, PRO Publications in association with Vaux Breweries Ltd. Kew 1997.

Trade Directories. Various.

Victorian Pubs. Mark Girouard, Yale University Press. London 1984.

Victuallers’ Licenses – Records for Family and Local Historians (2nd Ed.). Jeremy Gibson & Judith Hunter, Federation of Family History Societies. Bury 2000.

1881 British Census & National Index (CD-ROM). The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Birmingham 1999.

And they even have their own magazine ...

'Off Licence News is a weekly newspaper aimed at all key personnel working in the UK off-trade. The editorial coverage includes all the latest news of importance in the drinks industry, and covers the major stories and market developments in depth. We also keep readers up-to-date in other market sectors, such as snacks and confectionery and the broader retail market, including e-commerce. The mix also includes readers' letters, mystery shopper features, a retail town focus, legal advice, retail price monitoring, business analysis and TV ad, web-site and book reviews. We've even got a crossword’. (First published in 1862 as part of The Grocer by William Reed Publishing; in 1863 Wine Trade Review launched as a supplement; 1935 Wine & Spirit Trade Review launched as separate title; converted to Off Licence News in 1970).

Hull History Centre holds the archives for Hull City Council

The image above provides a link to enable you to search the Hull City Council Archives at Hull History Centre.

Archived by
the British Library