The 'improved' public house, 1870-1950: The key to civilized drinking or the primrose path to drunkenness?

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The Victorian temperance movement aimed to eliminate, not reform, public houses, but from 1870 interest began to be taken in promoting an 'improved' public house which could promote counter-attractions to drink. Disinterested management, based upon public ownership or a trust company, was advocated as the best means of achieving this. There was, however, an ambiguity about the nature of the 'improved' public house. Was the goal an austere establishment where the drinking could be controlled in the public interest, or was it a comfortable leisure centre which would promote civilized drinking? This ambiguity lay unresolved during the period of the Carlisle experiment in state control in the period after 1915. Increasingly during the inter-war years the policies of the state-run Carlisle scheme and the more go-ahead brewers converged. The issue was originally conceptualized as a moral one, then as one of national efficiency and finally as a commercial one.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)173-181
Number of pages9
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1998


  • alcohol
  • alcohol abstinence
  • alcohol consumption
  • alcoholism
  • drinking behaviour
  • licencing
  • review
  • United Kingdom
  • Alcohol Drinking
  • Great Britain
  • Health Policy
  • History, 19th Century
  • History, 20th Century
  • Humans
  • Temperance

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