WW1 woman enjoyed more time in the pub1st October, 2013 by Andy Young
Britain’s women dealt with the anguish of their men fighting on the World War One frontline by heading down to the pub, according to old newspapers that are now available to search online.
The increase in women going to the pub caused moral outrage with calls for the government to keep them at home and some newspapers comparing them to “prostitutes”.
Through old newspapers available to search on family history website Genes Reunited, the true extent of the indignation at the sight of women filling the alehouses across the country has been discovered.
According to the Liverpool Echo the matter was discussed at the Bootle Licensing Magistrates in 1916, with the newspaper reporting that a Captain Oversby said: “In the opinion of the committee, the great increase in the number of women visiting public-houses during the past year has demanded drastic treatment.”
A number of different measures were discussed by the Licensing Magistrates to stop women visiting the public houses, including a refurbishment of all public houses. “All licensed houses to be provided with clear plate-glass windows; partitions, snugs and other obstacles likely to facilitate secret drinking, be done away with.”
In 1915, the Manchester Evening News reported that a member of the county magistrates, Mr Theophilus Simpson, had been shocked to count “26 women enter a licensed house in ten minutes, with 16 coming out who he had not seen enter.” He likened this type of behaviour to that of a prostitute “Some people said women have a right to spend their money as they liked; they might as well say that they had a right to sell themselves if they like.”
Having control of the finances seems to have enabled the women to socialise more.
In 1914 the Aberdeen Journal reported: “Having more money in their hands than usual, there were only too many ready to help them to spend it in the wrong way.”
Rhoda Breakell, head of Genes Reunited, said: “Despite the negative press, women continued to enjoy themselves in the pubs.
“Looking through the records on Genes Reunited can provide a great insight into social history, shedding light on how much things have changed for all of us in a comparatively short space of time.”