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15 October 2014
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AMERICANS - no women in pubs until Americans

by cornwallcsv

Contributed by 
People in story: 
Dougie Alford
Location of story: 
St. Just, Cornwall
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
14 October 2005

This story has been added by CSV volunteer Linda Clark on behalf of Dougie Alford. His story was given to Trebah WW2 Video Archive, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund in 2004. The Trebah Garden Trust understand the site's terms and conditions.

328 CWS080604 19:00:00 - 19:01:03

It seemed that every night an army truck full of some fifteen or twenty Americans would stop at the Queens Arms, the village pub. As children we would sit in the lorry and under the front seat there was chewing gum, sweets, cigarettes and sometimes whisky. We were told never to touch the whisky or the cigarettes but occasionally when we did start to smoke, we would have a packet of Camel or Lucky Strike and plenty of gum.
Women didn't go in the pubs in those days but when the Americans came some of the older girls started going into the pub. That was the start of women going to the pub.
I also recall that as we came home from chapel on Sunday evenings we stopped and listened to the local miners singing in the pub.

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Message 1 - Re: AMERICANS - no women in pubs

Posted on: 14 October 2005 by Peter - WW2 Site Helper

Dear Linda

I was very surprised to read that Mr Alford thinks that "Women didn't go in the pubs in those days but when the Americans came some of the older girls started going into the pub. That was the start of women going to the pub".

Women have always been allowed in public houses and all-male pubs were very rare. 'The Whip' being the only all-male pub in Leeds, for example. All pubs then had a 'tap-room' and a 'snug', larger pubs might also have a 'smoking room'. Food was not served in pubs, other than packets of crisps with a twist of blue grease paper containing salt.

The tap-room, also jokingly known as 'the spit and sawdust' was the bar area, usually with a dartboard and domino tables. It was generally mainly frequented by men who drank standing at the bar, but even pub tap-rooms had a fair share of women. What was unusual was to see a woman on her own in a tap-room.

The 'snug' was a large separate room usually with an open fire; it was the room where couples went. The man invariably with a pint, his companion with a port-and-lemon or a milk stout. Larger snugs usually contained an upright piano, and at weekends there would be a sing-song, with people getting up to 'give a turn' at the microphone. Children were never seen in pubs, nor were they allowed.

The beginning of the end of the traditional pub came on 9 Oct 1967 when the Road Safety Act, introducing the breathalyser and the 80mgs legal limit, came into force, although changes weren't noticeable at first. But prior to that pubs were almost unchanged since the late 19th century. I very much doubt if the Americans had any influence on pub traditions during the war.

What was totally unknown was the modern craze of 'binge drinking' and it was unheard of for a woman to be served beer in a pint glass, women always beer from half-pint stemmed glasses. If you ordered half a pint, you were invariably asked if it was for a lady. If it wasn't, it was served in a straight glass.


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