At the Pub 

Forgive and forget  “the English counterpart” and we will later assess what was happening in Wales.
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The Scottish Public House
A popular topic of debate is the difference between the Scottish public house and an English counterpart. We shall see that it is not merely an issue engaging the attention in modern times though we will start with an up-to-date view. We can consider the poetic as well as the practical dimensions. According to Henderson,60 Scottish pubs seemed “bare, joyless drinking dens compared to cheery, jovial English hostelries.” He then quotes MacDiarmid with the justification that it took a writer of his genius “to turn a squalid vice into a virtue.” MacDiarmid compared Scots and English drinkers and said that “We do not like the confiding, the intimate … the hail-fellow, well-met, but prefer the unapproachable, the hard-bitten, the recalcitrant, the sinister … the sinister to the smooth. We have no damned feeling at all …” and, by implication – do not need a jovial English hostelry”.
Moving on with slightly more practical application, Allen’s view in 1968 was: “Scottish pubs are really bars, having failed to develop as full-scale inns on the English pattern, due to the fact that the native hospitality of old was so bounteous that travellers never lodged for the night except in private houses.” While Marie Stuart may agree with the lack of development she would give radically different reasons based in the idea that the Scottish hostelry retained its provision for the horse to the detriment of the rider far longer than its English counterpart. The Scots preferred the title “stabler” to the English “Inn-keeper”. As late as the end of the eighteenth century a Samuel Wordsworth kept a house in Leith Street, Edinburgh, “but the fact that he also styled himself ‘stabler’ showed where his real interest lay …”61
The age of the horse lasted longer in Scotland due to the lack of road development and by 1750-1800 many from England were well used to travelling in coaches. There was little reason to invest in inns (which also served as public houses) due to the lack of travellers. Henry Graham commented on the period mentioned: “In consequence of the small number of passengers on the roads in those days of bad travelling, the inns in Scotland were miserable in the extreme. In country towns there were mean hovels, with dirty rooms, dirty food and dirty attendants.”62 Chambers contrasted “the state of the lower classes of public houses in Scotland and in England. The contrast is too remarkable to have escaped the notice of anyone who has visited the two countries. In one, we find a certain appearance of neatness and comfort; in the other, the most wretched pictures of disorder, filth, and poverty.63
In 1752 Parliament passed an Act64 in order to develop the Highlands. Smith65 has described what took place and detailed the lack of improvement in the Scottish inn. This was due in part to the “… close-knit family relationships of the gentry ensured that few journeys took them out of reach of the houses of friends or relations … such open-handed hospitality was an enjoyable social custom for those who shared it, [but] there was one detrimental effect. With no expectation of refined clients, Scottish inns made no attempt to cater for the discriminating, and their reputation was for a long time deservedly bad.”66
Other modern writers have also made such contrasts and Stuart, too, was concerned with ‘pictures’. “The old Scottish inns defy any attempt to glamorise them into the Christmas card prettiness that has transfigured their English counterparts.” 67 This Scottish concern, perhaps even jealousy, for a nicer pub in England, was expressed also by McLaren: “And as for the pub or inn, which in an English village is not only so full of charm but is, along with the church, an essential element of the place, here the contrast is to be seen and felt at its most poignant. Bare and unfurnished as a station waiting-room, decorated only by the crudest advertisements for spirits and tobacco, it possesses only too often an air of furtiveness and unfriendliness imposed upon it by being the public place of sin in a small community.68
McLaren does point to the public house in Scotland as one important part of the social life in the smaller, often cut off communities. The city, however, cannot be viewed in the context of the present discussion, as a different case and is, after all, a network of small communities.    For this reason it is proposed to discuss town and city together and explore one possible influence on the social use to which the Scottish public house was put. It is to do with housing. While in a previous section we considered other aspects of the influence of the Auld Alliance, it has been said that conurbations were designed on the French model of upwards rather than outwards2 thereby condensing the population into a more tightly packed social unit.

Let's take another look at that source given on the Alcohol page.

By the beginning of the nineteenth century heavy drinking was common in Wales. The situation deteriorated in 1830 when the Beer Law was passed that allowed any taxpayer who paid two guineas a year to open a beer house. This led to a significant increase in the number of public houses, especially in the towns and industrial areas.

The public houses were increasingly opposed by many people for a number of different reasons: wives worrying about their husband's heavy drinking, chapel goers worrying about moral standards and industrial masters worrying about absence from work. Consequently, the forming of temperance societies, bodies that originated in the United States, was welcomed. By 1835 there were 25 temperance societies in Wales, including one in Aberystwyth.


We move out of the pub if still in control.