A History Of Pub Culture In The UK
Traditionally in the UK, the Pub (short for Public House) was a place where the community got together to share the local gossip, and for entertainment.
In the days before radio and television, apart from the local newspapers, the local pub was the centre of the community, a focal point for many of the people living in the area.
After World War Two, when people in the UK began to relocate and to move from what had been a local area for their family for generations to other parts of the country, that sense of community began to vanish.
At the same time, the introduction of radio and television provided other forms of entertainment in the home, which meant that there was less need to go to the pub to find out what was going on.
By the 1970’s, it also became common for women to go to the pub, either in groups or with their partner, whereas previously it was often frowned upon for women to frequent what was a drinking establishment.
The reason for going to the pub therefore became one of drinking and partying, and with an ever growing population in the UK, and an increasing number of cars on the road, something had to be done to try and reduce the number of accidents that were being caused by drivers who had too much to drink.
A Brief History Of Drink Driving Laws In The UK
As far back as 1872 laws were passed to make it illegal to be in charge of carriages, horses, cattle and steam engines, but it was the introduction of the Legal Drink Driving Limit in 1967 and the roadside Breathalyser test, that began to have an impact on the pubs.
The legal limit set in 1967 was 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood or the equivalent 107 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of urine.
The law has been tightened up over the years, and updates in 2010 lowered the limit to just 50 mg of alcohol per 100ml and the equivalents in both breath and urine.
How Cultural Changes Have Affected Eating Habits In The UK
As a result of the ever tightening laws on drinking and driving in the UK, many pubs saw a sharp decrease in the amount of business that they were doing, and in fact a large number of pubs did close their doors as a result.
Pubs traditionally did not serve food, but it was seen that by serving food, they could attract customers for reasons other than just drinking alcohol, and by the 1970’s many pubs could be found serving traditional British food items, such as a Ploughman’s Lunch, Sausage and Chips, or Chicken and Chips.
Serving food at a pub was a big success, and some pubs created family rooms and beer gardens, where children were allowed, since traditionally only people of drinking age could enter a pub.
The pub then began to turn into a place where families could go for a meal and a drink, and where the children could play safely in the playground, or on arcade games.
Prior to this, many people outside of the larger cities would rarely go out to eat, except to the local Fish And Chip Shop to take home a meal, but now in almost every part of the country, there were pubs that offered a growing food menu at a reasonable price, and the concept of the pub changed forever as a result.
The selection of food items available on a pub menu has continually become more exotic, moving from it’s beginnings with traditional British food, to popular items such as curries and other Asian dishes.
The Next Generation Of Pubs
Now there are a number of national chains of pubs with restaurants that serve a wide variety of meals, and in addition there is a new “up market” type of pub, the “Gastro Pub“.
The Gastro Pub is not cheap, but it serves fancy food at a fancy price to an audience that appreciates fine dining.
These are becoming very popular, especially in some of the villages, as more and more pubs compete with each other for a growing public that demands more from them in terms of a meal out.
The Carvery is also a popular type of meal at a pub, where traditional roast meats and vegetables are served.
As you can see, the changes in society since the Second World War led to restrictions on drinking and driving, which in turn led the pubs to find other sources of income.
As a result, the UK found a new delight in eating out, and it will be interesting to see what what the next ten years brings as far as changes to the pub culture in Great Britain.
Drink Driving And Motoring History In The UK