Closing time? Not yet!
November 13, 2002 2:31 PM   Subscribe

Britain's Pubs to Entertain Longer Hours? Tony Blair Says Yes! In an effort to curb binge drinking and overall ruddy behavior after closing times at 11pm, Parliament has it before them to allow for extended bar hours, rather than fixed open and closing hours. Communities would have some sort of say in which pubs would be able to have which hours, probably based on distance to residential areas, etc. CAMRA, the Campaign for Real Ale was one of the formal organizations backing this plan. Open All Hours? is a group opposing the plan. Check it out!
posted by djspicerack (32 comments total)
You can't drink past 11pm in the UK? How come I've never heard of this?

That's insane. I don't think any states in the US have last calls that early (maybe Utah :).
posted by mathowie at 2:37 PM on November 13, 2002

except in Utah you basically have to be sponsored to go to a place that serves in the first place (perhaps just in the Salt Lake City area?)

I don't think any other states are that early - most are like 1am or so.

I hadn't heard about this either - kind of crazy.
posted by djspicerack at 2:39 PM on November 13, 2002

As someone from a country with late closing times, and after having spent a week in London where we were ushered out the bar at 11pm sharp (the time we usually start drinking here in alcohol drenched South Africa), this is good news indeed for my cousin over there...
posted by PenDevil at 2:42 PM on November 13, 2002

Clarification: you can't drink past 11pm in England.

Yet another reason to move to Scotland .. :)
posted by bwerdmuller at 2:44 PM on November 13, 2002

Mathowie: If I recall the 11pm limit was put in place during WWI to conserve electricity/fuel/something? I might be mistaken here so any Brits out there feel free to prove me wrong.
posted by PenDevil at 2:45 PM on November 13, 2002

good call bwerdmuller..... friend of mine here at work is just about to leave for there tonight - i'll make sure and let him know that, too.
posted by djspicerack at 2:46 PM on November 13, 2002

Well the pubs empty out at 11pm and then you head to a club which are typically open till 2am (well that's the time when they can serve alcohol) and 2am is plenty late enough in my book.
posted by zeoslap at 2:53 PM on November 13, 2002

PenDevil: [from Pubwatch {scroll down}]
'In the early 1900s, pubs opened for upto 19 hours a day, but during World War I ministers adopted more draconian rules to curb drunkenness among munitions workers. The 1921 licensing act allowed pubs to open for up to 10 hours during the week and five on Sunday.
This was consolidated into the 1964 licensing act, the basis of today's licensing laws. In 1988, the government abolished the compulsory weekday afternoon break in pubs in England and Wales, but they were still forced to close at 11 p.m. (2300 gmt). In 1995, pubs were allowed to serve drinks all day, but those that do can only open from noon and must close at 10.30 p.m. (2230 gmt).'

You can drink past 11 in England if:

You have a music/dancing licence (and there are somevery small dance floors around).

You are serving food.

You close the curtains, turn down the lights & keep quiet ;-)

mathowie: When I tell folks here that smoking is banned inside all bars & restaurants in CA (apart from that Arabic place on Upper Haight) they think that's pretty insane...
posted by i_cola at 3:00 PM on November 13, 2002

PenDevil, you're right about the time period but it was actually to stop people turning up to work drunk at munitions factories and the like. On Sundays it's 10.30. Some archaic laws we have make sense, such as it being legal to kill Welsh people in (I think) Chester, but this one never really has.

Clubs have different licenses and are open well into the wee hours. Most pubs have strange hours to abide by though. As i_cola suggests though, most local pubs will do a lock-in on some nights. Depends if the landlord fancies a pint. Mine usually does.

The article is right about the trouble in town centres. Where I live most of the places people would tend to go on a Friday / Saturday night are all in one small-ish area. There's always people milling around but suddenly between 11 and 12 there's people with alcohol inside them everywhere trying to get food / a taxi / whatever. It's a recipe for trouble, and to some degree it always happens.
posted by vbfg at 3:03 PM on November 13, 2002

but suddenly between 11 and 12 there's people with alcohol inside them everywhere trying to get food / a taxi / whatever.

Ah, I remember those days, stumbling down Portobello Road, avoiding extremely drunk, very large, and very loud blokes with lots of energy and nothing to do. Sometimes a kebab satiated them; often it did not.

What was frustrating was that while clubs were open late night (often all night), they had high cover charges, and the drinks were prohibitively expensive.

I say good riddance to outdated laws.
posted by mapalm at 3:28 PM on November 13, 2002

We adopted later licensing in New Zealand about when I started drinking.

When I was in England a couple of years ago, I got alarmingly rat-arsed. Everyone was drinking in rounds, at a much faster pace than I'm used to these days, in order to sink as many pints as possible before 11. Bleah. And you could only get a drink after 11 from some horribly overpriced club.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 3:36 PM on November 13, 2002

There are plenty of places you can drink past 11 in England already as people have said. Unfortunately most of them are so horrendous it's more a punishment than a blessing.

Am I wrong in thinking that Labour promised to do this in their first term and then just brushed it under the table? Whatever, good on yer Tony Blair.
posted by squealy at 3:39 PM on November 13, 2002

You can't drink past 11pm in the UK? How come I've never heard of this?

DAMN! The conspiracy's been revealed.
posted by HTuttle at 4:25 PM on November 13, 2002

i just got to thinking - maybe this hasn't mattered to the ruling elite since 1921 (wasn't that after the great war 1914 - 1918?) because they can always drink 'at the club'. who cares if the proles are chucked out of their 'club' at some arbitrary time?
so you can add 'members only clubs' to i_cola's list. some places (all night pool-halls etc.) serve alcohol all night, and require a membership fee (though no id is required to get one).
posted by asok at 4:36 PM on November 13, 2002

I still await the day when I don't have to plan ahead on Saturday to buy Kegs for football on Sunday here in the South. Putting that much foresight into binge alcoholism disturbs me on some fundamental level.
posted by Stan Chin at 4:36 PM on November 13, 2002

Under current law, the maximum opening hours are 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Monday through Saturday. Last call is 10:30 p.m. on Sunday.

Several bloats I know in Dallas from the UK have tried to explain this to us at the pubs in Dallas. First it was going on last call at 2am., now they make sense. Thanks for filling me in with the facts, djspicerack.

When I tell folks here that smoking is banned inside all bars & restaurants in CA (apart from that Arabic place on Upper Haight) they think that's pretty insane...

But my friends tell me that if the consensus of the patrons in the bar agree to smoke then you can smoke. Am I being mislead i_cola?
Also we are about to loose our smoking privileges in Dallas at the bars and resteraunts if Laura Milller has her way. From what I take California sounds more liberal, miss my liberal status.
posted by thomcatspike at 4:38 PM on November 13, 2002

Squealy: You're right, it was an informal election pledge in 97 and explicitly so in 2001.

Licensing law reform is small consolation in the face of the wholesale attack on the legal system announced in yesterday's Queen's Speech.
posted by dmt at 12:40 AM on November 14, 2002

What do gigs count as in England? Clubs or pubs? I know that here in New Zealand a lot of live music is held in pubs that are open forever and this to me causes a problem...the headliner always comes on bloody late. I went and saw Stephen Malkmus on a week-night and if I remember rightly he came on at 12am and played for an hour and a's alright for him....

I'd LOVE for pubs to close at 11 - I'd certainly go to a lot more gigs. But I'm probably just getting old and grumpy.
posted by meech at 2:10 AM on November 14, 2002

Asok, having been involved in the licensing of a private member's club when I was a student, I can assure you they are as restricted in the hours they can open as everyone else.

As far as I remember only trains and hotels are allowed to serve alcohol for 24 hours a day.
posted by prentiz at 2:13 AM on November 14, 2002

Not only was it a formal election pledge, the Labour Party actually texted young voters with the promise that a vote for Labour was a vote for all-night drinking. Then did nothing about it.
posted by Summer at 2:14 AM on November 14, 2002

meech - it depends entirely where the gig is held. If the gig is in a pub, it will usually end at 10.45pm, to allow the building to be cleared by closing time. Clubs, obviously, have more flexibility and can go later, up until 2am, but will often still finish by 11pm, especially if it's a week night.

I've not been to any gigs in stadiums, but I imagine they fall under the same laws as pubs and finish by 11pm.
posted by Skaramoosh at 2:32 AM on November 14, 2002

"Several bloats I know in Dallas...."

I guess it was the beer that did it.
posted by lerrup at 2:35 AM on November 14, 2002

The rules have been slowly eroded during Labour's time in government, for example:

You no longer have to have a music/entertainment licence to apply for extended hours - any pub can currently apply to the local council have extended opening hours. Almost all the pubs in the centre of Birmingham have late licenses, and a few in suburbia, (such as my local), have a bar extension to use at their leisure. Some of the bigger clubs in Birmingham won't close until 6am nowadays.

Additionally, all hotel (and train) bars may open for as long as they want, as long as you're staying there.
posted by BigCalm at 2:45 AM on November 14, 2002

Cheers BigCalm: couldn't believe the nonsense people were talking. Haven't had to leave a pub in central london before 12:30 for years. I have to leave at 12:30 normally, to catch the last overland train home (unless I'm staying on for a club, in which case there's one at 6AM). Wish there was a bar on that ...
posted by walrus at 4:42 AM on November 14, 2002

walrus: You have to tell us where you're drinking! I'm sick and tired of being turfed out of soho dives on the stroke of 11.15!
posted by dmt at 6:03 AM on November 14, 2002

There was a time when Sunday drinking was even more bizarre. The pubs would be open from about 12pm until 2pm and then open 7pm and shut again at 10.30pm. So if you wanted to drink all day you'd have to leave the pub before 2pm, go to the off license to stock up on booze and then go around someones house until the pub opened again. This only changed under John Major's government about ten years ago.

These days I'm usually out of a pub by 10.30. I must be getting old.
posted by dodgygeezer at 6:18 AM on November 14, 2002

dmt: maybe it's a weekend thing? I don't tend to go out in the week. It's mainly soho dives I drink at, but I don't have time to write a list right now, so I'll post a few here later.
posted by walrus at 9:59 AM on November 14, 2002

Ok, dunno what type of bars you like, so I'll make it easy. Don't type anything in the search box, hit Central & City for postcode, Tottenham Court Road, Oxford Street or wherever for nearest tube and click the search button. The ones with little purple boxes have late licenses. My more usual policy is to stagger around just after 11 and follow my nose to the alcohol. There's also a few places we tend to always hit late, probably for that reason.
posted by walrus at 11:36 AM on November 14, 2002

ps that search link came via this search, which was my first guess. Could probably do better. And I should probably proofread my comments before posting, so I don't forget these things quite so often.
posted by walrus at 11:40 AM on November 14, 2002

prentiz - maybe it's just easier for them to have lock-ins? the members bars where i live stay open until 3 or 5am.

AFAIK, you can get alcohol most of the night at a casino or pool hall. some pool halls (contains flash; and hilarious quote 'like New York, only better') even pretend to be nightclubs, just to add to the confusion.
posted by asok at 1:12 PM on November 14, 2002

I saw a blip of news that said 24 hours will be the rule now, like it had a good chance to pass.
posted by thomcatspike at 2:42 PM on November 15, 2002

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