Beer seizure – Extraordinary Revelations – Gallon small quantity

January 1871

Sheffield Telegraph, January 28th

The Seizure of Beer at Denaby Main,

Extraordinary Revelations

William Kirk, collier of Denaby main, was charged with having illegal possession of a quantity of beer at his house. Mr Whitfield appeared for the defendant. Mr superintendent Gillet stated that in consequence of certain information, he obtained a search warrant against the defendant, and on the 11th inst searched his house at Denaby Main. An 18 gallon barrel of beer on tap, and partly full was found and seized. A number of people were in the house drinking at the time.

Corroborative evidence was given by police Sgt Hogg, who stated that eight men were sitting in the house drinking when he visited it. The house bore all the appearance of a beer house. Cross examined, by Mr Whitfield, the officer said that the defendant had lodgers in his house. There was no public house in Denaby. Mr Kirk was not in when they house was searched, but Mrs Kirk was, and she stated in answer to questions that some of the men then in the house were lodgers, and no beer was sold there. The lodgers were in the habit of “clubbing” together and ordering the beer down direct from the brewery.

Police Constable Allanack also corroborated.

He had seen beer delivered by the brewer at Kirk’s house, generally twice a week. The house was known at Denaby as “the old licensed house, and “old number 12” . He never saw any beer sold.

Thomas Windle, a clerk in the service of Mr Blackman, of the Plant brewery Doncaster, produced a number of order papers, showing that on several occasions 12 gallon barrels of beerhad beensupplied to Kirk. These orders were entered in the ledger of the firm as debited to “the Denaby Main coal company,” but the witness said this was done for the sake of convenience only, the orders being really debited to the workmen at the Denaby Main colliery.

In answer to Mr Whitfield, the witness said it was not usual to supply beerhouse keepers with a small aquantity as 12 gallons. They seldom had less than three 18 gallon casks at a time. Joseph Hargreaves, a clerk at Messrs. NicolasĀ“s brewery Conisbrough, said they had supplied Kirk and others with beer for 12 months. All their dealings had been ready money transactions.

He read from a ledger 13 orders for beer from the defendant Kirk, which had been supplied on and after 13th December last, in quantities of 36 gallons at a time, in most instances. The total quantity supplied from 13 December 1870, to the seventh of the present month was 342 gallons. It thus appeared that including 172 gallons supplied by the Doncaster brewery from December 1 to the 19 January, the total quantity of beer supply to Kirk from December 1 to March 7 was 414 gallons.

In answer to Mr Whitfield, the witness Hargreaves said a gallon of beer per day was a small quantity for a Collier to drink. Some colliers drank three timesthat quantity. Mr Whitfield, in addressing the Bench for the defence, reminded them that there was no public house in the whole parish of Denaby, the nearest public house being at Sparrow barracks. He thought it was rather a wise thing for the Colliers to club together and buy their beer from the brewery in preference to going to a public house, where they were liable to get into trouble.

If the bench took into consideration the calling of a Collier, they must think that a gallon of beer per day per man was not a very extraordinary quantity. Some colliers drank considerably more than that. Calculating the quantity of beer supply to Kirk for his lodgers and himself, he found that it averaged half a gallon per day per man. He would call witnesses to show that Kirk never sold any beer in his house. If beer had been sold a witness could surely have been found to prove that such were the case. There was no proof whatsoever that beer had been sold. The colliers brought beer from the brewery at one shilling per gallon, whereas they would have to pay two shillings per gallon at a public house. Mrs Kirk, the defendants wife, said her husband, had had seven or eight lodgers since December last. Some of them drank a great deal of beer. Her husband could drink half a gallon at dinner time alone. Corroborative evidence was given by John Oven.

The bench consulted for a short time, and then said they did not think it was a case in which they could make an order, and therefore it would have to be dismissed. Mr Gill, then asked if it would be any use going into the cases against Daniel Concannon, William Venables, and Michael Oday, which were of a precisely similar kind.

The bench said that unless Mr Gillett could bring different evidence it would be useless going into them. The cases were therefore dismissed, and the cask will be returned tomorrow (Tuesday) to the owners of it.