Theatre’s successful appeal over licence

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1914 Police Court

At the Borough Police Court this morning, Mr Hart renewed the application he made recently on behalf of the proprietors of the Londesborough Theatre with regard to the liquor licence. The previous application was adjourned to allow of a full attendance of magistrates. During a lengthy address to their worships, he said that they desired a modification of the condition with regard to the sale of intoxicants. When the licence was granted in January the condition imposed said that no liquor should be sold or consumed in any part of the premises during a performance in the course of which cinematograph pictures were shown. When that condition was imposed they had had no experience of the effect that it would have. The theatre opened on July 13th, and the performance included a matinee performance sometimes held, sometimes not. In the evening there were two performances, one commencing at 6.55, and concluding at about 8.45, the other taking place between 9 and about 10.50. The main part of these performances consisted of variety turns, but cinematograph pictures were shown also. If the pictures occupied only 10 minutes his clients were precluded from selling intoxicating liquor. Originally, he continued,the refreshment room was open all day, with anyone having access to it. The present bar would be self-enclosed within the theatre, and it would be necessary to pay for admission to the theatre before it could be used. Doing away with pictures would be a disadvantage, and would necessitate additional expenditure.

It was admitted by the magistrates by the existing condition, that it was right and proper that people might have refreshment so long as they were seeing dancing or hearing singing on the stage. As soon as pictures were shown - quite illogical it seemed to him - there should be no longer any thirst. They asked for unrestricted freedom to sell drink during the evening performances. His clients had expended close upon £15,000 in what everyone would agree was a decided attraction to the town. It had been found that the two evening performances averaged 180 pass-out checks, and it was estimated that two-thirds of these were taken in order to obtain refreshment. It appeared that 120 people nightly had to leave the Londesborough Theatre in order to obtain refreshment which they could not get within the building.

Proceeding, Mr Hart submitted a condition, which he hoped the bench would give his clients opportunity to accept, to the effect that “No intoxicating liquor should be sold or consumed in any part of the premises at any time except during a performance or exhibition in the theatre, commencing not earlier than 6.30pm and between the periods of half an hour before the commencement and half an hour after the conclusion of such performance or exhibition, and that the refreshment room should be closed at all other times and during the hours prescribed by the law.”

After a lengthy retirement it was announced that the Bench would grant a modification to the extent that no liquor was to be sold on the premises during a theatrical or variety entertainment which included any exhibition of cinematograph pictures extending to more than one-fifth of the time occupied for the whole of the entertainment, and during the periods between half an hour before the commencement and half an hour after the conclusion of the entertainment.