In 1834 a correspondent to the Stamford Mercury described “A Sunday in Market Deeping” expressing great disapproval at the inhabitants’ conduct. In the evening … “public houses are filled with the dissipated and scenes of riot and drunkenness occur which are appalling to the better disposed and would be a disgrace to any place.”
The Beerhouse Act of 1830 allowed any rate-payer to buy a licence to brew and sell beer from their premises, between 4am and 10pm. It was the government’s intention that this would reduce the price of beer, encouraging people to drink it, rather than more harmful and expensive spirits.
Around the same time, the Temperance Movement was formed in Lancashire, to campaign throughout the country against the consumption of all intoxicating drinks. By the 1840s, it was reported that the Movement “has for some time been slowly going on at Market Deeping and Deeping St James”. More than fifty people signed the pledge to abstain from all alcohol, “including several drunkards”.
In 1856 in Deeping St James, as well as thirteen pubs, there were eleven beerhouses. The most remote beer seller was Francis Fowler, a farmer in Cranmore Drove, who called his premises Cranmore Inn. Now known as Cranmore Farm, it is hidden behind trees on the left of the photograph. The only passing trade was likely to be from men who were driving cattle to and from the fen.
The Anchor and the Crown beerhouses were in Town Street, the Ship in Eastgate was kept by William Sutton a farm labourer, and the Horse & Groom in Horsegate was run by John Wright a wheelwright. At Frognall, farmer William Wenham also sold beer.
Gradually the Temperance Movement gained more local converts. Around 300 people attended a social meeting in Deeping St James in 1872, and 26 people joined as total abstainers. They held festivals with sports and dancing and musical evenings to attract new members. In Market Deeping there was also a Temperance Society cricket team.
In the early 20th century, temperance drinks such as Vimto, Dandelion & Burdock and herbal beers became popular. Lee & Green Ltd of Bourne produced ginger beer in stone bottles, similar to the Brownson’s bottle in the photograph. This contained the less appealing concoction of Sarsparilla and Dandelion Stout.
At meeting of Bourne Brewster Sessions in 1911, the chairman commented that many people no longer considered it respectable to give way to drunkenness, but that Deeping had more licensed houses than it should have, per head of population. There were still sixteen in Deeping St James, for 1,543 people, and fourteen in Market Deeping for a population of 947 – but “Langtoft was top of the list for drunkenness.”