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"The Red Lion Inn at Broadclyst is situated in an entirely rural district. The village proper contains but a few hundred inhabitants, but is  part of a large and scattered parish which stretches across country for a distance of seven miles and contains about two thousand inhabitants. The Association has no monopoly of local sales. In addition to the Red Lion and only half a mile distant is the New Inn, which, until recently was a beerhouse only, but has now acquired a full licence. There is another fully licensed house at the station, a mile and a half away. The next nearest licensed houses are two and a half miles and four miles distant respectively.

 

When the owner of the New Inn first applied for a full licence, the Association instructed its manager to oppose, but on the last occasion, owing to a strong local feeling in favour of the application, no opposition was offered. The effect of competition is, however, apparent.

 

In its structural arrangements the Red Lion is distinctly inferior to our first Inn (The Sparkford Inn, Sparkford, Somerset. . The bar proper consists of a private enclosure for those serving. In front of it is a passage leading from the main doorway, but divided into a sort of compartment by a separate door. It is here that "transients" are served*

 

*Because of the prevalence of licensed refreshment rooms on railway stations at this period, the Licensing laws differentiated between locals and what were termed "bona fide travellers" - the transients were the people who were just passing through, not the regulars.

 

At the side of the bar and communicating with it, is what is called the "glass" room. It is a cosy room, 25' by 12', furnished with small tables and leather-cushioned bench seats, and provided with a "polyphon"**, a draught board etc. On the night of our visit, it seemed to be chiefly frequented by young men. Behind the bar is a small private sitting room. On the other side of the passage is the tap-room, a somewhat bare and uninviting room, with whitewashed walls and a stone floor and furnished with a table and rude wooden benches. This room seemed to be exclusively used by the village labourers, a number of whom regularly spend their evenings there. (We ere, however, informed that women sometimes use the tap-room). The only games provided a re draughts (if the board is not required in the "glass" room) and "ring and peg".

 

A polyphon dating from around 1900
A polyphon dating from around 1900. Discs could be purchased separately so that the music could be kept up to date.

 

In another part of the building, but on the ground floor, is the tea room. This room, which measures about 25' by 19', has a separate entrance and is brightly and pleasantly furnished with basket chairs, small tables, an overmantel etc.  It is here that cyclists and other visitors are served. The room is also let once a month to the "Young Club" - a local sick benefit society which pays a rent of thirty shillings a year and is said to order little drink.

 

Upstairs is the dining room, a fine room, 40' by 20', which is used for "rent" dinners. It contains a good piano. The manager and his wife would like to use the room in the winter for smoking concerts, etc. but the Association wisely refuses its consent.

 

The trade done is of a general kind, but "a lot of gin" is said to be sold. The "off" sales are said to  be only fair. Gin is sold a penny per quarten cheaper for consumption off the premises but no reduction is made on other spirits or on beers.  There is a moderately large Sunday trade, the average takings amounting to about £3. Formerly, the Exeter bus called twice on Sundays - namely at 4pm and 7 pm but the customers it brought were so disorderly that the manager at last refused to serve them and the bus now calls at the New Inn.

 

There is evidently much local prejudice against the Red Lion, especially on the part of some who formerly frequented it. A good deal of this prejudice appears to be either unfounded or based upon resentment against the dispossession of the former tenant, a local man. At the same time, there is evidently a strong feeling on the part of some of the villagers that the conduct of the house is not what it might be, and it must be admitted that our own observation went to show that the management was less strict than in the case of the other houses visited. In one case that came under our won notice, a man left the tap-room obviously worse for liquor, but was allowed to return shortly afterwards, As he was notorious in the village for his drunken habits, the case could hardly have been an oversight.

 

There were also complaints that tea and other light refreshments were not always readily forthcoming. Our own visit gave us no opportunity of judging of these complaints. The proportion of temperance drinks and food sold is, however, small.

 

CONTINUED

 

 
 
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