In 1924 Charles Ivins, (b.1877) licensee of the Station Hotel, Amersham Hill applied for an additional Licence to operate an Off Licence in Sycamore Road, Amersham at premises which had been used as a boot shop. At the same time, just across the road from Charles Ivins’ premises, Mr. Cecil Arthur Moss, tobacconist, also applied for an Off Licence. Both were refused.
The following year, 1925, Charles Ivins again sought the additional licence for his premises at 2 Sycamore Road, Amersham Hill. The licence was to be for spirits, beer, cider, wine, and sweets. To be consumed off the premises, but not in open vessels and the spirits not in any quantity less than one quart bottle, and for wine not for any quantity less than one reputed pint bottle.
The Buckingham Examiner reported the case in detail on 6th February, 1925. The first skirmish was that the required notice was placed in the ‘Bucks Free Press’ and there was much discussion as to whether this publication had sufficient distribution in the district.
The case then moved onto the grounds for renewed application for the licence, and the question of what had changed since last year when he had been refused.
It appeared that Charles Ivins had in the meantime acquired an Excise licence which enabled him to sell spirits, wine and beer from his hotel in three dozen quantities (presumably for customers to take away as opposed to consuming on the premises), but his main justification being that large stores coming into the district could gain a licence and then open an off licence shop which would directly affect his business. The larger quantities that he was permitted to sell being ‘not what his customers wanted’, and furthermore, that they preferred to go into a shop to place their orders rather than going into the hotel.
To support his claim, he noted that the district was growing and he cited “Within a quarter mile diameter there were 88 houses; (within) half mile 257 houses; (within) three quarter mile 385 houses; (within) one mile 529 houses.” and furthermore, that the premises were on the route to the railway station which was used by 750 season ticket holders.
Since opening the shop in July 1924 under the excise licence, the figures he tabled showed takings of: July-August – £137; August-September – £171; September-October – £243; October-November – £192; November-December – £225; December-January – £333; January-February – £209.
Charles Ivins argued “There have been about one hundred houses put up since a twelve month ago… that is five hundred population … The whole reason I am applying is that it would be more convenient for the public to go there – they could go there while shopping and order small quantities – they want small quantities”
But since he argued that same point previously, and had been refused, what had changed, they asked.
“My view of the whole thing is that it is best to keep the money in the district. If you have a store opened by one of the big shops, they simply put a manager in, take the money and bank it. It is not a local affair”
They were still not convinced. Charles Ivins then said “The only reason is for the convenience of the public. We get enquiries continually”. The application was refused for a 2nd time.
All this is relatively uninteresting – except for the numbers quoted to support the application – unless you consider this exchange exactly 12 months later.
The Buckingham Examiner reported the case in detail on 5th February, 1926. This time, the application for the Sycamore Road premises was being pursued by Harold Joseph Stowell on behalf of F. S. Stowell Ltd. wine and spirit merchants who had successfully applied for licences at Chalfont St Peter and The Royal Standard of Old England at Forty Green, Penn. [Could this be Stowells of Chelsea? Ed.]
It appears that Charles Ivins had sold the premises in November 1925 for the sum of £2750. So the bench asked how come Mr Ivins sold a business to a competitor? It transpired that Charles Ivins and Harold Joseph Stowell had drawn up an agreement which stated that “Mr. Ivins undertook not to make any additions to or alter the premises at the Station Hotel so as to provide for a special form of trade such as an off licence trade, nor to financially interest himself in any such off licence within a 5 mile radius.”
A great argument then developed as to the restrictive nature of this agreement, but all to no avail. The application was once again rejected as being unnecessary as there were ample facilities already available in the area.
* * *
10 years later, in 1936 still the licensee of the Station Hotel, he is summoned for ‘supplying intoxicating liquors during non-permitted hours’.
The story was that at 11:14 on Saturday March 21st, 1936 a police officer saw two men meet at Amersham railway station, and go to the hotel. The officer followed and looking through a partly curtained window he saw drinking going on, and heard a customer toss the manageress for drinks – and lose. He saw the drinks brought, heard the cash register rung, and saw change given.
The defence by Ida Ireland, the manageress, reads more like an Ealing Comedy and is worth a light-hearted moment or two: “It is the police here. Would you open the door please” There was an immediate scuffle inside. Through the frosted glass the witness [PC Brookes] could see people dodging through another door… there was a clatter of glasses. The door was not opened and the witness (PC Brookes) stood on the window sill. He lifted one of the window lights and put his head through. Miss Ireland was behind the counter and dodged off. …. He went back the front door and knocked again. There was a further clatter of glasses. [PC Brookes] climbed onto the saloon bar window and put his head and shoulders through the window. Miss Ireland was doing something to some glasses under the counter. She then unfastened the door. “Why did you not let me in?” “Why should I let you in at this time of night?” All the glasses had disappeared from the tables, but soda water remained. There were three small liquor glasses on the shelf, with a small drop of liquor in them. Two of them had contained gin, and one whisky. He found the man who had previously been asleep concealed in the ladies lavatory.”
And so it continues…..
But Charles Ivins was not present when this event took place, and he was acquitted absolutely. In the hearing, it was noted that “Mr. Ivins had held a licence for 37 years, starting out with a small tenancy in Luton. There, by his industry and ability, he had raised himself to a position that was regarded as unique in that District. He held four licences, and was undoubtedly regarded as the leader of the licensed trade in that locality, and was regarded as such by local people. He was the past Chairman of the Beaconsfield and District Licences Victuallers’ Protection Association, which undoubtedly stood for all that was right and proper in the business which they ran. He came before them as not only a man of excellent character, but as a man who had risen from very small beginnings, which was a matter that everyone was bound to respect.”
Sounds brilliant, but I have to ask… what DOES it actually mean?
All of these goings-on are reported in wonderful detail in the Buckingham Examiner. Every cut and thrust of evidence. Clever questions; ribald answers; blind alleys and inconsequential trivia. Excellent material for a script writer.
For the genealogists amongst us, Frederick Charles Ivins’ ancestors can be traced back to William Ivens (b. circa 1740) of Stow on the Wold, Gloucestershire, via Little Compton (Warks), Oddington and Broadwell (Gloucs) …. In fact, Frederick Charles Ivins was the great nephew of the John Ivens (b.1763) referred to in the post about a murder in Long Compton. His family being none other than the family living next door to the murderer!