Tailor’s Arms

The Tailors’ Arms, or Taylor’s Arms dated from around 1855, and was one of a dozen pubs on Clayport until magistrates decided not to renew its licence in 1908. The large-scale Ordnance Survey Town Plans from the National Library of Scotland help us to understand why <here>.

In the late 19th century this was an area of poor housing. It was identified as unhealthy in both Robert Rawlinson’s 1850 report on the Cholera outbreak, and the 1898 report by Dr. George Seaton Buchanan on the sanitary condition of Alnwick. Other areas were seen as an even bigger problem at the time of the Cholera outbreak, but in 1897 the Local Board’s “Death Rate Committee” estimated that infant mortality in this neighbourhood was 50%. By then, there were 225 people living in this area, nearly all at a density of more than three to a room. It was judged to be some of the worst housing in the town, and in 1898 it was chosen as a priority for slum clearance.

“A large proportion of the dwellings of the town, principally those occupied by the poorer classes, are to be found huddled on small areas at the back of the main throughfares.” … “Buildings have subsequently been packed on this strip of back yard” … “Going through into a court of this kind one finds a passage some four or six feet wide, extending the length of the property” … “Along one side of the passage is a high wall” … “along the other side is a row of buildings, most of them two story dwelling houses, others, stables, or cowshed.”

By 1908 there had been some housing improvements, but the quality was still below standard. Magistrate’s were trying to reduce the number of pubs in Alnwick, and they decided not to renew the licence for the Tailor’s Arms. These are extracts from their report:

Supt. Bolton said that one could get into the back of this house without going through the passage way from the front of the house, and there was a lot of tenemented property at the back, occupied by poor tenants, who caused no end of trouble to the police….

Clayport was the worst part of Alnwick, and had the most public-houses in proportion to the population. Out of 213 persons convicted for drunkenness in Alnwick, last year, 70 were from the Clayport district; the population was small, the proportion of drunkenness being far greater than any other part, in comparison.

The home was very much frequented by women living in yards adjoining, who could get into this house unperceived better than they could get into others. Witness said he would not say the women he saw drinking there were of a low class. He did not think, all the same, that such women would go to other houses in the middle of the day where there were not the same facilities to pop in unobserved. Mr. Percy, witness denied that a great many women, to his knowledge, went down the backyard to drink in the house.

After some consideration in private the Bench said they had decided to refuse to renew this.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s