Up until the early 1900s, it was legal for publicans so serve a ‘bona fide traveller’ alcohol outside of the usual opening times that they had a license for. This sparked a lot of debate about what a bona fide traveller really was and who would qualify to wet their whistle.
What is a bona fide traveller?
A bona fide traveller was basically someone who was travelling for business or for work. You could pop into a public house on your way from Airdrie to Glasgow if you were on your way to sell your goods down at the Clyde or a marketplace.
Why didn’t people just say they were travelling?
Well, that’s the thing… They did! People would chance their arm all the time and attempt to get a cheeky pint outside of the usual hours by saying they were a bona fide traveller. This was of course against the law though. It was common to see people being charged with impersonating a traveller, but a lot of people got away with it too. It was quite hard to prove unless you caught them in the act.
We talk about bona fide travellers and some of the convictions on our YouTube Channel if you would like to learn some more about the subject. You can visit the channel here.