Pubs have played a big part in Glasgow’s history. The majority of Glasgow’s men would visit their local every day! As a result of this, there were many attempts to stop alcohol consumption.
There have been bans on buying your friends a drink known as NO TREATING and there have been bans on alcohol consumption altogether. This resulted in a multitude of unlicensed premises (Shebeens) all over Glasgow.
In 1894 some Shebeens would charge up to 3 or 4 pence a pint! That was a lot of money back then. The Shebeens were mostly in ordinary living rooms caravans or sheds. They had sophisticated equipment for distilling and brewing. The shebeener’s would hire an array of people to be “Shebeen Watchers”. These would range from old women hanging out of their windows keeping an eye out for police, also ordinary men and women would follow undercover police coming out of the station.
There were constant raids from police looking for the “distillers”, but these were often well hidden in the surrounding homes. Hidden under the floorboards, hidden in the walls, anywhere that they thought would fool the police. On one occasion, the police knew where people were getting illegal liquor and even knew the tenants of the flat. After nearly a year without proof and 8 raids later the police finally got them.
Two floors up the close there was a vacant flat which was used as a shebeen with all the mod cons and copper piping running straight down the inner walls and through the chimney flue, with a tap on the tenant’s fireplace. All they had to do was just turn on the tap.
Sometimes the police would have successful raids. This did not always mean that there would be arrests, as “Herb Beer” was sometimes sold in place of real alcohol. Herb beer had the same taste, same smell and same look as real beer, without the alcohol.
The one thing I have learned from this is that Glaswegians will never give up their Whisky.
I would like to thank John jun for his input and research on this subject. Cheers John jnr.
‘Paraffin Oil’ – 1889
Joseph O’Neil was charged with trading in excisable liquors without having a licence in a house in William Street. When the police entered the house, they were told that there was no whisky in the house and all that he had was “paraffin oil”.
The “Most offensive liquor” was found inside the two bottles of “Paraffin Oil”. When Joseph O’Neil was rumbled, he tried to convince the police that the bottles belonged to a “tattihowker at Bearsden”.
Joseph was fined £5.00 with the option for 30 days imprisonment for his crime.
Shebeening at Shettleston
Elizabeth Hazeldeanm residing in Wellshot Terrace, Shettleston, was brought before Justices Warren and Richardson on Monday, for having, on the 1st inst., it was alleged, trafficked in ale and porter, in her house there, without being in possession of a license. The house occupied by the accused had for some time past, it was stated, been a reputed shebeen. The place was, in virtue of a warrant, searched on the day referred to by two police officials, who found five dozen and ten bottles of porter and beer in it. At the close of the evidence the Justices imposed a modified fine of 30s, costs included, with the usual alternative.