Beer prices in 1959

Beer prices in 1959 may seem a random date, but it’s one I happen to have a record for. 

Because a battered notebook, handed down to me, records the income and outgoings of a family pub/farm.

It gives an idea of beer prices in 1959 to 1961 inclusive – and also what the ‘locals’ enjoyed drinking when they called in for a pint and packet of crisps.

And there are a few comparative prices of interest, too. Because while ‘beer prices in 1959’ is likely to be more popular search on Google than ‘sheep prices in 1959,’ this blog is primarily focused on ‘stuff that I think is interesting’, not internet rankings.

Glass of white wine for the lady?

Not in 1959, that’s for sure. From the regular purchases in the book (and assuming it wasn’t the tipple of choice for farmers and labourers), it seems women opted for Babycham.

And if you have no idea what that is, there’s a BBC story here, from its 60th ‘birthday’.

I suspect the sherry and gin were for ‘the ladies’ as well.

It looks like two breweries supplied the alcohol: Penrith brewery Glassons, and another called Duttons.

Here’s one month’s purchases from Glassons for our pub, in a Cumbrian village.

Beer prices in 1959: June

  • 3 barrels ale £3 12 shillings
  • 4 barrels bitter £3 10s
  • 10 dozen light ale £2
  • 10 dozen Guinness £2
  • 4 dozen Worthington £16
  • 12 dozen Mackesons £2 8s
  • 12 dozen brown ale £2 8s
  • 10 dozen Bass £2
  • 6 dozen lager £1 4s
  • 4 dozen Babychams 16 shillings

Other months include:

  • 6 bottles whisky £2
  • 4 bottles gin £1 10s
  • 6 bottles sherry £1 4s
  • 4 Whitbreads 16 shillings
  • 4 bottles rum £1
  • 1 dozen cider 6 shillings
  • 10 dozen Skol £1 10 shillings
  • 2 brandy 10 shillings
  • 2 port £2.

Along with: ‘nut brown’; crown ale; DPA; OBJ; forest brown; Fowlers: blue label; green label; and; ‘special’.

The 1960 lists include cherry brandy and ‘pink lady’. Which these days is a variety of apple. I have no idea what it was then. An internet search pulls up a cocktail recipe – I don’t think our Cumbrian pub is likely to have sold cocktails sixty years ago, somehow!

Sundries

The pub also sold two types of cigarettes: Wills and Players. Along with crisps, and ‘pop’ (I assume fizzy lemonade).

Petrol

‘Shell maps’ appear a regular purchase, preumably bought by passing travellers in need of directions. And the petrol pump outside would have been greatly in demand.

In 1961, they bought in 400 gallons of petrol a month to sell. A monthly outlay of £84 3 shillings and 4 pence, for a monthly profit of £8 6 shillings when it was sold.

Farm prices

The pub was one side of the family business. The book also records farm expenses. Which may be of less interest to most readers than the beer!

Sheep

1959 September.

Bought: 9 ewes, 1 tup £71 17 shillings 6 pence

(Black lambs, number unspecified, £440).

Over the year, they sold 144 lambs, for a clear profit of £128 7 shillings and 3d.

And they sold £34 14 shillings and 8 pence worth of wool.

Cattle

Cows sold by the farm across 1959 brought in between £41 and £94 per animal. a heifer sold for £49 10 shillings, and bullocks sold for between £43 and £50 10 shillings.

Farm expenses

The vet’s bill in July 1959 was £13. Which makes a recent one I paid seem not so bad, if you work out that £13 could have bought 39 bottles of whisky at the time!

The family paid contractors £5 15 shillings for threshing, and £16 15 shillings for ‘ploughing etc’.

Cattle feed cost £37 5 shillings (quantity unknown). 

Footnote

In 1961, it was deemed time to retire. The livestock and farm equipement were sold, along with spare furniture. The ‘handover’ of the pub also brought in a few hundred pounds.

Selling the horse (for £40) was likely a sad goodbye.

The home they retired to was a 1930s semi in Carlisle. On a street where something similar today would cost you £158,000.

In 1961, it cost £2,600.

A new hoover (vacuum cleaner) cost £29. That’s the equivalent then of 87 bottles of whisky!

  • Picture: no longer a pub, but part of the premises is still commercial.