Bohemia Village Voice  Bohemia Village Voice

For bohemians everywhere

The British Workman – a pub without beer!

THE PUBS OF BOHEMIA – 2     From “The Pubs of Hastings & St Leonards” by kind permission of David Russell.

The British Workman today – Merrick House, corner of Salisbury and Bohemia Roads

The British Workman today – Merrick House, corner of Salisbury and Bohemia Roads

The first British Workman temperance ‘pub’ was set up in Leeds in 1867 and others quickly spread around the north of England. The first British Workman in the south opened at 105 Bohemia Road in 1871. About forty people  ‘mainly working men living in the neighbourhood’ attended. They drank tea and organised a sick fund, a drum and fife band, a bible class and a flower show.
The pub consisted of two large front rooms on the ground floor and a third room on the first floor. The bar was designed for drinking tea, (‘the cup that cheers but does not inebriate’), conversation, smoking and games. The landlord Mr Crouch used the second room and a third room was used as a reading room. The British Workman was located in the St Paul’s Workingmens’ Club in the building on the southeast corner of Salisbury Road.
Others followed. British Workman No. 2 opened in Hollington (1873), No. 3 in Castle Road (1879) and No. 4 in Waterworks Road (1885). They provided free teas, dinners and concerts for the unemployed during the recession but by the 1880s the tag: “temperance pub” had been dropped and the organisation had become very similar to the Salvation Army.
British Workman No. 1 was open from 9am to 11pm every day except Sundays for anyone who abstained from alcohol. It was also the headquarters of the Bohemia Lodge of The Good Templars who pursued a policy of total abstinence and absolute prohibition. They spent their time trying to persuade magistrates to close the pubs and not surprisingly landlords were very wary of this threat on their doorstep (the Hearts of Oak was opposite). British Workman No. 1 closed in 1894 and the building became the Bohemia Police and Fire Station. The Good Templars then moved to Park Road, Methodist Church.
o David is interested in any Hastings & St Leonards’ pub memories and photographs. David Russell: 200227.

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