In nineteenth-century Britain few cities could rival Liverpool for recorded drunkenness. The Licensed City examines how and why maritime Liverpool came to have such a terrible reputation and what was done to target the city’s dismal record. Civic pride at Liverpool’s imperial influence was undercut by anxieties about social problems that could all be connected to alcohol, from sectarian unrest and prostitution in the city’s streets to child neglect and excess mortality in its slums. These dangers, heightened in Liverpool by the apparent connections between the drink trade and the city’s civic elite, marked urban living and made alcohol a pressing political issue.
As a temperance movement emerged to tackle the dangers of drink, campaigners challenged policy makers to re-imagine the limits and influence of government intervention to free people from harm. And while national leaders could scarcely agree on what kinds of reform would be philosophically and practically palatable, The Licensed City demonstrates how social reformers in Liverpool helped to recode the regulatory challenge from one of policing desperate drunkards to sorting out the system that sold them drink. And it is through these local reforms to the number, location, layout and use of pubs and beer shops that Liverpool could tackle its reputation as the drunkenness capital of England.
The Licensed City reveals just how battles over booze have made the modern city. As such, it forces us to confront how we construct problem drinking today. And it asks whether our regulatory systems are equipped to tackle future challenges.
David Beckingham is 1596 Foundation Fellow and College Lecturer in Geography, Sidney Sussex College, University of Cambridge.
"A scholarly and well-argued book based upon a wealth of excellent research."
Professor John Greenaway, University of East Anglia
239 x 163 mm
May 1, 2017