The Brewster Sessions were the "annual meetings of licensing justices to deal with the grant, renewal, and transfer of licences to sell intoxicating liquor".
The following report is based on newspaper coverage of the 1855 sessions.
On the bench:
In advance of the session, the Examiner reported that the British Queen public house in Marsden was the only one in the area which had not applied for a licence renewal — the premises would "henceforth abdicate and retire from 'public' business altogether."
George Armitage opened the session by reporting that there had been 27 infringements of the Sunday Beer Bill during the previous 12 months and that the total number of licensed premises was 280. He then cautioned those who had been convicted during the year: John Balderson (Smiths Arms Inn, Castlegate), Joe Crossley (Hope on Anchor Inn, Kirkgate), James Dennison (Grove Inn, Spring Grove Street), Harriet Dyson (Cross Keys Inn, High Street), William Leech (Bull's Head Inn, Beast Market), and George Wood (Kayes Arms Inn, Quay Street).
He then stated that he was going to recommend that the licence of Luke Swift (Clothiers' Arms Inn, Kirkgate) not be renewed. He noted that the licence had been previously suspended in 1844 and refused to a tenant in 1848. Swift had been cautioned in 1854 for "keeping a disorderly house" and, on 21 January 1855, had been fined 40 shillings for "harbouring prostitutes".
Other cautions were then issued to: Fleetwood Mills, George Hirst (Junction Inn, Cartworth), Eneas Fisher (Royal Oak, Cumberworth), William Storey (Commercial Inn, Moldgreen), John Brierly (Shipwreck Inn, Yew Green, Lockwood), John Carter (Bath Hotel, Linthwaite), Abel Hobson (Star Inn, Linthwaite), Uriah Hobson (Clothiers' Arms, Upperthong), Wilson Hutchinson (Sovereign Inn, Shepley), John Smith (Fleece Inn, South Crosland), J. Walker (Oddfellows Arms Inn, South Crosland), and Joseph Lodge (Rose and Crown Inn, South Crosland).
Charles Brook, the Constable of Meltham "who has made himself very notorious in the locality where he resides, for his amiable desire to put down all immorality", was rebuked for making charges without proof. The Examiner recounted that he had called late at night at the Kings Life Guard Inn at Meltham Mills and found it closed. Suspecting that the landlord might be harbouring drinkers inside, he knocked on the door but got no answer. His suspicions seemingly confirmed, he then smashed one of the inn's windows with his staff. This had the desired effect of bringing out the landlord "to see who it was that was storming his castle". Having gained entry, the constable found the premises were empty.
After hearing from the Constable of Honley, the licence of Jesse Howarth (Jacob's Well Inn) was suspended until the adjourned session.
Mr. Clough then rose and stated that he represented the owner of the Clothiers' Arms (Kirkgate) and requested that the bench transfer the licence to him until a new tenant could be put in place. The bench stated they would consider the request at the adjourned session.
Of the 11 new applications, 2 were granted and 1 deferred to the adjourned session:
|Samuel Peaker||Broad Ing, Austonley||N|
|Joseph Eastwood||Skelmanthorpe, Cumberworth-Half||Y|
|David Lockwood||Dalton Lane End, Dalton||N|
|William Turner||Honley Bridge, Honley||"near the railway station"||N|
|Joseph Oxley||West Parade, Huddersfield||Old Hat beerhouse, West Parade||deferred|
|Samuel McMillan||Shore, Huddersfield||N|
|Richard Barker||Market Place, Huddersfield||N|
|James Binns||Dogley Lane, Kirkburton||N|
|Charles Kaye||Chapel Hill, Cowms, Lepton||N|
|James Priestley||Linthwaite||"opposite the church" (likely Alma Inn)||N|
|Jonathan Sandford||Burnlee, Upperthong||Y|
In support of Joseph Eastwood's application, it was noted that he had been "a guardian of the poor, collector of assessed taxes, and was now overseer" and that his house was "the only one that afforded suitable accommodation in a township of between 4,000 and 5,000 inhabitants". A petition signed by 102 "of the resident tradesmen" in support of Eastwood was also handed to the bench.
Joseph Oxley's application was deferred partly on the grounds that 11 other licensed houses could be found within 300 yards of his Old Hat beerhouse and that granting a licence to a cab proprietor would be highly unusual and might encourage others of the same profession to apply.
Richard Barker was a wine and spirit merchant of Market Place wished to be able to sell small amounts of alcohol for off-site consumption ("an arrangement often made in other towns") but it was felt "the applicant might slip through his contract, as had been done by other parties, and make his place a dram-shop."
It was stated that Jonathan Sandford had kept his beerhouse for 18 or 19 years and that there was no licensed house within half a mile.
At the adjourned session, the suspension of the licence for the Clothiers' Arms Inn (Kirkgate) was heard. Mr. Clough stated that the proprietors had succeeded in replacing Luke Swift with John Balderson, who had previously "been keeping a respectable hotel in Castlegate" (Smiths' Arms Inn). The bench renewed the licence.
Joseph Oxley's application was considered next. It was stated that the Old Hat had formerly been a fully licensed public house, but that the licence had been revoked "in consequence of the assembling of the Luddites there during the troubles of 1812." Since then, it had been a beerhouse. The application was opposed by the owner of the Acorn Inn (West Parade). After deliberation, the bench granted the application, with the chairman telling Mr. Oxley "he hoped the bench would never have occasion to find fault with the manner in which he conducted his house."
The final application to be considered was that of the Jesse Howarth (Jacob's Well Inn, Honley). It was claimed that Howarth had been "instrumental in defeating the ends of justice" by refusing to give evidence at a trail into corn robberies. The bench renewed the licence but "hoped [the temporary suspension] would be a lesson to the landlord in future."