Clocks, Pubs and Time Travel

Here is an interesting piece of trivia – and it’s nothing to do with beer tap installation or anything similar!

Did you know that many pubs had clocks which were deliberately set 10 or 15 minutes fast?

Drinking up time

The law and practices varied a little depending on where you were in Australia but the basic principles here were copied from the UK way back.

The problem was, as we have said in another blog, after 1916 pubs were forced to close in Australia at 6.00 PM.

That though introduced some ambiguity in terms of a number of different concepts:

  • The time an establishment had to stop serving alcohol;
  • How long people could be allowed to stay in the pub drinking up the alcohol they had already purchased prior to the last sale;
  • The time the establishment’s doors had to be closed with nobody else being admitted and the time those inside had to have departed.

Although in many cases the police were very relaxed on the enforcement of such fine points of detail, they also sometimes made a point of being VERY particular and pub owners or landlords needed to make sure that they didn’t transgress.

Playing with time

The “last orders please” cry was never a popular one in the typical pub.  Sometimes it could be controversial and lead to disputes about who was in the queue first and why somebody else got served and you didn’t before the fateful hour.

Then, somebody came up with the idea of running bar hours by a master clock on the wall.  Not very imaginative you might think but the clever bit was to make sure there were no disputes and to give themselves a margin of error should a zealous “copper” arrive on the scene, those clocks were often set 10-15 minutes fast.

So things might stop at 6:00 PM but in fact it was only 5:50 or thereabouts!

Time travel

It seems questionable whether this really fooled anybody but at least it gave a yardstick nobody could argue with.

It could also have resulted in a comic situation where someone entered the pub for a quick drink and left it spot on pub time at 6.00 PM, only to find that they’d arrived outside before they’d left the pub!

It all sounds very comic and ludicrous now but at the time these things were taken seriously. It’s nice to talk about these days with a little affection but they are probably best off in in the past.

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