Clubs were taking over from pubs

WAS pub life on the way out in 1980?

Local publicans were worried that it was, with the spiralling cost of drink and the increasing number of clubs.

Over the previous ten years the number of pubs had fallen while the club scene was flourishing.

Five pubs had closed while the numbers of clubs had more than doubled from six to 13.

At the time the price of a pint in a local pub was 48p while a half’un was 50p.

Club prices however were lower.

“If you are going out with wives and girlfriends in a party then it is much cheaper to go to a club,” said one person.

In somewhere like Glenavon Social Club a drink was as much as 7p to 8p cheaper.

Mr Hugh News, the proprietor of the Criterion Bar in Edward Street for 25 years, had seen the number of clubs growing but believed there was a place for the public house.

“There has been a change of habits over the past ten years,” he said. “But I think we have come to live with both the club and the pub.”

But he also pointed out that pubs and clubs were not competing on an equal basis.

“The clubs can open earlier in the morning and can also open on a Sunday,” he said.

One local barman described the trade in his pub: “We might as well be closed earlier in the week for all the trade we do. All our business is on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.”

While pubs had to increase their prices clubs could manage to keep them lower and groups and discos were laid on to provide a more attractive night out.

And more price rises were expected in the next budget.

“When that happens it looks as if the only way to have a cheap night’s drinking is to get a carry out or brew your own,” said one drinker.