Today in history: End of the 'six o’clock swill'

A New Zealand pub before the end of six o'clock closing 50 years ago today. Photo: nzhistory.govt.nz
A New Zealand pub before the end of six o'clock closing 50 years ago today. Photo: nzhistory.govt.nz
On this day in 1967, fifty years ago today, the law requiring all pubs in New Zealand to close at six o’clock in the evening was finally abolished.

The change came after nearly 64% of voters in a referendum gave their preference for pubs to be permitted to remain open until ten o’clock.

Six o’clock closing had been introduced as a temporary measure during the World War 1, but temperance campaigners ensured the law became permanent.

An unintended consequence of the six o’clock law was that men would race to the pub straight after work and drink as much as they could, as quickly as they could, before closing time.

These ‘pubs’ were not the cosy, lounge-like, set-ups with comfortable furniture and fireplaces that one might find in the British countryside.

Instead they were halls without furniture, with sawdust on the floors, where tasteless draught beer was dispensed from high-pressure hoses.

This phenomenon became known as ‘the six o’clock swill’, and has been blamed for fostering a culture in New Zealand where many people still drink to get as drunk as they can, as quickly as they can.  

Today in history comes courtesy of the History O' The Day Facebook page.

Comments

Good drinking times...but PC says no no no