Whisky After Hours


Screen Shot 2016-05-13 at 12.20.21At the Hamilton J.P. Court, on Monday 28th January 1929, a charge was made against Hugh McKenna, a publician residing at Uddingston for having sold exciseable liquor after 9 p.m. from his public bar in Blantyre.

Hugh was the landlord and owner of the Auchinraith Vaults at High Blantyre, which in more modern times we may know better as Matt’s Bar.

On the night in question, around 9.18pm, McKenna’s younger brother had been preparing to close the premises when he was disturbed by a woman knocking at the side door. She stated that she wanted some whisky for her neighbour who was seriously ill. Now, with the pubs closing at 9pm in Blantyre that decade and alcohol not being permitted to be sold after that time, passing the woman whiskey would be an illegal act.

After some deliberation McKenna gave the woman her whisky.  However, their actions were not being ignored. When she went outside two policemen accosted her. Quickly on being approached, the woman  stumbled towards an open doorway and threw the bottle of whisky inside. The constables, however, observed this action and regained the full bottle as evidence. The law places the breach on the publican, not the person buying it.

Hugh McKenna did not attend the court, but instead sent along an agent on his behalf. The agent had been instructed to plead guilty, McKenna obviously accepting in advance that he was going to have to pay some sort of fine. A fine was indeed imposed of 20s with an option of spending 10 days in prison instead. McKenna’s agent chose to pay the fine. Nobody knows what happened to the bottle of whisky, and i wonder if it was “kept in the police station” as confiscated evidence!

From “Blantyre Explained” by Paul Veverka (c) 2016

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