Schools, hospitals and a black cab: the weirdest places to get a pint in Britain


As a school in Wolverhampton is granted a licence to serve alcohol until 11.30pm, we look at the other unlikely venues to legally raise a glass

In Wolverhampton, we do things a little differently. For example, we just spent £20,000 on a decorative granite bench from China for a new pedestrianised area, because, hey, what the heck? So when a local fee-paying school, Wolverhampton Grammar, applies for a licence to sell alcohol until 11.30pm, well, heck, we just give ’em that licence!

There has been some disquiet, but bosses have been understandably keen to spell out that they are not going to be holding lock-ins for the teachers every night, it’s just a measure so that they don’t have to keep applying for temporary licences for social evenings. But the fact is, Wolverhampton Grammar is just continuing a proud British tradition of bringing licenced booze into completely inappropriate locations.

A hospital

Serving alcohol in a hospital may seem like … well, doing something really unhealthy in a hospital, but that didn’t stop Basingstoke and North Hampshire hospital being granted a licence to sell booze in a private wing, seven days a week, between the hours of 10am and 10pm, in 2013. ”It sends out a mixed message,” said Labour councillor Jack Cousens – the message presumably being: “You’re in hospital. It’s 10am. Glass of shiraz?”

A church

It’s not uncommon for churches to be able to serve some manner of tipple (and not just on Sunday mornings), but none are so rock’n’roll as St James the Great church in Thorley, Hertfordshire, which responded to a noise abatement notice from authorities (it hosts functions in its hall) in November 2014 by applying for a late licence three months later. “It’s hell living here,” said a neighbour, which suggests the church isn’t doing its job very well.

A taxi

Pubs on buses are pretty commonplace, affording passengers the opportunity to sneer at Boris Johnson and drink on public transport. However, for a more intimate experience, head to the Tipple Taxi, a genuine cocktail bar in a black cab. Although presumably Uber will do one for less money.

A historically teetotal village

In some ways, this is the most unlikely entry on this list. The suburb of Bournville, near Birmingham, had been staunchly, constitutionally booze-free since 1900, according to the wishes of its founders, the staunchly prohibitive (apart from chocolate) Cadbury family. As of two weeks ago, though, it has a newsagent with a small off-licence section. “A travesty!” said alderman Nigel Dawkins, presumably as the village immediately degenerated into something out of Boardwalk Empire.

A shed

Technically, Steve Worrallo’s garden shed pub in Cannock is not licenced to sell alcohol, he can just give pints to his mates, but we had to include it because of this quote: “When I lost my house in the divorce, I definitely didn’t think I would ever live the dream and have this – I’d never have been able to do it if I was still married.” Too much pathos.

Powered by article was written by Pete Cashmore, for The Guardian on Monday 12th October 2015 16.16 Europe/London © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010