The Licensed City: Regulating drink in Liverpool, 1830-1920 by David Beckingham
In nineteenth-century Britain few cities could rival Liverpool for recorded drunkenness. Civic pride at Liverpool's imperial influence was undercut by anxieties about social problems that could all be connected to alcohol, from sectarian unrest and prostitution in the city's streets to child neglect and excess mortality in its slums. These dangers, heightened in Liverpool by the apparent connections between the drink trade and the city's civic elite, marked urban living and made alcohol a pressing political issue. As a temperance movement emerged to tackle the dangers of drink, campaigners challenged policy makers to re-imagine the acceptable reach of government. While national leaders often failed to agree on what was practically and philosophically palatable, social reformers in Liverpool focused on the system that licensed the sale of drink in the city's pubs and beerhouses. By reforming licensing, they would later boast, Liverpool had tackled its reputation as the drunkenness capital of England. The Licensed City reveals just how battles over booze have made the modern city. As such, it confronts whether licensing is equipped to regulate today's problem drinking.