Old Photo, Old Lane, Old Tom

I must have taken this photograph of the Old Lane Inn, Halifax in the mid 1960s, by which time it had already closed (it briefly came back to life as Dicky Mints 20 years later). The monumental bottle of beer painted on the gable wall should have been listed and saved for posterity. The illustration is of a bottle of Green Label, but a bottle of Robinson’s Old Tom Ale might have been a more suitable illustration given the curious case of the 1937 Landlady of the pub, Bridget Tosh’s, trial for the heinous crime of allowing drinking after closing time. The case, according to a report in the Halifax Courier of 16th February 1937, proceeded as follows:-


To Help Ailing Customer to Sleep. 

After-hours Charges Dismissed. 

A defence that the beer in question was a bona-fide gat, was advanced at the Halifax Borough Court to-day (Mr. W. Harwood presiding), in a case in which Thomas Tosh, landlord of the Old Lane Inn, Halifax. was summoned for unlawfully supplying beer by agent, and aiding and abetting the unlawful consumption of beer. Bridget Tosh, his wife, with unlawfully supplying beer and aiding and abetting the unlawful consumption of beer; and Isabella Jobling. 1, Moxon-terrace, Halifax, with unlawfully consuming beer. Each defendant pleaded not guilty. Mr. Leonard Shepherd, who appeared for Thomas and Bridget Tosh, made a preliminary submission and said that there was a charge against Thomas Tosh for supplying by agent and against Bridget Tosh, for supplying. The prosecution could not have it both ways. If they elected to hold Thomas Total responsible for supplying by agent, then they had exhausted that charge and could not charge the agent with supplying. Mr. W. N. Curtis, on behalf of the prosecution, maintained that it would be proved that Bridget Tosh was actually responsible for the supplying of the liquor, but there remained the statutory offence against the landlord for supplying by his agent. The Bench overruled Mr. Shepherd’s objection. 


Mr. Curtis stated that at 10.35 p.m. on Friday, January 29th, Sergt. Revill and Constable Winterbottom paid a visit of inspection to the inn. They entered by the front door and, hearing the sound of women’s voices talking and laughing in a private room, they knocked and entered. They saw Jobling drinking from a glass containing a dark brown liquid and upon seeing the police she hurriedly consumed the contents of the glass. The sergeant smelled at the glass and said that it smelt like stout. The landlady, who was in the room, said It was not stout, but when asked what it was said “I gave it her. It is a drop of Old Tom.’ The landlord was fetched from the tap room. and said. “I know nothing about it” Mrs. Jobling said she entered the premises at 10.10 p.m. on business about a club. The three defendants were told they would be reported. Mrs. Tosh said. “Well. I gave it her because she has been in bed poorly.” Mrs. Jobling said, ‘1 have been poorly. I have been in bed three weeks.” Sergt. Revill and Constable Winterbottom gave evidence in corroboration. Mr. Shepherd, for the defence. submitted that Mrs. Jobling was a bonafide friend of the licensee’s wife and had not paid for the drink. 


The fact was that Mrs. Jobling had not been to the inn as a customer. She came to the inn to see Mrs. Tosh to pay her “pot club money” and to draw some money she had earned by doing charring work at the inn. This was done, and during conversation. Mrs. Jobling said she had been ill and could not sleep at night. Mrs. Tosh, “with characteristic Irish generosity” said “I will give you something that will make you sleep”, and gave her a bottle of “Old Tom”

Mrs. Tosh gave corroborative evidence and said that all the time the incidents were happening her husband was in the tap room. He was unaware of what was happening. Frances Smith, 7 Moxon-terrace, Halifax, said that she was at the inn from 9.25pm and was present when Mrs. Tosh gave Mrs Jobling the bottle of Old Tom “to make her sleep”. No payment was made for the drink. Mrs Jobling also declared that the beer was given to her by Mrs. Tosh and no payment was made. Cross-examined. are agreed that she was a regular customer at the house.  Evidence was also given by Thomas Tosh, and the daughter, Julia Tosh, who were in the room at the time.

The Bench, after retiring to consider the case, decided to dismiss all the summonses.

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