Rokewood beer boycott

From Hotels of Ballarat

The Rokewood beer boycott occurred early in 1902.

History[edit | edit source]

On 25 January 1902, large group of local Rokewood men wanted the price of beer reduced. After a meeting they formed a committee and organized a boycott of all hotels in a 10 mile radius of the town where the publicans did not reduce the price. This was reported nationally in the newspapers:

PUBLICANS BOYCOTTED. ROKEWOOD. Tuesday. On Saturday night an open air meeting was held in the main street for the purpose of concerting means to induce the local hotelkeepers to reduce the price of beer from 6d. to 3d. A deputation was appointed to wait on the publicans. Mr. Stanhuts (should be Stanbrook), of the Rokewood Hotel, declined to be dictated to, and said he would charge what price he thought fit. Mr. Radcliff (should be Ratcliffe), of the Commercial Hotel, also refused to reduce his price, as trade was dull. Two deputations resorted to two meetings, and it was decided to "strike," and not to drink any beer at the present price. Feeling ran very high, and one person seen drinking beer on Saturday was called a "scab" and "blackleg." The boycott is for ten miles round.[1]

BEERY BOYCOTTERS A BEER strike is in progress at Rokewood (Vic.) in consequence of the refusal of thr local hotelkeepers to reduce the prices from 6d to 4d per pint and 3d per glass. This determination was arrived at a meeting held in the open air on Saturday night. A secretary was appointed to take the names of the strikers, and from 40 to 50 were enrolled, each of whom did without his Saturday night beer. A second meeting will be held to-day.[2]

The Beer-Drinkers of Rokewood. A curious struggle is now going on at the mining township of Rokewood. It is a contest be tween the appetite and the pocket. The publicans of that place have been, accustomed to demand the enormous sum of sixpence for a quart of beer—it appears that the men of Rokewood drink beer by the quart. And there is every reason, that they should, especially in these dry days. They find that the consumption of quarts of beer at sixpence apiece makes a big hole in their earnings, and consequently being thrifty as well as thirsty, they have resolved to abstain from drinking beer until the price per quart be reduced to fourpence. This astounding reduction does not meet with approval by the local bonifaces. They point to the shocking state of the roads over which their hogs heads travel, the exorbitant demands of carriers for freight, and the heavy sums that the " best managed railway system in the world " make them pay in addition. The beer-drinkers stand firm, or as firm as a beer-drinker should stand, and have consequently gone on strike. It is impossible to foretell the far-reaching effect of this self-denial. Will the wives and children of the strikers benefit by it? Will there be a noticeable diminution in the violent assaults, midnight brawls? Can it be prophesied that the boycott will destroy the taste for malt liquor around Rokewood? Will the public-house go and with it the gaol, the policeman, the lawyer, the doctor and similar other necessary evils of civilization? Politicians may take note of the effect of prices on morals, and counteracting effect of morals on trade. No beer drinking means fewer public-houses and no breweries, with all the trades dependent thereon. This is the other side of the picture. "Down with the cursed drink," may be a very fine cry, but it means down with the revenue as well. It may also mean a land tax or increased income tax, and a variety .of other taxes now undreamt of by the wildest socialists.It is questionable whether some Liberal Government should not introduce a law compelling people to pay six pence a quart for beer, just to keep up the price of barmaids' salaries, if for nothing else; or compelling publicans to sell it for fourpence for the benefit of brewers' employees. The reader may smile at this suggestion, but is it any more unreasonable than many of the absurdities that have been perpetrated by the Wages' Boards under the Factories - Acts? Meanwhile our teetotal friends may rejoice at the beer-boycott of Rokewood, while forgetting all the consequential evils it may entail—chief amongst which is the loss of employment for; their growing-up, sons. The the imagined paradise for the working man thus rapidly be the sort of paradise that Adam and Eve departed from; thereby leaving it without out inhabitants. The rise and progress, the decline and fall, of Rokewood should be viewed with interest by the Government statist and private philosopher, to see what mighty [?] may be produced from such a simple-looking of business us a dispute over the price of a glass of beer.[3]

Further research has not yet discovered the outcome of the boycott - did the publicans bring down the price?

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1902 'PUBLICANS BOYCOTTED.', The Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 - 1954), 29 January, p. 8. , viewed 18 Mar 2018,
  2. 1902 'BEERY BOYCOTTERS.', Singleton Argus (NSW : 1880 - 1954), 1 February, p. 3. , viewed 18 Mar 2018,
  3. 1902 'The Beer-Drinkers of Rokewood.', Table Talk (Melbourne, Vic. : 1885 - 1939), 6 February, p. 2. , viewed 18 Mar 2018,