The Licensing Registers

To celebrate 50 years of Dundee City Archives, we have been asking our volunteers and researchers what their favourite documents are. Each month we will be sharing one document in a blog post. These and other documents will be available to view in our searchroom display. The display will change throughout the year to make sure we can display as many favourite documents as possible.

This month Pat Leslie tells us about her favourite document from the Archives. Pat has been volunteering at Dundee City Archives for over 8 years. She has been working on an index to licensing registers of Dundee Town Council and its successors. As Pat has such a connection with these records, they are her favourites. The registers record hotels, public houses, licensed grocers, restaurants and places of entertainment. Here she tells us a bit more about the documents and why she find them interesting:

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The Register of Applicants for Publicans Certificates, 1880-1902

I started with the licensing registers from 1880. At this time public houses and licensed grocers were family businesses. As the ledgers progress into the 1960s, 70s and 80s the family entries become less. By the late 1970s and early 1980s licence holders were larger groups and companies: Betts Inn, Peter Dominic, Allied Brewers, who were taking over the family owned public houses and licensed grocers. By the 1980s the entertainment ‘Disco’ had arrived. Tiffany, Barracuda, Rich’s Disco to name a few. The decline of the cinema meant that they became for venues bingo, social clubs and casinos.

The special time for me was whilst checking for information in the Dundee Directories I found ancestors living here in the 1880s and early 1900s. Before this time I thought my family hadn’t left Ireland till the 1920s. The name of the family was Edward Roche had owned a grocer shop in Whorterbank Lochee in 1886. Another Edward Roche had a fish shop in the Hiltown. I have since found out the Roche family originally came from Normandy, and came to the British Isles as early as the twelfth century.

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1898 Dundee Directory showing Pat’s ancestor Edward Roche in Dundee

Dundee City Archives hold many different types of licensing registers. This includes:

  • Registers of Publican Certificates (1880-1976)
  • Register of Certificates of Table Beer (1877-1915)
  • Transfer of Liquor Licences (1867-1942)

There are also licences for Hackney Carriage Drivers, Dancing, Theatres, Gunpowder Stores, Cowkeepers and Dairymen, Street Traders, Gaming Licences, Ice Cream Makers, Performing Animals, Chimneysweeps and much more.

At some point in the future Pat’s index of licences will be available to the public. In the mean time if you would like to visit the searchroom view the index or the original registers, please get in touch.

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