Licensing Laws Prior to 2005Licensing laws were first passed in response to the 'Gin Epidemic' in the 18th century (see related article: 'The History of the Pub').
Initially, laws required simply that a responsible person be made the 'licensee' of a pub, in order to overlook the establishment and ensure that drunkenness and debauchery did not prevail.
From the 19th to early 20th century licensing hours were gradually imposed, with blanket restrictions being applied throughout the U.K. during World War One (The Defence of the Realm Act, 1914).
These restrictions stipulated that a pub could only open between 12pm and 2:40pm, and 6:30pm to 9:30pm. These laws served to hamper soldiers and munitions workers from get overly merry, thus enhancing their working performance, and contributing to the war effort.
These laws were relaxed over recent years, allowing pubs to remain open until 11pm from Monday to Saturday, and 10:30pm on a Sunday.
Extensions to these licensing laws were granted, in exceptional cases to some pubs and nightclubs, and on bank holidays to a wider selection of pubs.
Or here at History:
An attempt to ‘reduce public drunkenness’ prompted the licensing laws of the 1800s. Further restrictions, including the watering down of beer and an afternoon gap in opening hours, made up part of 1914’s Defence of the Realm Act, amid fears that heavy drinking would hamper the impending war effort. Indeed, these fears were not wholly unjustified – it was the horrors of World War I that saw alcohol become a major social and moral issue.