Sabbath tipple breaks Welsh drought

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The Independent Online
The weather was unseasonally dry in Wales yesterday but for the first time in more than a century, the whole Principality was wet, because every pub was open for Sunday drinking.

Last Wednesday's referendum lifted the ban in Dwyfor, the last bastion of the shuttered Sabbath, by a majority of at least 2-1.

Customers queued early outside the Coach Inn, at the seaside village of Clynnog Fawr, near Caernarfon. Overnight, landlord Steven Williams decorated it with bunting and unfurled a flag saying: "We Are Open on Sunday". At noon his son and daughter cut a red ribbon. The first drink was on the house, and Mr Williams was delighted: "It's good to have come into the 20th century".

At the Anchorage Inn, at Abersoch, landlady Tracy Jones said: "Sunday opening will make a big difference when the village is packed with holidaymakers in the summer."

Robert Cooke, a regular, agreed. "It's good to have cleared up this business, which saw people having to turn away on a Sunday". Gareth Hughes, a barman at the Golden Fleece, in Tremadog, is one of many pub staff welcoming the change. "In many pubs, part-timers work on a rota. The chance to help out on Sundays will put a bit more cash into our pockets," he said. Brian Jones, a farmer, who was enjoying a pre-lunch drink, declared: "Locals like myself appreciate this - and there's no doubt that tourists will too."

Yesterday marked the end of a long battle by the Seven-Day Opening Council to bring week-long opening across Wales.

Since 1961, when districts were legally entitled to hold referendums at seven-yearly intervals, the "wet" movement has advanced.

And last week's poll ended the anomaly which confused visitors and affected the takings in "dry" areas.

David Baird-Murray, a Llandrindod Wells hotelier, who chairs the council, was relieved: "It's been about the public's freedom of choice. At last common sense has prevailed." The Reverend Iwan Llewelyn Jones, a leader of the "dry" campaign, was regretful but resigned: "It's bitterly disappointing to see something special like Sunday disappearing for good."