LOCK-INS, the party is over, time has been called.
Legislators will make the traditional pub lock-in redundant on Thursday when new opening hours come into force.
Under the new Licensing Act, premises can now apply to extend their opening hours beyond 11pm, allowing round-the-clock drinking and killing off the need for an after-hours get together.
Many pub lovers, for whom there were few more pleasurable drinking experiences than the illicit thrill of carrying on when others had been asked to be on their way, will rue the day.
For while 24-hour drinking will become widespread, the attraction for many was that lock-ins were secret, a conspiracy between publican and patron. Also, they were exclusive, usually with only a few select regulars.
It's a tradition that had been enjoyed by generations of drinkers, with even the likes of Prince Harry enjoying a few covert pints.
While publicans risked losing their licence by allowing them, police often turned a blind eye if things were kept low key.
They did crackdown when things started to get out of hand, with police recently finding 140 patrons enjoying an illegal after-hours drink in one County Londonderry pub they visited.
Friends may have foreseen the end when the government announced back in 2000 that it was considering the biggest overhaul of drinking laws for 90 years.
Licensing laws in England and Wales had changed little since 1915, when they were tightened to stop factory workers turning up drunk and harming the war effort.
While some said the shake-up was long overdue, lock-in regulars knew time would be called on their exclusive after-hours drinking club.
At 11.15pm every week after quiz night, our local landlady would say: "Let's have your glasses lads, or close the curtains and come on through to the back". Then we'd stumble out of the place at 3am through the back door, often left to serve our own ale and asked to "leave the money at the till". There was never any trouble. Having now lived in mainland Europe for five years, I realise just how ludicrous British licensing hours have been. Here, pubs close when they're empty - sometimes before 11pm, sometimes after. But that's the choice of a free society. Good riddance to the time bell!
Peter Sandbach, Basel, Switzerland
About time. After watching the news over the last few weeks I was expecting to be snowed in this morning and see drunks everywhere.
Surprise, surprise both never happened!
karl stone, wakefield
Probably the best drink in the world. RIP.
Peter Moreland, Nailsworth
Although I will miss the lock-in, I will now have a greater chioce of venues to drink in after 11pm. I can't see the new 24 hour licencing laws causing that much of a problem - anybody that wants to drink after 11pm has always been able to anyway, providing that they make a little effort and find a lock-in. And in all the years I have been attending lock-ins I have never ever seen an ounce of trouble.
Andy Woodvine, Bangor, UK
RIP the good old British Lock-in.
I remember one particular lock-in that I wasn't even aware I was privy to. Upon leaving the hostelry with others at the end of the session I announced "let's all go on to town and carry on drinking in a club" wherupon I was immediately dragged back to the reality of the old drinking laws by a more sober drinking friend who informed me that it was 4:30 in the morning.
Happy days indeed.
Phil owens, Liverpool
Good fun at the time but can get a chap into serious trouble with the missus.
Bert Priest, Kidderminster
Ye gods, you mean now if I want to down a few pints of Old Peculiar into the wee hours of the morning, I'm behaving legally? Where's the fun in that?
RIP lock-ins, thanks for the memories..."hic"
Oliver Reed Part Deux, UK
Oh how I miss the lock ins, rolling home at 4 or 5 after a night of philosophising and inadvertantly upsetting people. But it's not the law change wot done it in, it was me two nippers and their need for a sober dad come 6am in the morning.
Big Sul, Ex Brighton and the Mighty Sidewinder
But isn't (wasn't) it so much more "fun" when the 'afters' were a slightly illicit affair!! The cold hand of regulation strikes again to take the fun out of our lives.
Gerry Smith, Five Ashes, E. Sussex
How are we free denied the lock,
When the powers that be have freed the clock?
If shrill "last orders" are never heard
The joy of kinship is sadly deferred!
SIMON LANE, Warwick
I Live in Scotland, Long live the Lock In.
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