First published 21/2/2022 – This was our first article for the Knowledgebase!

The Nightender must have been one of the oddest machines ever produced by Barber Weston – assuming that it was anything more than made in site-test quantities . This machine was presumably designed to fulfil a perceived ‘grey area’ in Irish licencing law, presumably that during ‘drinking up time’ a drink served by a machine was still being legally consumed within licenced premises but the bar remained closed… Unfortunately, according to the Come Here To Me blog which focuses on Dublin life and culture, they were swiftly outlawed within mere days of installation c.1971!

The front and back of the machine – note the requirement for mains power, and curiously, the mention of the key as part of the instructions. Also mentioned in the blog was the fact that many of the machines ended up overseas – and indeed the one above (set at 30p vend) was recently sold in the US at an auction site;

And again, here’s one in an Irish theme bar in the USA. And clearly, not the same one, as like the one in the blog that’s shown at the Irish Whiskey Museum, that’s also set to a much more reasonable 20p.

Presumably using some sort of cam based timer to lever the optic, these machines required electric power to operate, and I suspect the key aspect served two purposes; firstly to stop it being used in-hours and and secondly so it could be disabled just in case the local constabulary fancied a quick inspection of the premises. And lastly, I suspect that by making it part of the instructions, it could be claimed in court that a key (or more importantly, a responsible person with a key) was required each and every vend to check the hours and purchaser were legally compliant, honest guv’nor. None of this worked as we’ve established.

The Irish theme bar displays this sign, and I’ve absolutely no reason to doubt it was designed in Ireland – but I can only assume that Barber Weston didn’t set up an overseas branch to manufacture one model of machine, and it must have been manufactured here in Weston-super-Mare. It is strange though, as my findings so far can’t find many machines like this using wooden cabinets from Barber Weston. I wonder if whoever commissioned this machine had first approached more ‘pub orientated’ vending companies? Although, of course, Barber Weston did also churn out the odd metal cased cigarette machine.