History of Guinness
With a company history spanning from 1759 – where else would you come to learn about the history of GUINNESS® - other than the home of the black stuff. Arthur Guinness and the founding of the Brewery. Arthur Guinness was born in 1725 near Dublin in the town of Celbridge, county Kildare where his father, Richard Guinness, was a Land Steward.
Part of Richard's duties were to supervise the brewing of beer for the workers on the estate and it is probable that young Arthur first learnt the art of brewing from his father. The brewing industry in Dublin at that date was suffering because English beer was taxed less severely than the home-produced product. Arthur was not, however, deterred. He decided to acquire what was then a small, disused and ill-equipped brewery at St James's Gate.
The lease, signed on 31 December 1759, was for 9000 years at an annual rent of £45. To start with, Arthur brewed ale, but by the 1770s a new drink, a strong black beer called porter, was being exported from London. Arthur decided to brew this new beer himself. He proved extremely successful and right into his seventies Arthur continued to be active in supervising his business at the Brewery, now assisted by three of his sons. Arthur had married an heiress, Olivia Whitmore, and had 21 children, 10 of whom survived into adulthood.
When he died in 1803, he left a considerable personal fortune of about £23,000 and an extremely flourishing business which later generations of his family were to develop, following the example of initiative and enterprise set by its founder.
The Guinness Archive, located on the Ground Mezzanine floor, collects, preserves and makes accessible records and artefacts from the formation of GUINNESS® to the present day. The holdings contain records dating from the 1759 lease, photographs, film, video, memorabilia, posters, maps, bottles and artefacts documenting the history of the GUINNESS® company, brand and products in Ireland.
So What Information Does The Archive Hold?
Over 7,500 linear metres of records
Copies of GUINNESS advertising from 1929 to the present day
The original 9000 year lease signed by Arthur Guinness on the St. James's Gate brewery
The oldest artefacts in the collection are barley grains from Tutankhamun's tomb - nearly 3,500 old
Thousands of people have worked for Guinness since 1759, playing their own part in the company's history. The Guinness Archive holds a large collection of employment records, dating between 1880 and 1960. Although incomplete, these records provide an insight into employment conditions.