In this article, we will share an Irish brewer, Arthur Guinness: the history of Guinness beer and brewery.
Guinness beer is the pride of Ireland. Born about three hundred years ago, it has sunk into the hearts of local citizens, becoming one of their favorite drinks. The history of the Guinness brand is also the story of one of the most famous books in the world. Yes, the famous Guinness World Records book is directly related to the beer brand and we are going to tell you about it.
The beginning of Guinness history
A history of Guinness began in a small Irish village Celbridge, which was the home of Arthur Price, the Church of Ireland Archbishop of Cashel with sufficient security. Arthur was one of those people who did not want to burden himself with a daily routine, and therefore he had hired Arthur Guinness (1724 or 1725 – January 23, 1803), a manager for all the cases. As time passed, a very real friendship ensued between them to the point that Price baptized Arthur’s son Arthur Guinness II, born on March 12, 1768, who helped his father since childhood on the farm of the generous employer.
In his spare time, Arthur Guinness brewed real ale. Dr. Price had a benefit of all necessary equipment at his basement for this. In 1752, Arthur Price died. It was such a tragic event, but it marked the beginning of the Guinness brewing company’s story. The thing is that Arthur Price left a legacy of 100 pounds to both of them: Arthur Guinness and his son (at the time it was quite a large sum of money).
The first venture of Arthur Guinness was a small factory for ale brewing, which he rented in Leixlip, a town in north-east County Kildare, Ireland. Arthur asked Richard, his younger brother, to help him to conduct the business. And business has gone so well that three years later, Arthur decided to move to Dublin to open a brewery. In 1759, in the southwest of the city, he found an old dilapidated brewery, named St. James’s Gate Brewery, which he agreed to lease for just £45 a year for almost endless time – 9,000 years. 34-year-old Guinness did not miss this opportunity and rented the factory. Of course, he had to make tremendous efforts to bring it to order. But the game was worth the candle.
In 1761, Arthur Guinness married Olivia Whitmore in St. Mary’s Church in Dublin. They had 21 children, and 10 of them lived to adulthood.
Since 1764 the family lived at Beaumont House, which Arthur had built on a farm of 51 acres. Now it’s the estate of Beaumont Convalescent Home, behind the main part of Beaumont Hospital, between Raheny and Santry in north County Dublin.
However, all this time, Arthur continued to produce the same ale. Arthur Guinness started producing the dark beer only in 1799. The production of the dark beer with creamy foam originated in 1799 that further made the company one of the symbols of Ireland. Four years later, after this momentous event, at the age of 78, Arthur Guinness died. As a legacy to their children, businessman left £25,000, which by today’s standards would amount to about £865,000.
The Guinness Dynasty
After the father’s death, the business was managed by three of his sons: Arthur II, Benjamin, and William. Of course, the company was led by Arthur II, 35, as since childhood he helped his father in growing of his dream and he knew it’s all ins and outs. The company’s sales were approximately 809,000 gallons of beer a year — impressive, but it was only the beginning. By all achievements, Arthur II surpassed his father. Statistics says that during the management of his son, annual sales were growing by at least 10%. Of course, there were some problems when Napoleon started the war in Europe. The war led to an economic crisis and a slight decline in sales, but it did not cause serious problems to the Guinness Company.
Arthur had been leading the company for almost half a century and was able to bring it’s annual sales of 4 million gallons of beer per year. This is not to say that Arthur Guinness II was occupied only with the company. It is known that above all he was an Irish bank manager, a member of the country’s farmers and also the President of Dublin Chamber of Commerce. He was a multi-faceted personality who managed to succeed in completely different areas of business life. Arthur Guinness II died on June 9, 1855, in Dublin, Ireland. And if to convert the amount of Arthur’s II monetary status by modern standards it would exceed £9 million.
Benjamin Lee (November 01, 1798 – May 19, 1868) took sole control of the company. He was born in Dublin and was the third son of Arthur Guinness II and his wife Anne Lee and a grandson of the founder of the Guinness brewery – Arthur Guinness. He had been leading Guinness brewery business for 13 years. During this time he managed not only to boost Guinness’ sales seriously but also to become the mayor of Dublin in 1851. In 1967, his contributions were assessed by the Government, which awarded Guinness with the title of Baronet. And when the Sir Benjamin Lee Guinness, 1st Baronet died, his fortune was estimated at £65 million by today’s standards. The dynasty continued to prosper and move up the social ladder.
After Benjamin’s death, Guinness was headed by another member of the famous family, Edward Cecil (November 10, 1847 – October 7, 1927). Edward was born in Clontarf, Dublin. He graduated from Trinity College Dublin with Bachelor of Arts in 1870.
Edward Cecil Guinness was chief executive at the Guinness brewery up until 1889. Later he became the chairman of the board, managing the largest brewery business on the globe on 64 acres (260,000 square meters).
By the end of 1886, he managed to become a multi-millionaire, by floating two-thirds of the Guinness Company on the London Stock Exchange for £6 million before he retired. Perhaps the most important event for the company during the management of Edward Cecil was that the company finally went public. Of course, a majority of the shares remained in the hands of the family.
A descendant of Edward Cecil was remembered that during his management at the company, it started to advertise it’s beer. Times changed, and then in order to maintain high sales, the Guinness Company had to be felt to consumers. There is a second point of view why Guinness had been actively advertising it’s beer in those times: There was a severe crisis in the British economy, which decreased consumption and to increase sales they had to launch a broad advertising campaign.
However, that might be that Rupert Guinness, 2nd Earl of Iveagh (March 29, 1874 – September 14, 1967), was the last one of the dynasty of Guinness, who was seriously engaged in the company by playing a really essential role in it. It was during Rupert’s management that the Guinness World Records published.
After the Second World War, the Guinness Company was led only by outsourced managers. Members of the dynasty moved from direct management of the company. Fortunately, it had no effect on quality.
In 1967, the Chairman of the Board was still one of the representatives of the family, Benjamin Guinness, but his health was quite poor, and therefore he completely left the company in 1986, giving all the reins to Ernest Walter Saunders (born October 21, 1935). He was known as one of the “Guinness Four,” a group of entrepreneurs who tried fraudulently to operate the share price of the Guinness business. Ernest Walter was condemned to five years’ imprisonment. Ten months after he was released as he was believed to be suffering from incurable Alzheimer’s disease. Though subsequently, he made a full recovery. Of course, the company’s business was not always rosy. However, Guinness was cleverly solving them out as it was still producing one of the highest quality brewing drinks of the Old World.
Guinness advertising story
There was a pelican portrayed on the first advertising Guinness poster, who was doing his best to hold a pint of beer on his beak. This was followed by an even more successful series of posters with a depicted ostrich, with the stuck pint of beer in the throat. It was an interesting advertising move. The company emphasized that the essence of the advertising message was very simple. It turns out that even ostrich understands how valuable the beer of Guinness is and that is why he managed to swallow a cup so that no one else could drink it. This hard job was done by a well-known artist of the time – John Gilroy, who explained the meaning of the art print.
But perhaps the most famous work of John Gilroy was a Guinness poster on which a man was carrying a quite heavy bench. Those days of one the slogans of the company was: «Guinness – for strength». As soon as the posters began to appear in different bars of the country, many customers when ordering the Guinness beer, required to bring them a similar bench so that they could show their strength. Well, it was quite a brilliant advertising idea!
However, Guinness gradually broaden their advertising campaign to popular at the time, magazines and newspapers, which required a completely different approach. The audience there was more educated, and therefore the company decided to use classic literature in advertisements. Namely, to create a real travesty of popular poetry of Lewis Carroll, John Keats, Edward Lear, Geoffrey Chaucer, Henry Longfellow, and many others. The campaign had tremendous success.
In addition, Guinness launched an advertising campaign aimed at young people, placing their ads in numerous academic journals. It was the right move, which brought them a lot of new fans.
Guinness book of records
Now it’s the time to talk about the famous Guinness Book of Records, which today is known by all, young and old. Legend has it that the idea of it’s creation came to a managing director Sir Hugh Beaver (1890 – 1967) when one day he looked in a bar. During a conversation with friends, he told them a story of how he had been on the hunt and had not been able to shoot a golden plover. One of the Beaver’s friends said that this bird was the fastest in the world, and Hugh could not catch it even if he really wanted to. His statement was objected by a friend of him who assured that the plover was not the fastest bird.
It was then that it dawned on Hugh Beaver that all over the globe there were thousands of disputes like that that take place in such small gatherings over a pint of beer. He decided that he should create a book that would contain evidence of formal records in various fields. Soon, Hugh Beaver talked with one of the major news agencies, based in London. During the meeting, Beaver and his new companions concluded that the release of such a book could be a very right way, which would bring them a good income.
And there was a Guinness World Records, which quickly became the best-selling book in the world (of course, not counting the Bible).
The present days of Guinness
Today, Guinness is one of the largest European beer brands. In Ireland, Guinness is a special drink that is respected by all people of this country. Not long ago, the company said that they intended to restore the first Guinness brewery, which was leased by the company’s founder to 9,000 years. Now the plant is not in the best condition. In addition, the company acquired the very first brewery of Arthur Guinness, which is located in the town of Leixlip. Perhaps a return to the roots will only bring benefits to the Guinness Company.
I hope you liked the biography of Arthur Guinness?
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