St James's Gate: a brief history


1759: Arthur Guinness signs a 9,000-year lease on a disused brewery at St James's Gate, Dublin for an annual rent of £45. The brewery covers four acres and consists of a mill, two malthouses, stabling for twelve horses and a loft to hold 200 tons of hay.

1775: Guinness is forced to defend his water rights - agreed in the 1759 lease - from Dublin Corporation which wants to cut off and fill in the course from which the brewery draws its (free) supplies.

1790s: The brewery undergoes its first major expansion. Present day vathouses one and two are completed.

1801: "West Indies Porter" is brewed at St James's Gate for the first time. This is a stronger blend of porter, brewed to withstand the long sea journeys to foreign markets. The new brew requires a long period of storage prior to racking, leading to the expansion of the St James's Gate vathouses.

1833: James's Gate becomes Ireland's largest brewery, surpassing its closest rival, Beamish in Cork. Control passes to Arthur Guinness II.

1873: Under Edward Cecil Guinness, the size of the site doubles, spreading north of James's Street to bound the Liffey. This new area has a cooperage, a racking shed, a maltings, an internal railway system and a new vathouse. Until now, the brewery was located south of James's Street.

1886: Guinness is officially the biggest brewery in the world with an annual production of 1.2 million barrels.

1906: The workforce exceeds 3,200; some 10,000 are directly dependent on the brewery for their livelihood - one in thirty of Dublin's population.

1930: St James's Gate prints 1.8 million labels a day; if placed end-to-end, over a year they would stretch 24,000 miles - long enough to circumnavigate the earth.

1963: The last wooden keg is racked at the brewery. From this date onwards, only metal kegs are used.

1988: The Guinness hopstore is restored and converted into a visitors' centre.

2000: The brewery storehouse is developed, reopening as Guinness Storehouse. It quickly becomes one of Dublin's most popular - and lucrative - tourist attractions.