English Trade Department’s Trade Papers

Repository: Guinness Archive

Identity Statement

TitleEnglish Trade Department's Trade Papers
Archive ReferenceIE GA/GDB/SA01.01
Web Link to this Entryhttps://iar.ie/archive/english-trade-departments-trade-papers
Creation Dates1928-1941
Level of DescriptionSub-sub_Fonds
Extent Medium54 Items + 4 Sub-series


Creator(s): Arthur Guinness Son & Company Limited

  • Administrative History ↴

    Arthur Guinness was born in Celbridge, County Kildare in 1725. It seems that Arthur first learnt the art of brewing from his father Richard, whose job as a land steward included brewing beer for workers on the estate of Dr. Arthur Price, later Archbishop of Cashel. In 1759, at the age of thirty four, Arthur Guinness signed a 9000-year lease for the St. James's Gate Brewery, Dublin, at an annual rent of £45. The Brewery was only four acres in size, disused, and had little brewing equipment. But in only ten years, despite competition from imported English beers, Arthur began to export his beer to England. Arthur began by brewing ale, and in the 1770s started brewing 'porter', a new type of dark English beer. Arthur's porter was so successful that in 1799 he stopped brewing ale. By the time Arthur died in 1803, he had built a successful brewing business, with a promising export trade. Arthur married Olivia Whitmore, and had twenty one children, ten of whom survived into adulthood. When he died, his son Arthur Guinness II took over the Brewery. In all, seven generations of the Guinness family were directly involved in the brewery management. Arthur Guinness II developed the business, expanding the export trade, and brewing a new beer 'Extra Superior Porter'. By the 1830s, St. James's Gate Brewery was the largest brewery in Ireland. In 1855 Arthur II's son, Benjamin Lee Guinness, took over. Under Benjamin, the first trade mark label for GUINNESS® stout was introduced in 1862. When Benjamin died in 1868, his son Edward Cecil took over. Under Edward's leadership the brewery became the largest in the world. In 1886 the business was floated on the London Stock Exchange and Edward became Chairman. By the end of the 19th century the brewery had grown to sixty acres, sales of GUINNESS® Stout were over 1.2 million barrels a year, and GUINNESS® Stout was available across the world. In the 20th century the Guinness family continued to lead the business. Edward Guinness died in 1927, and his son Rupert became Chairman. Rupert's grandson Benjamin became Chairman in 1962, and was the last member of the Guinness family to hold this position, which he resigned in 1986. In 1929, the first advertising campaign for GUINNESS® was launched. More product innovations took place including the launch of GUINNESS® Draught in 1959. GUINNESS® Draught in Can was launched in 1988 thanks to the 'widget' – a groundbreaking invention in beer packaging technology. From the 1940s to 1980s a major overhaul of brewing machinery took place, making the brewery one of the most technologically advanced in the world. In 1936 the first overseas GUINNESS® Brewery was opened. It proved successful and was followed by four more in Nigeria (1962), Malaysia (1965), Cameroon (1970), and Ghana (1971). Licences were also issued to brewers in other countries so that GUINNESS® could be brewed locally. By the end of the 20th century, GUINNESS® was brewed in over 40 countries, and sold in over 150. In 1997 Guinness Plc merged with Grand Metropolitan Plc in a £24 billion merger. A new company was formed called 'Diageo' Plc. Today, 10 million glasses of GUINNESS® are enjoyed daily around the world.
  • Archival History ↴

    The Guinness Archive was established in 1998 and at this time all historical papers relating to the Company were transferred to the Guinness Archive.
  • Immediate Source Acquisition ↴

    Official Transfer

Content & Structure

  • Scope & Content: Arthur Guinness Son & Company Limited ↴

    These are the surviving papers of the English Trade Department, created in connection with its trade transactions.
    The records of the English Trade Department, which were kept in file form, fall quite neatly into four distinct series of files. These series document their four principal areas of responsibility: Dublin Stout trade for Great Britain; Continental trade; Foreign trade; and fourthly the transfer of the English Trade Department to Park Royal Brewery and introduction of Park Royal Brewed beer into British market.
    The English Trade Department’s files document the making of transport arrangements and monitoring of the distribution network, to ensure supplies would reach the Brewery’s customers. Their files document the methods of transportation used, the frequency of shipments, and disruptions encountered such as strikes.
    The English Trade Department, in being responsible for supplies, maintained records on sales volumes, and compiled estimates of future sales from customers – these were particularly crucial for brewing operations as GUINNESS Foreign Extra Stout took some eighteen months to mature.
    The English Trade Department also had to record the stock levels held by Trade Stores to manage the volumes being supplied, as too many stocks could lead to the retention of GUINNESS beyond recommended lengths, which would affect the quality of GUINNESS in trade.
    The English Trade Department dealt directly with agents and bottlers for the Continental and Foreign markets on the matters of supply, and management of customer accounts. Through correspondence with customers, account status with individual customers was recorded, and negotiations on terms of trading were documented.
    The control of the quality of the product in trade was a particular concern for Guinness at this time, and the English Trade Department played a key role in monitoring quality. Their role is recorded through the instructions they disseminated to Trade Stores and Agents, drawn up by the Brewers, on handling and storing of GUINNESS.
    In the same way that the English Trade Department was a channel of communication through which the Brewery could reach its customers, so the customers could use the English Trade Department as a channel of communication to the Brewers. The English Trade Department papers record feedback given by trade customers on the quality of the product, and particularly details of complaints concerning individual consignments.
    In corresponding with Continental and Foreign agents and bottlers, to arrange supply for these markets, the English Trade Department acquired some information on Continental and Foreign market conditions, such as: consumer preferences; local drinking habits; comparison of GUINNESS with competitors products; condition of GUINNESS in trade; and consumers’ response to GUINNESS. This information was particularly important for the Brewery in developing sales strategies. Guinness had begun to employ their own ‘Travellers’ at the end of the nineteenth century, who reported on foreign market trade conditions. In the 1930s, these travellers were still too few in number to be able to provide comprehensive information on all markets and so Guinness was still reliant upon the information their customers could provide, to help compile a full picture of market trade conditions.
    The opening of the Park Royal Brewery in London in 1936, was a controversial matter. The Company needed to be sensitive to the response from the trade to Park Royal brewed GUINNESS. With these factors in mind, an elaborate plan to introduce Park Royal brewed GUINNESS into the British trade was devised, and the participation of the English Trade Department in Dublin, who had handled supply of the British market, was crucial in implementing the switch over. As these arrangements were made, the English Trade Department in Dublin were kept informed through correspondence and circulars.

  • Appraisal Destruction ↴

    Permanent Retention
  • Arrangement ↴

    The papers within the English Trade Department have been categorised as such because they were created by Staff within the English Trade Department in connection with their trade functions. As there were only a relatively small number of files, it has been possible to reconstruct the file series in which the files were originally created. There are four distinct series of files. These series document their four principal areas of responsibility: Dublin Stout trade for Great Britain; Continental trade; Foreign trade; and fourthly the transfer of the English Trade Department to Park Royal Brewery and introduction of Park Royal Brewed beer into British market. Within each Sub-series, files have been arranged chronologically so far as possible without dividing up Sub-sub-series of files covering the same topics.
    Within the descriptions of each file, where possible all existing file titles and series numbers were noted. When noting the names of the authors of the files, their position within the Brewery, where possible, was also noted in brackets following their names. Once named in a description an author is then referred to thereafter in that description by their last name. The Guinness Company, in its various forms, is referred to as the ‘Company’ and the St. James’s Gate Brewery as the ‘Brewery’.

Conditions of Access & Use

Access Conditions On application to the Guinness Archivist
Conditions Governing ReproductionAt the discretion of Guinness Archivist
Creation Dates1928-1941
Level of DescriptionSub-sub_Fonds
Extent Medium54 Items + 4 Sub-series
Material Language ScriptEnglish
Finding Aids Descriptive list Archive Web Link →

Allied Materials

There are no Allied Materials

Descriptive Control Area

Archivist NoteDeirdre McParland
Rules/ConventionsISAD(G): General International Standard Archival Description. 2nd ed. Ottawa: International Council on Archives, 2000.
Date of Descriptions05-Aug-10