From the Archive: The History of Guinness Uniforms

A core part of the story of Guinness has always been the people behind every pour. The employees at the Guinness Brewery form a large part of the living history of the brand and their stories fill the archives. We’ve taken a deep dive into the archives to explore one of the important aspects of their working life: their uniforms and who supplied them.

Who supplied the Uniforms to the Guinness Brewery?

Many threads still tie the historic Guinness Brewery with the Dublin of today. One of these is the former supplier of the Guinness Brewery uniforms. With several trades requiring uniforms tailored to the demands of their day-to-day tasks, the contract to create these uniforms was a lucrative one. Over 100 years ago, a memo from the Guinness Archive shows that this was awarded to John Ireland & Son based at Ellis Quay, today the parent company of Native Denims. One of the main uniform suppliers to a number of leading industries across Dublin city, this expertise made them a good fit for the Guinness brewery who required a diverse order and range of custom-made outfits.

What Trades Required Uniforms?

It may be surprising to hear that most of the labouring staff at the Guinness Brewery didn’t require a uniform. However, employees who operated in and around the city, or needed to be identified quickly and easily, did. Here’s a rundown of who wore what in the historic Guinness Brewery:

● Brewery Draymen: The brewery draymen were responsible for delivering Guinness Stout in and around Dublin using the iconic Guinness horses and carts. As they were open to the elements, Guinness issued a uniform annually to each drayman. This uniform consisted of three pairs of boots, an overcoat, and a pair of leggings. Every second year they were also given a new waterproof cape to contend with the Dublin rainfall (no easy feat!).

● Brewery Messengers: the brewery messengers (aged between 14 and 18), delivered items and ran errands around the brewery and city. All messenger boys were issued with boots, caps, trousers, and jackets with brass buttons. Keeping up a certain standard of dress was extremely important for representatives of the Guinness Company and because of this, messenger boys were subjected to regular inspections by senior staff. There were also messengers over the age of 21 employed by the brewery who were issued with a maroon-coloured wool coat.

● Brewery Police: The brewery policemen were responsible for the safety and security of the Guinness premises and plant. They would patrol the area to prevent pillaging from Brewery vessels, and often acted as assistants to the fire brigade when necessary. These policemen were supplied with their own signature uniform which would have been made of heavy wool with the Guinness harp insignia emblazoned on the buttons.

● Other professions essential to the smooth day-to-day operation of the Brewery such as Railway workers, Catering staff, Firemen and Gate Security Officers were also known for having worn uniforms.

The uniforms supplied by John & Son Ireland are one of the many historical links to the present within the overall story of Guinness. Tracing this history provides a fascinating insight into the history of the brewery by taking a closer look at the people at the heart of it all.

Seamstress working on a denim piece

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