Joseph Watkins & Co

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The Dublin premises
Their entry in the Trade Mark Directory
Courtesy Edward Bourke. Demolition proceeding at the Dublin site but some elements are to be preserved
Courtesy Edward Bourke

Joseph Watkins & Co, 22 Ardee Street, Dublin, Ireland.

The oldest Dublin brewery, reputed to date back to 1536. Merged with Jameson, Pim & Co. Ltd 1905 to form Watkins, Jameson,Pim & Co. Ltd and brewing concentrated at Ardee Street.

Ceased 1937.

From the Brewery history Society Journal number 91

Watkins was reputed to be the oldest commercial brewery in Ireland, and dates back to 1536 when the monastery on this site was closed. They held leases that dated back to 1691. In the hands of Sir James Taylor this brewery was the largest in Ireland. Brewers of porter with markets in Dublin and Belfast plus an export trade, they were in business until 1937 when the brewery closed. Watkins sold it to the Darley family who in turn sold it on to the Maguire family.

From: The Breweries and Distilleries in Dublin

The Watkins brewery developed on the site of the brewhouse of the Abbey of St Thomas the Martyr which dates to 1215 when the monks were granted the land. Henry VIII dissolved the monastery and granted the lands to Sir William Brabazon in 1552. (3) Edward, his son, succeeded him and became Baron Brabazon of Ardee. The brewers leased the site from the Brabazon family. The monks were liable to pay excise duty on beer to the Mayor and Alderman of Dublin who sued the Abbott of St Thomas for duty in 1583 as recorded in the Patent and Close roll of Chancery. His grandson William became Earl of Meath in 1627 and was a major property developer in Dublin having six streets named after him (William Henry Brabazon Earl of Meath – there was an “of” Street between Henry Street and Moore Street). Alderman Taylor was brewing 300 barrels weekly there in the mid 1700s. At the end of the 1700s Sir James Taylor and Trevor brewed on the site which was the largest in Dublin. They paid £4,300 in excise three times that paid by Guinness.

The English brewers Richard and Joseph Watkins bought the brewery in the early 1800 from the Taylor family. On 10-1819 Richard and Joseph Watkins combined with Alderman Trevor of Ardee St to carry on business as Trevor & Watkins. Watkins finally traded as Watkins Jameson and Pim when the latter ceased brewing on their Anne Street site in 1906. While the dangers fire from spontaneous grain heating, grain drying and wort boiling were significant they paled into insignificance compared with the fire risk of the ether based cooling system. Bernard reports such a system in Watkins in the 1880s. Watkins ceased brewing in 1950 following a fire. The site of the brewery became more visible in the 1980s when Dublin Corporation built a new Coombe relief road through the adjoining properties and along the perimeter of the site. The brewery had been derelict for some 40 years at that time. The buildings on the Newmarket side became a sawmill and truck construction yard. The brewer’s house survives in good condition and an estate of 80 workers houses (Watkins Buildings) built in the 1880s fronts onto Ardee Street to the north of the site on the other side of the new road. Looking at the site from the north the remains of the grist headers are just visible on top of a red brick tower.

The whole site is to be redeveloped in 2018.

The brewery features in The Noted Breweries of Great Britain and Ireland by Alfred Barnard published 1890.

Joseph Watkins & Co, 22 Ardee Street, Bray, Ireland.

Brewed here between 1888 and 1899. A branch of Jameson, Pim & Co. Ltd., Dublin.

Entry in the Trade Mark Registry

Registration No  : 9,079
Description  : Shamrock leaf in circle
Date of Application  : 20/9/1876
Used Prior to 1875?  : NO

Registration No  : 285,305
Description  : Label designs
Date of Application  : 11/08/1906
Used Prior to 1875?  : NO

Registration No  : 285,306/7
Description  : Label designs
Date of Application  : 08/11/1906
Used Prior to 1875?  : NO