Sweetman & Co

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Sweetman & Co, Francis Court Brewery, 20/22 Francis Street, Dublin, Ireland.

Established 1755.

Acquired by Casey's Drogheda Brewery Ltd. in 1890.

Closed 1895. See also S.R.Conron & Co, Hornchurch, London.

From the Brewery History Society Journal Number 91

Sweetman was a name synonymous with brewing in Dublin.

In 1730 there were five separate breweries in the hands of this family. They were great porter brewers with local and export markets and traded until 1895 when the Francis Street brewery closed.

From: The Breweries and Distilleries in Dublin

In 1761 the Sweetman family had six brewing sites around Dublin including Henry sweetman’s brewery in James’s street. The business consolidated at a site on Francis Street where brewing continued to 1891. The Iveagh Trust established by the Guinness family in 1900 constructed the red brick Iveagh market on the site of the Sweetman’s brewery purchased by the Trust as part of their urban developments in the area. There is a plan to convert the market to a food hall with a micro brewery. The Sweetman family were prominent in the brewing business in Dublin since the 1700s and by 1750 were producing 800 barrels per week at six different sites. They were associated by marriage with other the Lawless and Clinch brewing families.

Sweetman advertised Irish porter in 1780. The brewery originally was at St Stephen’s Green part of the current Iveagh House site. Branches also existed in Burgh Quay and Abbey Street. The name lives on in the Sweetman’s brewpub at Burgh Quay which was formerly Messers Maguire.

The serious slump after the continental wars brought about a depression in trade and prosperity and by the early 1820s the brewers appear to have been in trouble forcing a price reduction on porter. Ten years later the price had increased and Sweetman’s were competing on price, this time working alone. On 19-11-1823 brewers advertised that at a meeting of the porter brewers held at the Corn Exchange on 6-11-1823 they resolved to reduce the wholesale price of porter by seven percent provided the retail price was reduced to three pence a quart. This price fixing agreement which sounds so anti-competitive in current trade was signed by James Byrne, William & Charles Conlan, Connollys & Somers, Colclough, Nicholson & Co, John D’Arcy & Co., A.B. and W.L. Guinness & Co., Manders & Powell, Michael Sweetman & Co., Watkins & McNulty. On 2-12-1831 Patrick and John Sweetman at their Francis court brewery advertised a reduction in the price of their porter to 36/6pence per Hogshead and 23/2 pence per barrel to enable it meet a retail price of 3 ½ pence per quart. Sweetman’s advertised that their double x in 1837 was kept for 12 months maturation. In the 1890s Sweetman advertised that they matured their stout for six months. Advertisements mention this maturation step in connection with early London porter as well.

The Wide Streets commissioners acquired the Sweetman premises at 92 Lower Abbey Street to open Eden Quay to the Custom house. On 3-12-1812 they auctioned the equipment and building materials. The equipment consisted of two coppers, two coolers, a large sky cooler sheeted with lead, a mill, kieve, upperback, vats, leaden pipes and brass cocks, troughs and pumps. This sale is peculiar in that the entire brewery was abandoned to the wide street commissioners and its equipment was not moved to a new site by the Sweetmans. The next year the wide street commissioners struck again at another Sweetman premises on the opposite bank of the Liffey. On 20-4-1813 they called a jury to value premises on the east side of Hawkins street numbers 14-19and the north side of Poolbeg street numbers 1-8. A separate site 116-118 on the north side of Lower Abbey Street was also to be valued with a view to acquisition. However the end came when an auction was advertised on 12-5-1891 selling the plant and equipment at 20-25 Francis Street. This seems to have been a sudden sale as a large quantity of old vatted stout was for sale along with the equipment indicating that they did not sell through their stocks. The porter plant consisted of three large coppers, two mash tuns, fermenting tuns with attemperating coils, condensing beam engine, Lancashire double flued boiler. There was also an ale plant consisting of mash tun, boiling copper and six fermenting vessels along with a quantity of miscellaneous equipment.

Entry in the Trade Mark Registry

Registration No  : 90,431
Description  : Pony & trap
Date of Application  : 14/6/1889
Used Prior to 1875?  : NO