Guinness Brewery Narrow Gauge Railway – 8 miles long | Season 1 – Episode 52
Wheels Feb 16, 2022
In 1759 Arthur Guinness signed a 9,000-year lease on a brewery at St James’s Gate, Dublin.
By 1873 the size of the site was doubled, this new expansion divided the Brewery in two, creating an ‘upper’ level and a ‘lower’ level. However, it became more and more difficult to move materials around the much larger site with horse-power alone.
The Company’s solution in 1874 was to task the Brewery’s newly appointed Engineer-in-Chief, Samuel Geoghegan (1845 – 1928) to construct a railway. In designing the railway, two difficulties had to be overcome. Firstly, the track needed to be narrow enough to navigate through the Brewery, but a connection was still needed to the broad gauge track in the nearby Heuston Station.
The solution was to lay two different types of track – a 22” narrow gauge system for working within the Brewery, and a 5ft 3in broad gauge to link to Heuston Station. Secondly, there was the problem of how to link the track between the ‘upper’ and ‘lower’ levels – with a height difference of 50 feet.
In 1875, to bring the locomotives from the upper to the lower level Samuel Geoghegan built a spiral tunnel underneath St. James’s Street with a radius of 61ft 3” and turning 2.5 revolutions to cope with the difference in height.
Samuel Geoghegan then set about designing the perfect Guinness narrow gauge engine with the sensitive components of the locomotive mounted far above the ground and protected from dirt. His design was an 0−4−0 side tank locomotive engine with horizontally mounted cylinders situated above the boiler driving through a crankshaft and vertical connecting rods, which in turn drove the wheels. This design allowed for ease of access for maintenance, sensitive components protected and a narrow gauge locomotive.
The first Geoghegan engine, the ‘No. 6’, was built by Avonside Engine Company in 1882, another seventeen were manufactured between 1887 and 1921 by William Spence at the Cork Street Foundry. Today Geoghegan engine No. 17 and a Planet diesel engine No. 47 are both on display at Guinness Storehouse. No. 13 – Narrow Gauge Railway Museum, Wales No. 23 – Amberley Working Museum, West Sussex.
Engine No. 22 – Cavan & Leitrim Railway, Leitrim, given on permanent loan by Robert Guinness. This Geoghegan engine is currently in the planning stage to return to steam, requiring new connecting rods and a boiler and when completed No. 22 will be the only Geoghegan engine in steam anywhere in the world.
In 1997 the Guinness Storehouse opened as the Brewery’s visitor centre. Built in 1902 the Storehouse was the first multi-storey steel-framed building to be constructed in the British Isles. The interactive displays explain the history of beer including ingredients, brewing, cooperage, advertising, sponsorship and the history of transporting Guinness across the world. On display are the Geoghegan and Planet narrow gauge engines.
Credit: Images courtesy of Guinness Archive, Diageo Ireland
Credit: Cavan & Leitrim Railway
Credit: Graces Guide: Geoghegan Locomotives, Revd Roger Farnworth
Thanks to: Eibhlin Colgan, Archive Manager at Guinness Storehouse, Diageo Ireland
Photos & video: Ireland Made®
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