It’s our rich heritage of more than 200 years that has taught us how to be the welcoming hosts and successful brewers we are today.
BREWING BEER AND RUNNING PUBS SINCE 1799
We’ve been running pubs and brewing award-winning beer from our base in Bury St. Edmunds ever since the company was founded in 1799 by 19 year-old Benjamin Greene.
It’s no wonder we’ve got a few stories to tell! Flick through the picture gallery and explore our history for yourself.
Our history | 1799 - 1899
During its first 100 years, Greene King grows from the Greene’s Brewery, established in Bury St Edmunds by Benjamin Greene, to Greene, King and Sons, following an amalgamation with Frederick King’s St Edmunds brewery in 1887.
Benjamin Greene handed over the Greene’s Brewery to his son Edward in 1836. After founding the brewery, Benjamin went on to own cane sugar plantations in the West Indies where he was a slave owner. Even in the 1800s, his views on slavery were extremely unpopular and in the brewery’s home of Bury St Edmunds he wrote columns in his own newspaper that were critical of those campaigning for the abolition of slavery.
Following his father’s departure from the brewery, Edward Greene grew the business in Bury St Edmunds significantly to the point where he merged operations with business rival Frederick King and Greene King began to become more recognisable as the brewery that we see today.
Our history | 1900 - 1969
By the time the two World Wars have ended, Greene King had acquired Rayments Brewery and opened a new brew house, and by the 1960s a new bottling store had been built and head office was modernised. Greene King had become an established player in the brewing and pub industry.
Our history | 1970 - 1999
The century concludes with Greene King taking control of the Old Speckled Hen brand, which would go on to become Great Britain's number one premium ale brand.
Our history | 2000 - 2009
Greene King’s portfolio is increased further following a number of acquisitions. Much-loved brands including Old English Inns, Belhaven and Loch Fyne all become part of the Greene King family.
Our history | 2010 - Present
Greene King continues to go from strength to strength and is now the country’s leading pub retailer and brewer with over 3,100 pubs, restaurants and hotels across England, Wales and Scotland.
In a rarely visited part of our brewery’s vast cellars, we discovered a 75-year-old ale which never went on sale. We had brewed the beer to celebrate the coronation of Edward VIII – the king who was never crowned. We held it back, of course, when Edward abdicated to marry Wallis Simpson.
Long before the days before of mobile phones, email and Whatsapp, Greene King employees relied on good, old-fashioned pen and paper and trusty in-trays and out-trays. But a new technological innovation was brought to the office. In the form of a very primitive telephone, the metal mouthpiece and tube connected the boardroom all the way to the secretary’s office!
…AND SERVING THE COMMUNITY: THE WESTGATE FIRE BRIGADE
After a boardroom meeting in 1888, the Westgate Fire Brigade was formed to protect Greene King and sons against fires.
After 110 years the company’s proud history of serving the brewery and local community ended, but Greene King still supports the fire service with four employees who are on-call firefighters.