The Model county is known for many things, but being the birthplace of the Guinness World Records often gets overlooked…
Everybody at some point in their lives has seen a copy of the Guinness World Records. Chock-full with bizarre facts, fascinating stories and interesting titbits, the Guinness World Records is the absolute go-to guide for all things record-breaking.
What may surprise some, however, is how the book first came to be; and more importantly, where it came to be. The Guinness World Records in fact originated in none other than Wexford’s very own, Castlebridge.
The story begins with a South African-born English man named Sir Hugh Beaver. Born in Johannesburg in 1890, Sir Hugh was educated at Wellington College in Berkshire before embarking on a two year stint as a police officer in India. Following this, he returned to England and began working at an engineering firm.
In 1946, Sir Hugh assumed the role of managing director of the Guinness brewery. Five years later, Beaver planned a shooting party in the North Slob in County Wexford. It was there on the banks of the River Slaney that the seeds for the idea of the Guinness World Records would be planted.
While on the shooting party, Sir Hugh became involved in a debate with his fellow hunters after he missed a shot at a golden plover bird. The debate ensued when they couldn’t agree on whether the fastest game bird in Europe was the golden plover or the red grouse. In case you were wondering, it is in fact the golden plover.
After their day out at the North Slob, the group retired to Castlebridge House where the debate raged on. After discovering that they were unable to find an answer to their burning question, Sir Hugh had an epiphany.
He realised that similar debates must crop up every night in pubs across the country and abroad. He then theorized that a book could be made with the sole purpose of settling such debates, and that such a book could prove very popular.
Thus, in Castlebridge House in 1951, the idea for the now world famous Guinness World Records was born.
Sir Hugh would not give up on his idea and later sought help from Norris and Ross McWhirter with compiling this new fact-finding book. At the time, the twin brothers had been running a fact-finding service in London and were recommended to Sir Hugh by Guinness employee, Christopher Chataway.
The brothers were commissioned to write this book in 1954, and in the following year, the very first 198-page edition of the Guinness World Records, known then as the Guinness Book of Records, was bound and sold.
It became an instant hit and a Christmas bestseller. In 1956, it launched in the United States and sold 70,000 copies.
Seventy years after Sir Hugh’ debate and subsequent realization in Castlebridge House, the Guinness World Records continues to be a smash hit. It has become a worldwide phenomenon, selling over 100 million copies in 100 different countries and 37 languages.
It has even found its way into its own book, holding the record for being the world’s best-selling copyrighted book of all time.
As for the locale where this brilliant idea came to pass, Castlebridge House is now up for sale with an asking price of 2.5 million. The beautiful building, also known as Alma House, was historically occupied by the Nunn family, with Joshua Nunn II being among those present at the house when Sir Hugh came up with his golden idea.
At this point, it is unclear what the future holds for the house and its new owners. However, the minds behind the Guinness World Records have not forgotten Castlebridge’s place in their story.
Both Diageo and the Pattinson Group, companies that hold the rights to the Guinness World Records, have expressed interest in renovating Castlebridge House and transforming it into a tourist attraction.
Locals have also embraced the connection, hosting a Castlebridge Record Makers Family Fun Festival in 2019. The festival succeeded in its dual goal of celebrating Castlebridge’s significance to the Guinness World Record story and providing a fun day out for local families.
No matter what the future holds for Castlebridge House, it would appear that neither Wexford nor the Guinness World Records will be forgetting this special connection any time soon.
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