Keys to the Past


Distillery; Distilling

A chemical process where a liquid or tar-like mixture of chemical compounds is heated up. This causes the lighter, or those with a lower boiling point, to be evaporated first to rise through tubing as a gas. Since the curling tubing, (called a worm), was cold the compounds cool and return to being a liquid, which can be taken away. If the heating is just right a pure liquid can be obtained. Places were this was carried out are called distilleries.

Illegal distilleries were set up to produce alcohol in secluded spots. This was because customs dues were high. This was done in stills in Upper Coquetdale, Northumberland, from the 1780s-1870s. Coal tars were extracted from the making of coke, whilst large stills where to separate the whale blubber in ports, like Berwick upon Tweed and Newcastle, noted for their involvement in the Arctic whaling trade. (A Berwick street is called Oil Mill Lane - possibly where distilling took place).

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