Bank Hall

The below is taken from The Whisky Distilleries of the United Kingdom by Alfred Barnard first published in 1887.

Bank Hall Distillery, Sandshills, Liverpool.

The next day, as arranged the previous evening, our party of three walked from the hotel to St. George’s Hall, one of the lions of Liverpool. It is a noble building, with a magnificent central hall, round which are ranged the law courts and municipal offices. After this we adjourned to the Walker Gallery, the munificent gift of a generous citizen, which contains priceless treasures of art, which we regretted that we had pot time to study. We then adjourned to the Athenæum, as one of our friends wished to unearth some information respecting the derivation of the name of Liverpool. The Athenæum, which consists of a library and reading-rooms, was opened in 1799, and was the first of its kind in the country, and gave rise to those of London, Manchester, and Bristol. The origin of the name of Liverpool is very obscure; some say it is derived from a species of liver-wort found on the sea shore-others, with more probability, ascribe it to the Welsh words Lle’r-pwll, signifying “the place on the pool.” The pool on the borders of which the original town stood occupied the site of the Custom House. Baxter supposes this to have been the port of the Sestantii, mentioned by Ptolemy, but this is doubtful, as it is generally supposed that the town did not even exist at the time of the Conquest. In the beginning of the sixteenth century, Leland gives this description of it: “Lyverpoole, a paved towne hath but a chapel, Walton at 4 miles off, not far from the se is paroche chirch”; and in 1571 the place is mentioned in a petition to Queen Elizabeth as “her majesty’s poor decayed town of Liverpool.” In this reign, however, a mole was formed to lay up the vessels in during the winter, and a quay for shipping. It was in the reign of William III. that Liverpool was made into a distinct parish from Walton-on-the-Hill, and since that time the town has grown into a great city, and the greatest port in the British Empire.

On leaving the Athenæum, we drove to the Bank Hall Establishment, distant from the hotel three miles. It is a modern work, built of stone, with a frontage to the main road of 450 feet, and covers five acres of ground. Owing to the close proximity of the public grain warehouses, it is not necessary to keep a large stock on the premises; nevertheless, the Company have devoted several floors of one of their large buildings to that purpose. The grain from the public warehouses is delivered by waggons to the Distillery, and raised to the various floors of the Corn Lofts and Mill buildings by a steam hoist.

On presenting our credentials, we were conducted, by one of the junior partners, over the establishment, and commenced our inspection at the Mill building, which is entered from the road, and consists of several floors. Part of the ground floor is appropriated to the ponderous grinding machinery, driven by an engine of 40-horse power; the remainder to the storage of maize in sacks. Before reaching the mill crushers, the grain is passed through a “Joggler,” which effectually cleans and separates from it all dirt and foreign matter.

The floor above is supported by strong iron columns, and contains thereon four pairs of stones, a Roller Mill, a Disintegrator and other machinery. From this floor the grist is screwed away direct into the Mash or Brewing House. Returning to the road, we entered the Distillery through a pair of gates, and found ourselves in a quadrangular court, round which the various buildings are erected. On the left are the general offices, and on the same side the Mash and two Still Houses; facing us is the Engine and Boiler House, and on the right the Inland Revenue Office, and then comes the Methylated Spirit House and Spirit Store. Following the pulverized grain, we mounted a staircase to the Grist Lofts, where several workmen were busy filling the meal from the Screw Hopper into bags and placing them ready for use. Vescending by another way, we found ourselves in the Mash House, a lofty apartment, 150 feet square, which contains five Mash Tuns. No. 1 is 26 feet in diameter and 9 feet deep, and will hold 30,000 gallons; No. 2, which is 22 feet in diameter and 8½ feet deep, holds 25,000 gallons, with stirring rakes driven by steam power; No. 3 holds 2,600 gallons, and Nos. 4 and 5 each 10,000 gallons. Passing through a doorway, we found ourselves in another Mash House of almost similar dimensions, wherein is placed the Corn Tun, which holds 22,000 gallons. There are two Underbacks connected with the Tuns, holding together 7,000 gallons, and close by three Worts Receivers, so placed as to form the roof of the Back Loft.

Following our guide, we came to the No. 1 Back Loft, 84 feet by 45 feet floored with iron plates, which contains six Washbacks, each of 30,000 gallons content, and two others, each 17,000 gallons content. Descending a few steps, we reached the No. 2 Back Loft, a smaller apartment, containing two Washbacks, each of 30,000 gallons content, and afterwards crossed the passage to the No. 3 Back Loft, which contains other two Backs, each holding 35,000 gallons. On leaving this department, we were taken to the Refrigerator Room, where there are three patent Condensers, each machine consisting of copper plates, V shape, and of eight divisions, through which steam and water run in alternate frames; there are also three of Miller’s Refrigerators. But to return to the process; the wash runs by gravitation into a Wash Charger, constructed of slate, placed under the No. 1 Back Loft, which contains 27,000 gallons. From this vessel the wash flows into an intermediate Charger of similar capacity under the Stills, from whence it is easily pumped into the latter vessels. We next visited the Still House, a lofty building of neat elevation, where are to be seen two of Coffey’s Patent Stills; these handsome machines are each capable of condensing and working 4,000 gallons of wash per hour. Besides these, there are two handsome Pot Stills - a Wash Still, containing 4,000 gallons, and a Spirit Still, 2,600 gallons, for the manufacture of Malt Whisky. In close proximity are the usual vessels and Receivers connected with the Patent Stills, except the two Spirit Refrigerators, which are placed on iron columns outside. We next entered the Safe Room, which contains, beside the Safe, two Spirit Receivers, holding 5,500 gallons and 3,200 gallons respectively, also a Feints Receiver, of 1,200 gallons content. At the south corner of this room there is a tank for distilled water, lined with white enamelled brick, and conveniently placed for reducing purposes. On returning to the quadrangle, we inspected the Engine Department, which contains, besides the engine referred to (which drives the Mill) a 30-horse power engine, various sets of three-throw and other pumps, and four of Galloway’s patent double steam boilers, each fitted with Henderson’s patent stoker.

Progressing a few yards, we entered the Spirit Store, a handsome and spacious building, wherein are three Vats, each with a capacity of 3,745, 5,054 and 4,833 respectively. In close proximity, but in no way connected with the Store, is the Methylated Spirit House, where methyl is added to the pure spirit for manufacturing purposes. At an elevation in the open we observed the large water-tank, which is supplied from the Waterworks Company, which holds 35,000 gallons, and over our heads a continuous screw, 280 feet long, which conveys the grist to the Mash House. Having completed our tour of the establishment on the south side of the road, we crossed a bridge, which is suspended from one floor to the other over the public way, and found ourselves in the Maltings and Stores. These buildings stand on the site of what was once the favourite seaside residence of the ancestors of the present Lord Derby, and close by the spot where formerly stood the bathing house from which the noble lords were wont to take their “headers.” They consist of a noble block, seven stories high, each floor measuring 120 feet by 80 feet. Three of them are used for Malting Floors, laid with tiles, contiguous to which are two splendid Kilns, each of which is capable of drying 120 quarters at one time. We passed through several of the other floors by a spiral staircase, and from the top obtained a grand view of the river, extending on the right to beyond the Fort at New Brighton, and the left Eastham.

We next bent our steps to the Vatting Store, which is the length of the whole building, and contains five Vats, each of 12,500 gallons content, and a small one, 1,400 gallons. The sub-basement and basement of this building form two large Bonded Warehouses, each 140 feet square. Through a doorway we passed into the Cooperage, quite a manufactory, where ten persons are contantly employed and from thence to the Blacksmiths’ Shop, where all the smith’s work of the firm is done. Emerging from this place, we found ourselves in the courtyard, which runs along the back of the Maltings, the end of which overlooks a deep cutting of the London and North-Western Railway. At the bottom is situated “Preston’s Siding,” constructed for the firm at the expense of the company. At the top of a solid granite wall, there is fixed a powerful hydraulic crane, which raises 30 cwt. of coal at a time, or lowers down a dozen casks of spirits.

Ninety men are employed on the works, and the make of the Distillery is called “British Plain Spirit,” Grain Whisky, and Malt Whisky, the largest proportion being Plain Spirit, and the annual output is 1,500,000 gallons.

The Managing Directors are Robert Wheeler Preston and Richard Percy Preston.