Petrol, Garages and the Pattern of Distribution

  • Kenneth Richardson

Abstract

Petrol was discovered almost by accident, as part of the great rush forward in hydrocarbon technology which took place in the latter part of the nineteenth century. Long before, in Mesopotamia, Palestine and elsewhere, a traditional body of local knowledge had been built up concerning oil seepages and the mysterious black deposits which were to be found on or near the surface in those regions. Babylonians had made from them a bitumen which could be used for bonding and cement. Greeks in Alexandria had studied them, producing a weapon of war which was later to be known as Greek Fire. They, and the Arabs later, had worked out a process of distillation which produced small quantities of highly valuable aromatics, illuminants and medicinal oils. As part of this process, which involved boiling and subsequent condensation, certain light volatile fractions were first given off. This spirit was in fact petrol but, until the coming of the internal combustion engine, to men who were busily looking for something else it seemed to have no obvious practical value.1

Keywords

Benzole Shipping Hydrocarbon Marketing Diesel 

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Notes

  1. 2.
    Butt, John, ‘Technical Change and the Growth of the British Shale Oil Industry (1680–1870)’, Economic History Review, 1965, p. 518.Google Scholar
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    Nixon, St John C., The Antique Automobile, Cassell, 1956, pp. 11–18.Google Scholar
  3. 9.
    Tugendhat, Christopher, Oil, Eyre amp; Spottiswoode, 1968, pp. 34–6; and Henriques, Robert, Marcus Samuel, Barrie amp; Rockliff, 1960, passim.Google Scholar
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    Keir, David, The Bowring Story, The Bodley Head, 1962, passim.Google Scholar
  5. 24.
    Hoffert, E. H., and Claxton, G., Motor Benzole, Its F. oduction and Use National Benzole Association, 1931, p. 50, table XV.Google Scholar
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    Young, Edward, Forty rears of Motoring, 1919–59, Stanley Paul, 1959, passim.Google Scholar
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    See Davison, G. S. (ed.), ‘TT Tales’, The T.T. Special, Birmingham, 1950, pp. 98–9.Google Scholar
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    See Jarrott, Charles, Ten rears of Motors and Motor Racing, G. T. Foulis, 4th ed., 1956.Google Scholar
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    Robertson, Bruce, ‘Whitehead Aircraft’, Air Pictorial, Nov. 1965, p. 388.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kenneth Richardson 1977

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kenneth Richardson
    • 1
  1. 1.Lanchester PolytechnicCoventryUK

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