Barrel Taps…

What is a Spigot ?

A Spigot is the correct name for a barrel tap, which as the two part name suggests “barrel” which this spigot fits into & “tap” which like any tap, acts as a valve that controls the flow of liquid from a container, many of these barrel taps are found in the fields or on the side of fields and would consist of two-piece’s, the actual barrel tap, and a key… with the key being the part that is lost more often, due to its size, 100_0075 (10) the receptacle we are talking about here is either a beer or cider barrel, mostly in my neck of the woods it would be beer barrels that were commonly found out in the fields at harvest time even up to the early 1960s these barrels with there taps in place could be found at harvest festivals held in rural churches, the taps & their keys are mostly made from copper-alloy although the early barrel taps would have been made from wood, and even today the principle of operating them has not changed, & allows the owner or a person in authority to manage who has the beer & when, an ideal answer when out in the fields with hot and thirsty men…
Whoever was in charge of the barrels would also be in charge of the keys, a key was a vital part of the barrel tap, as this allowed whoever held the key to dispense the beer, at a chosen time, & stop temptation by the workers to help themselves to the liquid content, it also meant full barrels could be left on the side of a field, or under an old oak tree, covered up with hessian to keep cool & out of the glare of the sun, without anyone siphoning out the contents… If you imagine your kitchen tap, without a permanent handle, and you had to pop one on every time you wanted to turn it on, except the handles for barrel taps are commonly known as keys, which comes in all shapes and sizes, and with different shaped hollow ends to fit over the spigot valve post, (- spigot valve post is shown below left, & are the male -) with the keys being produced in various shapes & sizes, & are the female…many of these keys are found damaged in one way or another, either bent or broken, as are the barrel taps themselves…

100_0032 (4)
spigot valve with a triangle-shaped post, to accept a key with the same design
100_0021 (3)
barrel tap key with a hollow triangle-shaped end
100_0069 (3)
the spigot valve, with a key attached
100_0034 (5)
spigot valve with a key fitted

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