PORLOCK APPLE PRESS
About Our Old 'Somerset Pattern' Press
Derek Purvis, a Porlock resident, local historian and curator of 'The Boat Shed Museum' at Porlock Weir, is responsible for bringing this old apple press to Porlock. In 2009 was offered the chance to take away and restore the old press from a farm on the Somerset levels (another historically famous apple growing area of the county). It had not been used for several decades and was going to be disposed of, on a big bonfire!
Derek brought it back to Porlock, and assisted by a gang of friends the press was cleaned up, parts repaired and replaced as necessary until the next problem - where to put it! Most farms in the Vale of Porlock had a press of some sorts once, but to our knowledge none remain. It was hoped that somewhere could be found where the press would be accessable as an attraction, and to highlight the fact that apple growing and cider making was an important part of the local economy in years gone by.
An approach was made to Porlock Parish Council. The old village school (now the Visitor Centre, Library, The Lovelace Centre and the Parish Council office), is owned by the council and has a lovely orchard garden to the rear which is a public space. The council kindly agreed that the old press could be installed, complementing the space and providing a lovely centrepiece. Planning permission was obtained to build the oak-framed open-sided barn which now protects the press from the elements, as we can see today.
More to come...
Porlock Vale Orchards...
WE ARE LUCKY...
Several of the old local orchards do survive to this day, but are not maintained for commercial cropping.
The National Trust owns a lot of land in the Porlock Vale area (formerly The Holnicote Estate, bequeathed by the Ackland family). The orchards of the now tenanted farms are not in use for any commercial purpose, but are the source of the majority of apples we use to demonstrate the old press in action. The good news is that there are some new orchards being planted by private landowners, not for commercial reasons, but to continue the historical link to the area. We help with the management of some new orchards, saving the old traditions and way of life.