PORLOCK APPLE PRESS
Somerset History Being Maintained
We're keeping the Somerset Cider making tradition alive with every PINT WE PRESS!
Grant Dennis Derek Purvis Brian Pike Geoff Cawthorne
assisted by our many friends...
'Porlock Apple Press Group'
Our aim is to ensure the historical art, and means, to produce the apple juice, and the cider making skills, are retained here in West Somerset, at the Exmoor village of Porlock. Cider was an important feature of the rural farming economy. Most farms had orchards and presses. As described in the previous panel on this page, prior to the wholesale mechanisation of agriculture, labourers got paid in cider, foodstuffs, and coin of the realm. This practice was common right up to the start of WW2 (although outlawed by act of parliament in the 1880's!). So to compliment the apple press, our aim is to build a historical collection of working agricultural implements and rural artefacts to add to the experience.
What we have provided is an asset for the Porlock Community. In bringing and providing this feature to Porlock, there has been absolutely no cost, or demand on local, or grant funds. We have done this only for the benefit of Porlock and surrounding villages and communities. We have not received any grants or subsidies from anyone. What is provided is the result of this very small number of enthusiasts time, and their very great effort.
We are really very grateful for the donations made in support of our efforts to maintain this old press and ancillary equipment.
A BIT OF BACKGROUND INFORMATION...
Porlock and the surrounding Vale is the low lying northern and coastal area of Exmoor. The area is protected from the prevailing south-west winds by the hills of Exmoor, and is recognised as having a very much more favourable climate than the higher moor. The coastal marsh area between Porlock and the Bristol Channel is fertile agricultural land that grew prize winning Barley back in the early 20th century. Some of the silverware can be seen at West Somerset Rural Life Museum & Victorian School, Allerford, and at Dovery Manor Museum, Porlock. The local micro-climate was, and still is attributed as being the reason for the high quality crops. It is also exactly the sort of climate which is ideal for growing the humble apple. Porlock and the Porlock Vale were noted apple growing areas, and there were many, many orchards. Evidence of the favoured climate in the Porlock Vale can be observed by the recordings made by Porlock Weather Station
WHY SO MANY ORCHARDS?
Back in the days before the mechanisation of agriculture, farmers needed lots of labourers to carry out the everyday work of the land. This was even more pronounced at busy times of the year such as lambing, planting and harvesting. To attract the travelling casual labourers, the farmer would have to offer incentives in order to get the numbers required for the task. Apart from coin of the realm in payment, food and CIDER would be part of the deal. The farmer who could make the best cider, and offer plenty of it, would generally have an easier time of getting the labour needed! Some records show that up to two gallons of cider a day were part of the remuneration package - how any work got done, goodness knows!
Almost all farms in the Porlock Vale area would have had apple orchards, apple presses, and the means to produce cider. These farms would also sell their product to the farmers on the upland areas of Exmoor where it is near impossible to grow apple trees. Apple growing and cider making was a very important part of the rural economy back then.