Making cider

Don Wheatcroft

Across the driveway from our house was a small stone built stable, in the loft of which our ladders were stored through the winter. Adjoining the stable were some wooden sheds. I have always understood that my Grandfather George Vinn at one time had a fish round which my father helped with, their motto being ”If you can’t sell it, give it away”. Generosity easily outweighed having left-over fish! The worktop the fish were prepared on was still in the shed next to the stable. I remember in the stable was a metal mesh shop sign that read Venn’s (not Vinn’s) and since those days I have always wondered about it. Had it come from the fish shop? Had it been somewhere else in the town? Was it in fact anything to do with our family? I wonder if there are any records of this?

I don’t remember either of the horses ever being in the stable, instead Father used it for storing cider made from all the ‘fallers’, both from his own trees and the apple crops he bought. These apples would be stored in sacks (sometimes already oozing juice) until Lewis Horne brought and set up his cider press. The fruit was first chopped up into a pulp, then spread out over coir matting layer upon layer.  After about six layers they would then be pressed by the hand operated press to extract the juice into buckets which we then poured into the barrels to ferment over the weeks. The barrels were ‘trammed’ (standing on raised wooden platforms) along the wall in the stable. Restrictions existed even then regulating the amount of cider which could be sold without a licence. Father always stayed well within this limit of four and a half gallons. We didn’t drink any of the cider, most of it was bought by two neighbours who lived opposite Yverdon. In another of the sheds Father used to store the coal. This was usually delivered by one of the coal merchants in the town, however once Father decided to drive down to the railway station to buy his own load of coal direct from one of the trucks. This may have saved him money, but understandably the coal merchants were not happy. He only ever did it the once!

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