Rose, Cuthbert (b.1907) (part 3)

Cuthbert Rose produced cider on his farm in Cocklake, a hamlet near Wedmore, until his death in the 1990s. The type of cider produced depends on the variety of apples used, the weather, and the cider-maker’s personal recipe.


Kingston Black, Yarlington Mill, The Dunkerton Late Sweet, Morgan Sweets and Stoke Red are all varieties of apples grown in Somerset. Some apples are sweeter, while others have high acidity; cider-makers blend these different types of apples together to achieve unique types of cider - usually sweet, medium or dry.

Two men pressing the ‘cheese’, early twentieth century. Two men pressing the ‘cheese’, early twentieth century.
Sound File
Listen to Cuthbert Rose (part 3) - 1.59MB Duration 3:27 min.

CR: Well of course the orchards around this locality, the cider orchards, are the old traditional orchards. There haven’t been many new ones planted in recent years. As far as cider is concerned, of course, you can make cider of any sort of apple.


To make good cider you really want a combination of a sugar content, an acid content and a tannin content. Roughly the apples fall into four categories. You have got your sweets, bitter sweets, sharps and bitter sharps. It’s only by a combination of these apples that you get the right cider, which is pleasurable to the palate and has the traditional taste. If you have too high an acid content you have a sharp acid-y cider. Too high a sugar content you tend to get a sickly cider.


As far as varieties are concerned, in many of our old orchards, here, we couldn’t even put a name to a lot of the sorts. We know them by old names such as ‘hangdowns’, ‘moonshines’, ‘sheepnoses’, that sort of thing. Whether they were ever given those names originally I wouldn’t know. By and large we know that one particular orchard will make excellent cider, another not quite so good, perhaps a little bit on the sharper side. So by using the apples from one orchard to another, which we know from experience, we can make satisfactory cider.


I’ve already mentioned once we have got the apples down at the farm where the presses are, then when we have got sufficient for a cheese, which is roughly thirty hundredweight to two ton, then we shall start making up at a time when it suits ourselves. We usually make our cheeses in the evening because we generally get help from local neighbours.


You really want about at least six people to make it easy going – one dealing with the bags of apples, cutting the string, filling the bushel basket, pouring the apples out into the bushel basket. You have someone else who lifts that basket up and keeps the mill fed. The mill of course crushes them. Then you want someone with a shovel at the mill to shovel the crushed apple, the pomace, out onto the bed of the press. Then you want one, preferably two chaps, building the cheese so they can arrange each lissom or layer of apple pomace on the bed with a layer of straw, reed as we call it.

Copyright Information
Copyright. This recording was made by Philippa Legg in 1984. Photograph ©SMES. For access to full interview please contact the Somerset Heritage Centre.