Rose, Cuthbert (b.1907) (part 4)
Cider-maker Cuthbert Rose of Cocklake, Wedmore recalls the local cooper, Teddy Thomas, who made and repaired the barrels used during cider-making.
Cider making on Cuthbert Rose's Farm, Cocklake, Wedmore. Cider making on Cuthbert Rose's Farm, Cocklake, Wedmore.
Sound File
Listen to Cuthbert Rose (part 4) - 1.66MB Duration 3:37 min.

CR: Course, years ago, there was invariably one or more coopers in business in the locality. Here, in Wedmore, we relied on an old cooper from Cheddar – old Teddy Thomas. He was a wonderful old man. He was ninety odd, ninety-five or something when he died. And he was a wonderful character. He used to – if we washed out, sometimes perhaps we washed out a dozen barrels or so and we dried them all out an’ they’re all ready to head up.


Well then we’d get in touch with Teddy and say “Well, we got a dozen barrels, can you come and head them up for us?” coughs. And he’d come out, he used to cycle, at one period he had a motorcycle. But invariably he’d cycle. Right at the end of his days he reached a stage when we used to have to go and fetch him because he was a very old man then. But he’d come out with his little bag of tools. And despite the fact that he was only a little man, he had that knack of being able to handle barrels. Big barrels which normally you would think would take a fairly heavy man to handle. But he had just that knack of being able to get them in the right position. And he put the heads in.


He come over perhaps he’d be there all day. Very often he’d bring over a bit of dinner with him. But if, more than often we’d say, “Well have a bit of dinner with us”. And he come over and perhaps work all day putting the heads in some barrels. Making a few defects right. Perhaps he wouldn’t finish that day, he’d come out again finish off the next day. And then you might have another barrel where perhaps the stave itself had…had cracked in the middle. And it wasn’t a job he could do it here on the farm. So, we used to have to take the barrel over to his workshop in Cheddar. And then he’d make a new stave for it.


And he was a wonderful man with barrels. And not only was he wonderful, he was old-fashioned. He was old-fashioned in his prices. For instance sometimes you’d say to him: “Well now Mr Thomas, let’s have a square up with you. You came over and headed up one or two barrels back a month ago and there was that barrel you …you put a new stave in, so and so, and there was that one where the bottom had gone and you put a new bottom in it.” And then he’d say, “Ah well.” And he’d get out a …a little, dirty little old notebook and he’d look in it and he’d say: “Ah see there was eleven barrels added up on the 17th of the 7th and there was a bottom of a barrel put in on the 8th of the 9th and a stave repair … yes, well, shall we say seven and sixpence?”


And they say he was an old-fashioned, good old-fashioned craftsman. He had old-fashioned ways, old-fashioned prices. And it was one of, he was one of nature’s gentlemen and of course these old types are gone. So, if he got a barrel now with the barrel, the bottom of the barrels distorted, warped or something, we can’t use it, I’m afraid we’ve just got to scrap the barrel. Whereas years ago of course, he would’ve put that barrel right.

Copyright Information
Copyright. This recording was made by Philippa Legg in July 1983. Photograph ©SMES. For access to full interview please contact the Somerset Heritage Centre.