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.
Cuthbert Rose of Cocklake, Wedmore produced traditional cider for most of the last century. In this recording Cuthbert Rose describes the mill he used to grind up the apples before they were pressed. The Day Iron Foundry in nearby Mark made the mill. The foundry produced a variety of agricultural implements, some of which are on display at the Somerset Rural Life Museum, Glastonbury. Mr Rose used wooden shovels to shovel out the apple pomace from the mill into the cider press. Wooden shovels were used because metal shovels would taint and even poison the cider. It took two men to turn the wheels of the mill.
Ernest Redwood started working on a farm when he was twelve years old at a wage of sixpence a week. He helped with everything, milking, ploughing, cider making and sheep shearing. Ernest lived in Milverton all his life. His father kept two pigs a year that were slaughtered. His mother would cure the pigs and prepare hams and pork. Lard was made from the pigs fat and she used to make ‘scrap cakes’ with the lard.
In 1944 Meg Paul came from Burnley to join the Land Army in Somerset. She was sent to Steanbow Farm, Pilton, where girls were trained for a month to milk cows. Meg worked for six months at a farm in Pilton. The War Agriculture Committee then transferred Meg to Priddy to a tractor drivers’ depot, where she was trained to drive and maintain Fordson Major tractors. Meg was sent to different farms to plough and cultivate the land. Meg married in 1948 when she left the Land Army.
Jack, George and Madeleine Paul worked all their lives in the well-known firm of builders and painters and decorators, founded by their grandfather in 1893. They undertook various kinds of work in the business – George specialised in sign-writing and Madeleine ran the office. The firm painted schools, offices, pubs, and churches and was contracted to build some of the military camps that sprung up in Somerset during the Second World War.
Grace Parish and her husband farmed together in Pawlett near Bridgwater. Here she discusses flooding, a common occurrence for residents of the low lying Somerset Levels.
Les and Michael Musgrove are willow growers from Westonzoyland. They own around fifty acres of willow beds near Langport. Ninety percent of the willow they grow is Black Maul. This variety is popular with basket-makers as its generally seen as being the best working willow. The men use a small machine to cut the willow, which was traditionally cut by hand. As long as willow baskets continue to be made, both men see a future in the industry.
Wallace Musgrave was a member of the Musgrave basket-making family of Stoke St Gregory, a village at the heart of the Somerset Levels. He made baskets and worked for the Drainage Board around Aller Moor, Middlezoy and Westonzoyland. Mr Musgrave attended Drainage Board meetings and collected rent from farmers; he was an expert on the history of drainage on the Levels.
Brothers Peter and Tony Musgrave worked in the family willow merchant’s and basket-making business, which was started by their grandfather and carried on by their father. The business peaked during World War II when they had a contract with the War Ministry to make baskets for dropping supplies by parachute into occupied Europe. Although the brothers would have liked to go into the business, their father was adamant that they should not do so as he thought it was a dying industry. When their father became too old to carry on he gave the business to the remaining workers, and it soon finished. Peter and Tony are sad that such a flourishing enterprise should have completely vanished. Peter became a company director and Tony was a draughtsman with Westlands, the leading helicopter company based in Yeovil.
Stephen Morland was a member of the family that ran the Glastonbury sheepskin manufacturers and shoemakers Clarks, Son and Morland. The company closed in 1982. During the First World War the company produced thick heavy gloves for airmen. The leather gloves were cut at the factory, collected by local women who would sew them, and return them to the factory. The women were paid for each glove sewn.