Sir George opens Abbotts Ann Apple Press
20 Oct 2013
Sir George with the Apple Press
Sir George with the Apple Press
Click for a full size picture
Sir George cut the ribbon to launch the apple press in the playground by the Village Hall in Abbotts Ann. Villagers brought their apples along on National Apple Day to have them pressed and turned into juice.

"This has been a fantastic year for apples, and folk are at a loss what to do with the ones left over after, they have stored what they need. Many brought their surpluses along to have them pressed, and took away the juice - either to freeze it, or to turn it into cider. A local pig farmer can use the residual pulp, so nothing is wasted"

When not in use as a press the wooden frame provides a swing for toddlers - see below.

" I am grateful to parish councillor Rebecca Bone for all the work she has put in to designing and commissioning the playground, and to Adam Rose for building it. And of course to Bernard amd the Paruish Council for masterminding the whole exercise."

I am grateful to Bernard Griffiths, Chairman of Abbotts Ann Parish Council, for the narrative below

ABBOTTS ANN APPLE PRESS within the Newly developed Recreational Ground for children

The story begins about 25 years ago, when Bernard Griffiths, Chairman of the Parish Council, came across an advertisement in the Andover Advertiser for a Cider Press - free to collect.

It was buried under a hedge in the garden of a Mr Bob Weedon, in Smannell, and turned out to be too big for Bernard's mother's Peugeot - indeed, he couldn't even lift it on his own.

So, reluctantly, it was left. Sparsholt College expressed a vague interest, but nothing came of this. Then, some years later, a chance conversation between Bernard and Peter Yarlett, a keen ciderist, in the Eagle led to renewed contact with Mr Weedon, and eventual recovery in 2011. It then took three friends, a large trolley, and Land Rover and trailer to bring it back to Abbotts Ann. It comprised all the metal parts, including the screw column, press plate, etc., but no woodwork.

There followed a visit to Burley in the New Forest, to Barry Topp's Cider Works Open Day, to see how the press should be reconstructed. Bernard found a post-card there, with a picture shewing a similar press apparently in the Reserve Collection of the Science Museum at Wroughton, and embarked upon considerable correspondence with the Science Museum both there and in London. The Museum staff were most interested in what was to be the Village Jubilee Project, of restoring an apple press for the village. Indeed, they very kindly allowed a small group of villagers to visit the Reserve Collection privately, to view their actual specimen.

The Science Museum identified what had been found as belonging to a "sheet" press - not for laundry as we first imagined, but for paper-making - and as our machine had originally been acquired from Tadley, near Overton, it seemed likely that it may have been used for the paper industry at Portals.

The Science Museum's own press had come from the Oxford University Press, and dated back to around 1790. They thought that a press could press anything, and that it would be quite all right to adapt the Abbotts Ann find to an authentic apple press.

There was again a pause in proceedings, as village life moved on, but then the Parish Council, inspired by Councillor Rebecca Bone, found themselves discussing renewal of the children's play area in the grounds of the War Memorial Hall. After consultation with village children, neighbours and local groups Mrs Bone created some simple designs for play equipment that was in keeping with the beautiful surroundings. The new equipment was to be locally constructed, in wood. The drawings for the swing looked vaguely familiar.. and local craftsman Adam Rose and Bernard came up with the idea of combining the frame of a swing as the frame for an apple press.

The result is a magnificent, robust new swing for the babies and toddlers, designed and built in solid oak by Adam Rose, (examples of whose work can be seen in his buildings at the Hawk Conservancy) and also the much-anticipated restored apple press for the village.

We hope that many happy hours will now be spent by the children of the village on their new play area and particular the new swing, and by all villagers in enjoying the products of their annual fruit harvest.

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Copyright Sir George Young Bt. 2015