BACK in November 1999 a report revealed how a hand operated apple press was maintaining a link with the past.

‘Teign Valley cider is a well kept secret. It has its own distinct flavour and packs quite a punch at about 11 per-cent but you won’t find it any pubs or shops.

Producing the unique brew is a labour of love for locals, who are keeping going a traditional art that has all but died out in most rural communities. Once a year residents spend a day gathering the apples and turning them into a tipple to be enjoyed by friends some months later.

The chief brewer is Ian Corner of Christow who has his own cider press, which is reckoned to be 100 years old. He obtained it about 13 years ago from a farm near Honiton, and the single screw machine needs very little maintenance and is still doing its stuff.

‘We do it for fun and to keep a rural pastime alive. Everybody joins in and it is great fun,’ said Ian. ‘For years many farms used to produce their own cider, and it was given to farm workers, especially at harvest time.

‘But now private cider making has largely died out and many orchards grubbed as well.’ The quality of the cider varies each year depending on the apples, but last year’s vintage is reckoned to be the best yet.

This year about 50 people from the valley villages gathered to collect the apples from the Teign Valley Golf Club. About one and a half tons were put in tractor trailers and taken to Ian’s home.

Jim Snell of Newton Abbot brought along his vintage steam roller to drive the crushing machine which reduced the crop to pulp. Then it was all hands to the press to extract all the juice from apples, which will be left to ferment until it is ready for drinking next spring.

It was hard and thirsty work, and all the helpers had an hour’s break to tuck into an al-fresco lunch of home produced goodies. And it was all washed down of course with a glass or two delicious, additive free valley cider!