Wales’ craft cider revival is set to be recorded in a new project backed by the Heritage Lottery Fund.
The Welsh Perry and Cider Society (WPCS) is recruiting for the project, ‘The Heritage of Orchards & Cidermaking in Wales’.
The aim is to enlist community groups to develop orchards, to build a comprehensive list of Welsh perry and cider fruit varieties, and collect oral histories to build digital stories about the revival of cidermaking and the orchard tradition in Wales.
The society is looking to recruit a heritage project manager and project support assistant based at Blaengawney Farm near Hafodyrynys, Caerphilly county borough, and a heritage project officer based in north Wales. The jobs are full time and for a fixed two-year term. The deadline for applications is January 14, and anyone interested should email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07702 942587 for more details.
Cidermaking in Wales, which had been established by the Normans in the 14th Century, went into decline after the Second World War.
The orchards remained standing, and the first of a new wave of craft cidermakers started to use the fruit from the old trees in the 1980s.
Mike Penney’s ‘Troggi Seidr’ began to make cider and perry with his Victorian machinery, and in Radnorshire Ralph Owen’s ‘Ralph’s Cider’ pressed local cider apples on an antique mobile twin-screw press. The national society was founded in the Clytha Arms near Raglan in 2001, and the first Welsh Perry and Cider Festival was staged in 2002.
There are now around 40 Welsh cider and perrymakers. Welsh cidermakers have won awards including CAMRA Gold Awards for Cider for Gwynt-y-Ddraig and Ralph’s, and CAMRA Gold Awards for Perry for Gwynt-y-Ddraig and Seidr Dai.
Welsh cidermakers use Welsh varieties of apples and pears including ‘Frederick’, ‘Breakwell’s Seedling’ and ‘Perthyre’. The ‘Broom Apple’ of Monmouthshire, and ‘Pen Caled’ from West Wales had to be propagated at Paul Davis’ Dolau-Hirion Nursery at Llandeilo.
Perry pears like ‘Monmouthshire Burgundy’ and the ‘Potato Pear’ have also been rediscovered. The work of the cider and perrymakers helps preserve heritage apples and pears, ensuring their future survival. The society has established a Museum Orchard with more than 20 varieties acting as a genetic bank.
For more information on the society and its work, and Welsh producers, click here.
Watch a video on the society’s work here.