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Lecture: Devonshire Cider Houses

Lecture: Devonshire Cider Houses

Martin Watts has been involved with the study, recording and interpretation of historic buildings and machinery for over 50 years.  After training in three-dimensional design and architecture in Bristol, he worked for a small architectural practice in Bath.  In 1979 he was appointed as curator of a working watermill museum in South Yorkshire and in 1982 he moved to Crowdy Mill in South Devon, where he carried out practical repairs to a derelict watermill and set up a stone-ground flour business.  From 1989 he worked as freelance millwright and mill researcher, carrying out practical repairs and consultancy on over 200 mills, from Scotland to the Channel Islands.  Now retired, he continues to research and write about old working buildings and machinery, particularly those of his adopted home county of Devon.

Historic farm buildings are generally incompatible with modern agricultural practices and equipment, so there is an urgent need to record those that survive, in terms of their construction, layout and function. Cider houses were once a very common feature of Devon farms, with their specialist equipment for breaking and pressing apples to make cider. While some survive, the traditional working parts have often been dismantled or removed. Cider is still made in the county, sometimes using traditional equipment, but traditional cider houses, in common with other traditional rural buildings such as corn barns and linhays, are fast becoming a thing of the past. This talk sets out to illustrate some of these buildings and explain their working parts, and to underline the historic importance of cider production in Devon.