Memories of an Apple Picker Now in Print

October 23 2008


As a child in the 40’s Gillian Bulmer earned sixpence pocket money picking a sack of cider apples for her father and has missed only a few harvests since when she was working overseas.

Now she has recorded her memories of apple picking, the people and the machines, in a compact book, ‘Cider Apples: From Tree to Factory,’ a compilation of facts and anecdotes about a subject which runs deep in Herefordshire heritage.

From those childhood memories picking apples for her father, Bertram Bulmer, whose own father, Fred was one of the founders of the Bulmer cider company, at their farm at Breinton, she recounts the dramatic changes over six decades in the methods used to harvest the precious crop of cider apples.  Still running the 50 acre orchard at Breinton planted by her father, Miss Bulmer’s lifetime experience of growing and harvesting the apples for the cider mills comes alive in this well illustrated account.

She recalls ‘gangs’ of women in the 40’s picking up apples off the ground for a shilling (5p) a sack, or £1 a ton, after the fruit had been shaken off the trees with a ‘panking pole,’ before the first basic mechanical shaking and harvesting machines were introduced in the 60’s.

Those who grow cider fruit today, and those who toiled in the orchards for a few pennies a sack before and after World War 2, will enjoy these reminiscences of a life-long apple picker.

The book is available from the Hereford Cider Museum, 21 Ryelands Street, Hereford, HR4 OLW, at £4.75 or £5.25 by post.


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