Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Rubbish Tuesday

It's been a while since I joined in with Roan for Rubbish Tuesday.

This is what Roan has to say about Rubbish Tuesday:

My idea was to have a place to post 'old things'. Anything old
and/or deteriorating such as, but not limited to, old houses, barns, outbuildings, old cars, rusty things, antiques, interesting junk, or it can be something in pristine condition, but just old.

Last weekend I helped a friend clear out a shed in his Mothers garden.  

She has recently moved into sheltered accommodation and there was 40 odd years worth of junk and treasure to wade through.  Most of it really was junk or things that were past saving but, mixed in with this were some real treasures some of which I'm helping to clean up to sell and some which he was kind enough to say I could keep.

My post today is about THIS  particular treasure:

I was so excited to find this cider crate, we also found a wooden Coca Cola crate which my friend is keeping for himself.  I will try to get a photo of it at some point.

Wooden crates have become very popular over the years with interior designers and this has filtered down to the average household but to discover an original tucked away in a shed is an amazing find.

the original metal fixings are rusted but still strong

inside you can still see the marks where
 the cider bottles were
There is a little damage to the base of the crate

Now I'm a bit of a google addict, I like to know things, I'm interested in things and so I did some homework on this crate and the origins of Coates cider.

I found this article which I am lifting in it's entirety as it gives an excellent account of Coates Cider and it's founder Revers Coate.

Coates Cider

Altogether now "Coates comes up from Somerset, where the cider apples grow"

"It's more than 75 years since the famous Coate's cider was first made in the village of Nailsea near Bristol - and a quarter of a century since of a century since production ended".
For people living outside the West Country Coate's cider meant cartoon yokels announcing in rich Wurzel accents that "Coate's comes up from Zummerset", where the zider apples grow" in a TV commercial. It was an inspired marketing move, especially as the jingle was based on the popular "We Come Up from Somerset" by the great Portishead songwriter Fred Wetherley Coate's did indeed come up from Somerset and it was Redvers Coate, the company founder who did as much as anyone to move Somerset cider from the fields and into the cities.

Redvers CoateBy the end of the Great War, cider was in decline. In 1887, Parliament had banned the traditional practice of paying farm workers in cider (two quarts a day) and the growth in French wine drinking was hitting sales hard. Coate, a graduate of Bristol University was looking for a job in 1924, a time when Gloucester, Devon and Herefordshire ciders were being nationally marketed but Somerset products were scarcely known outside the county.

He knew little about cider making so worked unpaid for a year at the Long Ashton Cider Research Institute before borrowing enough from family, and friends to open a cider works at Nailsea. He was just 23 years of age.

The staff comprised Coate, foreman Charlie Higgins from Williams Cider, Backwell; Cooper Sid Summers, cellar man Jack Allsop, clerk and later company secretary, Frank Matthews, Bill Baker and a man called Iles.

Redvers Coate had installed the most up to date equipment in his one sheds, including three glass lined vats holding 10,000 gallons each. The expensive gamble paid off at the end of the first year, Coate's cider took three first prizes at the National Cider Competition.

There were problems, of course. The new company was beginning to build up a market in local pubs when the big breweries extended the tied house principle from beers to ciders as well. That meant Coate's having to negotiate new contracts with the major suppliers. Apples were bought from local farmers who usually made their own ciders, but they had to be persuaded to grub out centuries of old trees and replace them with new varieties.

But by the start of the Second World War, Coate's was beginning to make a name nationally Sales rose in wartime thanks to beer rationing and Coate's was soon employing up to 125 staff at busy times. Every day at 12.30 p.m., there was a tasting session when the product was checked against previous years' ciders and against competitors' drinks. It was that kind of quality control which led to a Brewers Exhibition Champion Gold Medal and further growth to become the second largest cider producer in Britain.

By 1956, Coate's was enjoying a record year and the Showering brothers of Shepton Mallet, who had really hit the jackpot by selling pear cider (perry) as trendy Babycham, took over the company. Redvers Coate, then chairman of Somerset Cider Makers, stayed on as managing director as ShoweringsCider Tankardtransferred all cider production to Nailsea and invested in new buildings and machinery on the 13 acre site.

"For the first time in the centuries of long history of cider making, it can be said that never again will one vintage Somerset cider apple be wasted" said Showerings boss Herbert Showering. Redvers Coate described the merger as "a dream come true for me" and added: "This is a really big event in the history of Somerset cider". "We shall now see to it that good advertising and marketing support is used for Somerset cider which is one of the world's most natural and healthy drinks".

Production and staff both doubled and by the 1960s, Coate's was exporting worldwide and buying apples from more than 1,000 Somerset farmers. Redvers Coate retired in 1969 and two years later, Showering merged the company with Gaymers and Whiteways. Then, in the early 1970s, production was switched to a new plant at Shepton Mallet employing just 70 people. By 1975, the Nailsea factory was closed and the site was eventually sold to Marconi Avionics.

Redvers Coate, master cider maker, died at his home in Abbots Leigh on June 13 1985, after a serious illness. He was 84 years of age.

He had lived and developed the cider orchards in Manor Road.

Isn't that a great story?

So far all I have done is give the crate a clean with a stiff churn brush to get the cobwebs and dirt off but I'm hoping to restore it a little.  I don't want to take away any of it's charm or make it perfect, just to clean it up, maybe find a way of bringing out the colours of the wood and the lettering and then to find the perfect place for it in my home.

I'm hoping that someone might have some pointers on the best way to go about this (I'm thinking you might have some ideas Emma Kate ...) because it really does deserve to be treated with a little respect having survived so long and having been so unloved.


Mike @ A Bit About Britain said...

Well I never! I remember Coate's cider! Can't help you with your crate though...

Sarah said...

That's ok Mike, I have a friend who I'm pretty sure can - I'm just so pleased to have it!

Gosia k said...

Great story i Love it

Brighton Pensioner said...

Can't help with the cleaning - sorry about that - but it's good to see Backwell being mentioned. I know it almost as well as the nearby village (hamlet) of Brockley.

Sarah said...

Thank you Gosia.

It's great to have a little bit of local history BP - there is also something else which is connected to this story but I'm saving that for another post.

JoAnn ( Scene Through My Eyes) said...

A charming crate for sure - I would leave it just like it is and enjoy it richness of age.

Karen S. said...

I have to help to offer either, but what an amazing and interesting post! Funny thing about old crates around here, sometimes they are just remakes, (an with incredible skills in aging wood too) so it's quite interesting when I see the real thing.

LV said...

Great wine history story.

Stephen Hayes said...

That crate has so much character. I have just the place for it in my studio.

joeh said...

That crate is a grate find. I wouldn't do anything but clean it up.

Maybe consult an expert in how to best preserve it without destroying any of its character.

Tom said...

Cider has become BIG business in these parts. Tom The Backroads Traveller

Emma Kate at Paint and Style said...

It's utterly perfect! Don't touch it! It has a bleached out look that i try to fake with newer crates. If you wanted the lettering to stand out more you could try a grey sharpie but if the wood is old and dry the ink seeps so stay well away from the edges of the letters. But really, I wouldn't. It's GORGEOUS and original. You don't need to tamper with it. xxx

Halcyon said...

What a neat find! I hope you'll show some pictures of the restored item when it's finished.

Sarah said...

I think I agree with everyone who says don't do anything other than clean it up. I certainly don't want to do anything that destroys it's charm and character so it's probably best left as it is other than cleaning.

I did wonder about using a sharpie to go over the lettering Emma Kate but the wood is very old and dry and I'm no expert so I'll leave it.

So far I don't have the perfect setting for it Stephen but I'll find one so I'm afraid it's not going anywhere :-).

I'll see if I can find out how to best preserve it Joe although it seems to have survived pretty well just being kept dry so maybe that's all I need to do.

EG CameraGirl said...

The cider box is indeed a treasure!

Tanya Breese said...

that is a great find!!