The Black Hand Cyder Society
Welcome to the Denton Blackhand Cyder Society section of the Denton website. Here you can find out everything about the society, from how it began to our current activities.
The society has gone from strength to strength since its launch in 2001. A regular programme of activities has now become established with meetings throughout the year where the various stages of cyder production are performed and the results sampled.
In addition at least one major cyder-based social event is normally held each year to which members are encouraged to bring guests. These are:
- The Wassailing – held in January, and/or
- The Cyderfest – held in July or August.
But the most important time of year is the early autumn when apples are gathered and the Society’s chopping and pressing equipment used (as pictured above) to produce the apple juice ready for fermentation.
Membership of the Society now stands at more than 50 families. It is in good financial health and has a growing store of cyder to keep, see how it matures and enjoy.
New members are always welcome. Please contact: Adrian Hipwell, 788188.
The Pressing Weekend
The season starts at the beginning of October when foraging parties are sent out to bring in the crop of apples. Until 2016 a competitive spirit was involved by splitting the membership into three teams and awarding a trophy (see right) to the team that brought in the highest tonnage. This has now been suspended and "co-operative foraging" introduced.
A remarkable number of local people have surplus apples available.
This job must be completed before pressing itself starts. The apples are first chopped up in the mill and then passed though the press in batches. This is all very labour intensive but members join in knowing that it is a social event as well as good exercise. Appropriate refreshment is provided. Sometimes a long Friday evening and a full Saturday are required to complete this work.
In 2010 a record 685 gallons of juice were pressed. In 2016 the figure was 239 gallons. The average over the fifteen years of the Society's operations has been around 400 gallons. Full details appear on the Society's History Page.
Throughout the year regular, normally monthly, meetings are held. In the winter these are mainly work-orientated with racking and bottling sessions though suitable food and drink is provided to reward the workers. During summer months the Society transforms itself, courtesy of the Godsmark family, into the Mill Farm Boules Club. The game, boules (or petanque), is played, a barbecue is lit (and used on a self-help basis) and suitable quantities of cyder consumed.
This ancient festival, traditionally celebrated in the West Country on the 17th January, is all about encouraging the appropriate gods, spirits etc. to make sure that there will be a good apple crop that year. The BHCS version of the ceremony includes suitable incantations, tree blessings and a village maiden is required to ensure the authenticity of the proceedings.
Mulled cyder with a hog-roast or other suitable food is enjoyed to make sure that, whatever the temperature outside, members and their guests can keep themselves warm. And a good ceilidh band is sometimes added.
The Cyder Fest
This event is centred round the tasting of all the cyders produced during the year including those “developed” by individual members with a prize for the best one. The village marquees are pressed into service and, once again, a hog-roast and a band make the evening go with a swing.
Dates For 2019/20
All events are held at Great Green Farm unless otherwise indicated.
- Thursday 12th September Bottling Evening.
- Thursday 26th September Work Evening (preparing for pressing).
- Saturday 12th October Foraging Morning and bring & share lunch.
- Saturday 26th October Pressing Day including a bring & share lunch.
- Thursday 28th November Work/Social Evening.
- Thursday 16th January Wassailing Evening followed by AGM.
- Thursday 20th February Work/Social Evening.
Further details of all these activities from: Adrian Hipwell, 788188.
The Club has its own range of suitably "motifed" clothing available for purchase. This can be ordered via the Retro Alley Website.
The Society's Constitution
The current constitution and rules are available on Separate Page.
The History of the Society
Much more detail on the history of the society and its activities is available on the Society's History Page.