Apples on the Strawberry Line
Since I Started working for Cider makers as a freelance photographer back in the 1990s I’ve development my love for the world of Apple Orchards and have looked for ways of being involved in some way. For around 15 years now I’ve made apple juice and cider, hosted apple days, planted an orchard and started The Scrumping Project, which on a much smaller scale, mirrors the Wasted Apple venture.
For ‘Apples on the Strawberry Line’ project I’ve decided to make Apple Juice using apples that have only been picked along the Strawberry Line, i.e the Old Cheddar Valley line. This line ran from Yatton to Shepton Mallet up until the 1960s and gained the name due to the transportation of fresh Strawberries from Cheddar during the summer months. Of course, the line no longer exists, but the spirit of the line lives on in the form of the popular Strawberry Line Cycle Way, where you can explore the Rail Museum at Sandford Station, as well various old railway buildings and tunnels and beautiful countrysideas you take a leisurely ride down to Cheddar with it’s impressive views of the Gorge. The Line also connects with the East Somerset Railway which still runs weekly Steam Train and Diesel Train rides from Cranmore throughout the summer.
Over the years, I’ve managed to pick up many hobbies, which include Cycling, Model Railways ( the railways in general ), photography and music, so in one idea, I seemed to have managed to marry all this passions together, which feels very satisfying.
There is a lot of scope for picking apples along this line and I’m currently exploring the area to discover the potential sources of apples and gaining permissions to pick the fruit, and work out pricing or barter structures in payment for the fruit (i.e apples in exchange for bottled juice).
Once the Juice is bottled and ready I’d love to sell it in some of the cafes and shops along the way, some of which operate from the old station buildings.
For the label and graphics I’ve really enjoyed playing with the iconic GWR posters and logos, mixing in apple and orchard references wherever I can.
The Label is in the style of the GWR Posters that became popular in the 1930s, featuring striking paintings of destinations in idillic and glamorous locations . The poster includes the circular GWR logo, which subtly changed to GWA ( Great Western Apples ! ), see below.
The label below features a 1930’s Steam Train passing through Sandford Station surrounded by overflowing Apple Orchards, on the way to Cheddar, to pick up fresh Strawberry’s during the summer months, to be then transported to the tables of the City of Bristol, Bath and London (amongst many others) .
The label represents a hectic, busy and vibrant time on the line, which will hopefully be reflected in the fresh, healthy and tasty apple juice.
For the wider project the Label can be changed to represent individual Stations or areas that have supplied the apples. In this case it’s the Katy Apples that can be found beside their Cider Mill in Sanford. I’m currently commission a painting of Cheddar station which will be a generic illustration of the project.
As I said, I love the idea of mixing together British Rail/GWR graphics and mashing (for want of a better word ) them up with related apple/cider wording and phrasing. The typography is so simple and clear, originally designed to quickly guide travellers in the right direction and was the same on every station.
I’ll also talk to people along the route to gather apple information and train memories, as I want the Project to be a part audio visual and the website to be full of voices and sounds, As a photographer and Filmmaker I want to gather mix together train and environmental recordings, images and memories. If i can get the correct funding I’d like to also commission Poetry and Music.
Through this project it would be great to support Strawberry Line Cycle Way Group, to support the cycle route extension plans, so the idea of the juice has a forward thinking feel. I would also like to support and raise money towards the wonderful ‘The Railway Children Project’
Linking my love of Apple Juice and Cider making, Cycling, Trains and Model Railways, this project ticks a lot of boxes for me, I’m putting a lot of energy into it and in turn, it’s giving me a lot of pleasure. If it’s a success, I’d like to do the same thing on other old regional lines, so if anybody knows of any unused apples lying within a tooting distance of a railway line, please get in touch, any help or advice is gratefully received.