Successive generations of the Sheppy family have made cider since 1816 – since 1817 at Three Bridges Farm. To celebrate Sheppy’s bicentenary, the founder’s great great grandson David and his wife Louisa have begun an ambitious and wide-ranging programme of redevelopment at the farm. Once building work is completed later this year some of the farm’s oldest and most iconic buildings will have been given a new lease of life.
Scaffolding has already gone up around the old red brick building which was the press house and bottling line. This will be converted – imaginatively – into an extension and enlargement of the existing farm shop with the old storage tanks on the original gallery and the windows retained to preserve its character. Louisa Sheppy said, “Behind the shop will be our tasting counter. We’ll use the old optics and retain all the original features, barrels and wooden storage so that it feels like an old cider plant.”
Most of the rest of the building will become a restaurant with an upper gallery, a catering kitchen, additional cafe, dining area, bar and snug room for functions. The building’s existing attractive arched doorways will become a feature of the new development.
The Sheppy family has already completed a redevelopment of the processing plant over the last 3 years, introducing state-of-the-art equipment at each stage of cider-making from pressing through to storage and bottling. The plant now produces 2.5 million litres of cider annually and provides employment for 35 people, some part-time.
“Years ago, David’s father gave a lot of attention to the public side of the business,” Louisa explained. “Recently, David has invested about £3 million in production so now we’re ready to look at what we’re offering the public. If we can make the most of all the features of the buildings we’ll have an interesting venue – with atmosphere so we can host events. I’d like to encourage people to use the orchards and farm a little more. We already have a new Farm Shop Manager who is getting on top of that side of the business and I think the location and brand reputation will help us. There’s no reason why it shouldn’t work very well.”