One of Cheshire’s oldest farms, famed for its award-winning apple juice, is to close after more than three quarters of a century.
Colin and Monica Haworth, owners of Eddisbury Fruit Farm in Kelsall, which has been making Cheshire Apple Juice and Cheshire Cider for the past 18 years, will retire at the end of March, meaning the business will cease trading entirely.
Speaking to the Chronicle , Monica said: “It’s been hard work but we’re ready to relax now.”
The news will disappoint many businesses in the Chester area, who have been buying juice from the Haworths since they started selling it in 1996.
The farm was originally started by Colin’s father Leslie in 1936, after he converted it from an old dairy.
For years he grew fruits there, even picking blackcurrants for Robinsons to use in their fruit cordial, and during the Second World War, accommodated Land Army Girls before Colin began to take an interest in it in the late 1960s.
In 1971 after his father’s death, Colin started the popular ‘Pick Your Own’ facility at the farm, and began supplying his fruit to wholesale markets in Liverpool and Manchester.
He married Monica in 1990 and the family started trading as Cheshire Apple Juice after her son Michael Dykes spent time learning the juicing expertise while studying at Pershore College, Warwickshire.
After 18 years and huge success catering to local businesses including the Chester Grosvenor, Hickory’s Smokehouse and many local farm shops, the Haworths have built up a loyal customer-base of nearly 70 clients.
Eddisbury’s apple juice is so popular they can sell about 6,000-80,000 bottles a year to clients based all over the county.
The farm, which at one stage grew 26 different varieties of apple, have won dozens of ‘best beverage’ awards and was made Cheshire Life Magazine ‘s ‘Food Hero of the Year’ in 2009.
Monica, 66, who first met Colin, 68, after answering an advert in the Chester Chronicle ‘s ‘Find a Friend’ page, said they were sad to stop trading but were looking forward to relaxing.
“We’ve had some great times over the years and have some fond memories of the camaraderie among all the workers,” she said.
“There’s always been such a family feel on site and we’ve always been very much hands on in our approach to work.
“Every bottle we sold had some love in it,” she said.
“We had hoped to sell the business on but the economic climate is shaky at the moment and we have not had any potential buyers coming forward as yet.
“We also thought my son Michael might take over the family business but he has forged a career in satellite technology working in Asia, so we will leave in March with lots of very happy memories, not only of all the traders we have met along the way but most of all, the staff who have toiled in rain or shine to pick the fruit in order for them to sell on to our valued and loyal customers.”
The couple plan to stay living on the farm in Blackcurrant Cottage, and focus more on their love of folk music during their retirement.
“If we were in normal everyday jobs we’d have retired at 60 but the business we’re in is different,” added Monica.
“The demand is still there definitely, and we have loyal customers but it comes to a point where if there is no next generation, we have to draw a line.
“We’ve come to the end, we want to relax. It’s been hard and we’ve had to be very dedicated.
“Right now, I am spending my days labelling juice while Colin goes out delivering. Some businesses have been so devastated that we’re closing that they’ve ordered huge cases of juice – one wants 84 cases!”