The history of Shepton cider production

The cider mill has been a fixture in Shepton Mallet for as long as anyone can remember - but exactly how did it all begin? Credit: ITV West Country

It's a West Country heritage stretching back centuries - and is steeped in unusual traditions.

But where did it all start for Shepton Mallet?

After its release in 1953, Babycham - made from pear juice - became an immediate hit.

It made millions for its creator and owner, Francis Showering, and his company.

But, just 4 years later the Babycham bubble burst. Sales slumped and the factory fell into financial trouble.

In 1980 the Babycham bubble burst. Credit: ITV West Country

1991 sparked the first high-profile take over of Showerings, as the drinks firm was sold in a colossal million pound management buy out.

The group was bought again in 1994, this time in a surprise bid by rivals Matthew Clark, who insisted it would be 'business as usual'.

The company also bought Taunton's Blackthorne Cider, and another major production line began at Shepton Mallet.

Taunton's Blackthorne Cider was bought by the firm in 1994. Credit: ITV West Country

But. as cider sales continued to slump, the mill was plagued by a fall in profits, and rumours were rife of more takeover bids.

Credit: ITV West Country

In an attempt to bouy profits Shepton Mallet Cider Mill was given a £35m facelift, while a marketing campaign was launched to encourage more people to drink cider.

The Mill's final takeover came in 2014 after Irish C&C bought the business outright.

Fastrack to present day and the Shepton Mallet Cider Mill will stop production in April 2016, leaving just a skeleton staff to run the apple pulping operation.

End of an era of cider production in Somerset. Credit: ITV West Country