Photograph used with kind permission of Bill Bradshaw - http://iamcider.blogspot.co.uk)
Having not noticed much comment on the passing of Frank Naish - with the exception of the fine work done be Bill Bradshaw, I felt that it needed remembering...
Frank was the last in a chain of the Naish family to take the helm of 'Naish's Cider' - a well known, if a little hard to get of late, cider company based in the heart of Somerset. At 89, he was also well and truly the oldest working cider maker in the UK - commercially in any case. More than this, however, was tat Frank represented the last of the 'old guard' of producers who used trusted old equipment to press the farms varieties of apples - what he had been taught by his father at 10 years old.
It isn't that Frank was a farmer who made cider - although this is true. There are still plenty of farmers making cider today. But in our corporate world Frank stood out for me as someone who was the 'genuine article'. And I know of no one else left like that.
OK - I am not harking back to some kind of cider 'golden age', if ever there was such a thing. And there are real characters left at the craft end of the industry (though I confess to having seen a photo of Julian Temperley in a suit... (though I would struggle to make a case for him 'being' a cider industry 'suit').
I think the uniqueness of Frank is summed up superbly by this video. It is a little long, but well worth the viewing. This short film was made a year or two ago by Community Channel TV. I didn't ask permission, but am sure they won't mind
I confess that I only met Frank once - well, I wouldn't even call it that... saw him was probably more the correct phrase... and I fail to remember what was said between us. I doubt there would have been much other than cider in common though. So I am not the best person to give some eulogy or orbituary of him. However, I think I can speak for the cider community when I say that we have lost something in the passing of Frank... not all bad, but lost nevertheless.
I also have no idea what happens to Naish's Cider now... succession at the craft end of the cider industry is rather sketchy at best. But whatever happens, at least the company (and Frank) earned a rightful place in cider lore.
So, whenever you are reading this, raise a glass to Mr Naish and, if it is of the commodity kind, just consider - all the effort that goes into making some of these larger companies look traditional and authentic... well, Frank was the real deal... no PR bull and no corporate marketing suits trying to fain respectability.