IN today’s Timeout, we look back at a Sussex institution – the Merrydown Cider Factory.

Originally, the famous cider was brewed at Horam Manor, near Heathfield, East Sussex.

The company was founded by three friends in 1946 – Jack Ward, John Kelland-Knight and Ian Howie – with the trio each putting up £100 to turn what was then Jack’s wine making hobby into a functioning business.

Soon after, the Merrydown enterprise, named after Jack’s house, was underway.

The very first batch of Merrydown Apple Wine was fermented from 450 gallons of apple juice using a 300-year-old oak cider press borrowed from a local farmer.

Within a year, the scale of production had outgrown Mr Ward’s garage at his home in Rotherfield and the partners subsequently bought Horam Manor nine years later, along with seven acres of land.

By 1955, production had risen to 400,000 gallons.

During the 1980s, the cider was sold in litre bottles as either dry (silver label) or sweet (gold label) and had an ABV of 8.2%.

However, during the late 1990s the strength was reduced to 7.5% due to potential excess duty costs.

The brewery celebrated widespread success throughout the 1990s, but in 2004 Merrydown decided to close its factory and contract out production to other cider manufacturers.

The cider (along with the brewery) was acquired in 2005 by The SHS Group - a privately owned £400 million food and drink company, based in Belfast, which also markets Shloer, bottlegreen and WKD.

Merrydown cider is still made to the original recipe developed by the founders back in 1946, and uses both eating and cooking apples which give it its unique taste.

Our pictures show a number of characters at Merrydown through the years, including Nina Burgess, Isaac Field and Karen Brent.

Do you know what happened to any of these people?

Did they stay at the factory until its closure?

Let us know at