For three long years Oliver Mann has been working to restore his ancient orchard in Marshland St James.

Now he hopes to reap the rewards and save similar sites with an ambitious new business venture, Marshland Cider.

The former accountant is busy establishing his own craft cider press from scratch after the project was granted planning permission by West Norfolk Council last month.

He hopes to begin supplying pubs, restaurants and shops next summer, as well as selling his artisan cider over the internet.

Mr Mann, 42, said: “I’ll be making pure juice cider in a very traditional way. Feedback so far on prototype products has been excellent.

“But I’ve still got a mountain to climb to get a finished product ready.”

Mr Mann moved to Smeeth Road three years ago and immediately fell in love with the neglected orchards surrounding his home.

Some of the trees were more than 100 years old and he decided cider making would be the best way to save the trees and make use of their fruit, including the windfalls.

As well as putting his apples to good use, Mr Mann hopes Marshland Cider will one day give a purpose to other ancient orchards in the area, many of which have fallen into disuse.

“Finding a commercial outlet for the local apples is crucial in saving the orchards that have been part of our landcape and heritage for so long,” he said.

Mr Mann decided to take the plunge two years ago and gave up his job as an accountant to focus on the project.

“It’s been hugely tough, physical work so far, but the challenge is only just beginning,” he said.

“The next step is to construct some premises and I’ll be doing the building work myself to keep costs to a minimum.

“I’ll need to complete this before the apples are ripe next year.

“It would be fantastic if my cider business were to take off and enable some of these apples from local trees to be used.”

The organic cider will be made using 100 per cent juice fermented in unheated farm buildings.

It will be brewed using a mixture of cooking, dessert and cider apples and will be naturally slightly sparkling.