The year 2014 marked the centenary of the start of The First World War and the 70th anniversary of the D-Day Landings. Following an open meeting at The University Primary Academy, Weaverham, on 17 December 2013 an Action Group was formed with a view to establishing a Community Orchard.
Last year, due to lockdown we held our AGM using Zoom but attendance was very poor. We therefore decided that, like many other local organisations, we would not hold an AGM this year but will do so next year when, hopefully, we will be able to meet inside when the new Sea Scout hall will be available.
We are grateful to the Co-op Community Fund and those Co-op members who chose the Memorial Orchard as their local good cause so that we could receive 1% of everything they spent. As a result we received two payments from the Co-op in 2020. The first on 9th April was for £635.82 and the second on13th November for £2254.82 making a total of £2,890.64.
Fiona and I laid a wreath at the orchard at 11.00a.m. on 11th November 2020. Unfortunately lockdown restrictions at the time only allowed two people from different households to meet outside. However, two individual passers-by stopped some distance away when we observed the two minute silence.
Work continued at the orchard between lockdowns in 2020 although during lockdown some volunteers worked alone or as a married couple. Our first official workday of 2021 was scheduled for Tuesday, 4th May but this was postponed until the following week due to heavy rain. We are particularly grateful to Geoff Hornby and Rob Lloyd who join action group members on a regular basis at our work sessions.
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- To establish an orchard in memory of all those who fought in two World Wars and in more recent conflicts.
- To commemorate the centenary of the First World War.
- To save the Wareham Russet apple tree from extinction and to grow it alongside other Cheshire heritage fruit trees.
- To plant additional pocket orchards of Wareham Russet apple trees in the locality.
- To provide an amenity for Weaverham, Hartford, and neighbouring communities.
- To facilitate educational visits and social events.
The Memorial Orchard is in Thorn Wood on Northwich Road, just outside Weaverham.
WCMO have leased a plot of just under one acre from the Woodland Trust, who own Thorn Wood. The 25 year lease was signed in December 2015. The Orchard is to the right of the footpath as you go through the gate.
You may visit the Memorial Orchard at any time. We also plan to hold events such as Apple Days and Wassailing.
The Orchard: 2020
In February we planted 6 more Wareham Russets, to replace trees that had been lost, and 2 Hazel Pears. We are hopeful that this has now completed the planting phase, and we now need to focus on looking after our young trees to ensure that they become fully established
We are very grateful to Tom Adams who raised the grafts for us at his nursery near Oswestry, from scions that we provided in March last year.
Tom now has grafts of some of the varieties from our Orchard – including Wareham Russets – available for sale, see his website for details (https://www.tomtheappleman.co.uk/) .
We were lucky with the weather for our planting and we are beginning to get the hang of how to do it:
The layout is shown below:
In addition to the Wareham Russetts that we have planted in the Orchard, we have also donated or sold another 19 saplings to organisations or individuals in the Weaverham area. We hope that in this way, by ensuring that the new trees are spread around the village, we will be able to ensure that the future of the Wareham Russett is once again secure.
We were also very pleased to welcome Charles Cottle who visited us to help planting the Hazel Pear saplings. One of Charles’ relatives was a descendant of Sgt Thomas Moreton Gandy, 22nd Manchester Regiment, who was killed in action in France, March 1917. He is remembered on the Weaverham War Memorial.
By April the two Hazel Pears that were planted in February had taken well. As we have said before, many varieties of pear were used to dye uniforms khaki during the First World War. It is believed that the Hazel Pear, commonly grown in Acton Bridge, was one of them.
Well. COVID-19 may be rocking our world, but nature carries on regardless. During one of our recent daily walks, we’ve been checking on progress and the trees are just beginning to burst into blossom. Some of our Wareham Russetts are now 4 years old, and doing very well:
Some of the other varieties are also thriving, such as this Millicent Barnes, although others are later to flower:
However, It’s not all been plain sailing. Some of you will know that we also sowed some wildflower seed in October last year around the “Children’s Orchard” – our circle of 18 dwarf Warehams – but so far these don’t seem to have flourished. Never mind; we’ll try again.
And we are lucky enough to have a range of other wild flowers that are already established – such as these cowslips:
The bee hotels are also busy, although the residents wouldn’t stay still for long enough to pose for a photo.
Made by Fiona Casson and her father, we hope that these will help to encourage bees to visit our trees for pollination!
We intend to manage the orchard in an environmentally sensitive manner, and to share the harvest when the trees are mature. To help us in this respect we are always looking for volunteers to help with the ongoing maintenance such as weeding, pruning and litter-picking. We usually have fortnightly work mornings, especially during the summer months, and if you would like to join us please contact us here.
We hope the Memorial Orchard will become a reminder of Cheshire’s apple, pear and damson growing heritage, helping to preserve for everyone to taste and enjoy many old varieties once commonly grown in this area. We also hope it will provide a place of quiet reflection for us to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice.
Weaverham Community Memorial Orchard
Registed as a charity with HMRC in England and Wales (No. EW23706)
A non-profit making company incorporated at Companies House as a Company Limited by Guarantee.
Company number 9657902.