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 December 17th 2013 an Action Group was formed with a view to establishing a Community Orchard
- 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, between Hartford and Weaverham.
WCMO have leased a plot of just under 1 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 enter the wood.
You may visit the Memorial Orchard at any time. We also plan to hold events like Apple Days and Wassailing.
We now have 79 young trees; 44 Wareham Russet, 4 Lord Derby, 12 Minshull Crab (which is not a crab apple!), 5 Arthur Barnes, 4 Betley Bee Bush and 10 Millicent Barnes. We have also recently installed two picnic benches, and our own notice board will be arriving later in the summer.
In addition, the Woodland Trust have placed a willow “stag” which can be seen peeking out through the trees adjacent to the Orchard site:
Our trees are all local Cheshire varieties, and none more so than the “Wareham Russet” (‘Wareham’ being the old pronunciation of ‘Weaverham’). This is particularly fitting for this Memorial Orchard as young men from Weaverham,such as those that fought in the First World War one hundred years ago, used to be known as “Russets”. Our Wareham Russet saplings were propagated from one of the very few trees remaining in Weaverham, a sole survivor of the Orchards that were once so common here.
The saplings are still young and small, so they are protected by a stake and wire mesh ( to stop rabbits nibbling the bark ). It will be some years before they bear fruit.
We have nearly 100 more apple tree saplings that have been grafted from scions (cuttings) collected from Trafford Drive Allotments Community Orchard, or donated by Orchard49 (a similar group in Manchester) or the National Fruit Collection. These include other Cheshire heritage varieties such as Eccleston Pippin, Lord Clyde, Rakemaker, Surecrop, Withington Welter, Burr Knot and Bee Bench, and will be ready for planting in the autumn.
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. We will plant these alongside some Cheshire Prune trees (damsons).
We intend to manage the orchard in an environmentally sensitive manner and when the trees are mature to share the harvest.
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.