AN OLD and rare village apple tree is being brought back from the brink of extinction in a new orchard planted in Weaverham.

The Wareham russet is among the Cheshire heritage varieties that will be grown at the Community Memorial Orchard, in Thorn Wood, after 34 saplings were planted on Friday, February 12.

Tina Johnson, chairman of the orchard action group, said: "Weaverham villagers are called Russets after the Wareham Russet apple tree, which once grew prolifically in the village but the orchards were all grubbed up after the Second World War in order to build houses.

"The variety is now almost extinct, with only one or possibly two old trees remaining, and about four 10-year-old trees, which have been grafted from the one verifiable tree.

"We aim to bring this tree back from the brink of extinction, and about 50 or 60 per cent of the trees will be of this variety."

The orchard will also be planted with about 15 varieties of Cheshire heritage apple trees, hazel pears from Acton Bridge, which was one of the varieties of pear used to dye uniforms khaki in the First World War, and Cheshire prune trees.

The Community Memorial Orchard action group was constituted at a public meeting in January 2014, a year which commemorated 100 years since the start of the First World War.

Mike Hornby, Secretary of the group, said: "As this project began in 2014, the anniversary of the First World War, the orchard will also serve as a memorial to those who died, were injured or who served in conflicts in the succeeding years."

The orchard has been made possible thanks to funding from the Saltscape Landscape Partnership's community grants fund and Weaverham Parish Council.

It is also supported by Hartford Parish Council.

The land for the orchard has been leased from The Woodland Trust and volunteers have been working to clear it before the first saplings could be planted this month.

Hannah Petrie, from the Saltscape Landscape Partnership, said: "This is exactly the type of initiative our Community Grant is there to make possible.

"We are delighted to support a project that will benefit the local landscape and the people who live here."

To sponsor or buy a tree or join in practical work on the orchard email Mike at