Did you know that Kingston was once full of apple orchards? Originally Norbiton and Coombe were covered in orchards, as were Hook, parts of Tolworth and Old Malden as far as Plough Pond. We have an apple market and even two heritage varieties of apple; Mitchelson's seedling grown by Alexander Mitchelson, a former market gardener from Norbiton; and W.H. Divers of Hook, who founded the 'Colonel Yate'.

This local heritage is mostly hidden except for a number of street names such as Orchard Gardens, Apple Grove and Cox Lane, a few ancient apple trees in local gardens, and the Tolworth apple store. The apple store is a beautiful old barn c1856 with a pagoda style roof but it is in a poor condition. We are developing a campaign to petition the Council to make the apple store a listed building, highlight the orchard heritage of Kingston and obtain funding to restore the Tolworth apple store.

Work already done

The Kingston Environment Centre holds regular apple days  highlighting local heritage varieties available as well as the story of orchards in the borough. The next apple day will be on the 4th March at the Kingston Environment Centre. You can find more details here:  https://www.facebook.com/events/1757855241198078/ 

We have developed an apple orchard walk that snakes it’s way past key  Kingston orchard spots. Our first walk was  attended by fifteen people and we would like to repeat this with fifty people some time in May. Read more about it in Alison’s Blog here: http://alisonfure.blogspot.co.uk/2017/01/wassail-hook-to-tolworth-apple-walk.html

Alison Fure who is leading the project has a short presentation about the history of orchards and apples in Kingston which she delivered to the Kingston Environment Centre at their AGM. She is also happy to give the talk to any interested local groups.

Future plans

We would like to keep our heritage apples alive by planting apple trees in university and school grounds and community gardens. Cuttings (grafts) can be taken from some of the old trees still to be found in the borough and graft them onto new rootstock that can then be planted wherever there is an appropriate place.

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Cathy Greenwell with Newton Wonder apple tree

We have kicked off a crowdfunding campaign to  fundraise for a leaflet that will allow people to take a self guided walk through the key apple sites of Kingston highlighting interesting features along the way and filled with facts about Kingston apples past and future. You can help support the project by donating here: www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/alison-fure

The next step will be an apple parade along those same streets, an opportunity to learn more about local orchards and apples as well as have a bit of apple related fun. The apple parade will end at the apple store in Tolworth.

The final part of the project is to restore the Tolworth apple store. The building could make a perfect mini apple museum with features installed around the eaves to encourage bats and house martins as part of the restoration of Tolworth’s agricultural landscape.

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The Tolworth Apple Store