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20 Dorset cider apples rediscovered

Author: Jonathan Hudston
Date: 19/01/11 8:08 AM

TWENTY varieties of traditional Dorset cider apple have been rediscovered by the award-winning Powerstock Cider Festival supremo Nick Poole and the renowned cider apple expert Liz Copas, author of A Somerset Pomona.

For the last four years Liz and Nick have been hunting through orchards, fields and gardens for apples that used to make Dorset cider.

In the case of Golden Ball from Netherbury, there was only one tree left.

Marlpits Late Bittersweet may also have been unique.

But no more.

Liz said: “Having gone to all the trouble of finding them and resurrecting them, we want them spread about the county and put to good use.”

So all 20 of the rediscovered Dorset varieties have been propagated up in Herefordshire by John Worle, Bulmer’s ex orchards manager who now runs a nursery.

And more than 300 strong, healthy, bare-rooted, bush trees will be coming to Dorset for planting on March 19. (They can be grown on as standard trees, if desired).

Trees cost £5 each – if you’d like the pleasure, but also the responsibility, of reviving part of Dorset’s heritage.

Orders can be placed via Nick and Liz’s Dorset Cider project website (NB this website is being updated right now by Liz’s son).

Demand is strong. If you’re lucky, trees can be collected on March 19 from a bit of land opposite The Half Moon pub in Melplash (between Bridport and Beaminster).

The land is owned by the cider apple grower Rupert Best, who’s in charge of the Orchards & Cider Pavilion at the Bath & West Show.

Mr Best is going to establish a new “mother orchard” in Melplash including all of the 20 rediscovered varieties.

Fourteen trees will also go for planting around the car park of the Mill House Cider Museum in Overmoigne near Weymouth. The National Trust has also ordered some.

Traditional Dorset cider apple varieties


Golden Bittersweet                 

Marnhull Bitters                                     


Meadow Cottage                                                           


Marlpits Late                                                                                      

Winter Stubbard                                                                     

Hains Late Sweet


Dash Hays Crab

Yeovil Sour Cadbury

Cap of Liberty

Marnhull Mill


Sharp / Dual Purpose

(Dual purpose means they could also be used as cookers)  

Golden Ball

Kings Favourite                                

Symes Seedling

Tom Putt


Buttery Door


For further details, please go to www.dorsetcider.com

Dorset Cider Discoveries & Mysteries video

In the video accompanying this piece, Nick and Liz talk about some of their most exciting discoveries and touch on some persisting mysteries.

For example, the enigmatic Marlpits Late Bittersweet, which has come from a single tree at Marlpits Farm in West Milton near Bridport.

Nick thinks this produces a better single variety cider than the legendary Kingston Black (he thinks Golden Ball from Netherbury near Beaminster is also exceptional).

If Marlpits Late Bittersweet keeps on producing cider of superb quality, it may well end up being grown on a commercial scale. (January 20: I heard today there are plans to start growing it in Somerset, with a view to possible commercial production in a few years time).

And so the great Dorset cider revival will continue.

Note: I filmed and edited the video for Transition Vision’s Farming Channel. Transition Vision is a new online multi-channel local TV service covering Dorset, Somerset and Wiltshire.

It’s at http://www.transitionvision.tv and on Twitter @transvisiontv

Many videos can also be seen on Transition Vision’s You Tube channel

Click on this line to watch a video about Nick Poole and the early days of the West Milton Cider Club 

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2 Responses to 20 Dorset cider apples rediscovered

  1. Tim

    19/01/2011 at 6:55 PM

    Great news for all of us in Dorset, keep up the good work Liz and Nick.

  2. Brian Smith

    06/02/2011 at 10:59 AM

    We have an old cider apple tree in garden at Marnhull said to be a “Waggoner” does this ring a bell. Would be interested if you have any info.


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