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The English Apple Man


7th Apr 2023 - Farewell to a great character

A Tribute to Peter Charles Hill



The fruit industry recently lost one of its greatest characters when Peter Hill passed away peacefully at Rivermere Care home Sevenoaks on 1st February 2023.


Peter was a huge influence in the top fruit industry and particularly the Bramley apple and processing sector.


Born in October 1930 at Spye Park Estate near Chippenham in Wiltshire where his parents worked in service to the owner Captain

Spicer with whom Peters father Charles had served in the Horse Guards in World War 1 on the front line in Belgium


Peter grew up on the estate and became a keen cyclist and active member of The Chippenham Wheelers club, competing in many time trials and long distance races.


Below: left. Spye Park in 1904 and right. Peter Hill in his cycling pomp with Chippenham Wheelers




After leaving school his first job was as an apprentice in a local greengrocers shop. At the end of the year the owner handed Peter his pay and told him that his services were no longer required


Undaunted, he looked further a field finding a job working for a company in London importing various food products


His breakthrough came when he applied for a job at Tunnel Refineries in Greenwich in 1958. Initially starting as assistant to the MD he worked through the ranks to become commercial director.


Tunnel Refineries was a glucose refinery next to the River Thames processing thousands of tonnes of maize and wheat into glucose , starches and syrups which were then sold and distributed to the food and drinks industry.


Peter married Aileen in Leigh-on-Sea in August 1958 and had two sons Graham and Andrew.


Their first home was a flat in Blackheath, 'there then followed moves to Cudham, Longfield and Wateringbury before settling in Marden in 1970 .


In 1970 the family moved to Oakleigh in Marden where Graham and Andrew became interested in riding, taking lessons at High Lees riding school near Paddock Wood where the instructor was Christine Pemble wife of fruit grower Richard Pemble.


Having learnt to ride they had ponies competing in horse shows in the South East. Peter purchased a full set of show jumps which were rented out to horse shows and Peter qualified as a course builder such that he could build the courses.


Peter was soon organising three annual horse shows in Marden raising funds for local charities and was also a committee member and later Chairman of the Malling Horse Show. He 'course built' at several other horse shows.


During this time Peter joined Malling Round Table throwing himself into fund raising activities which was followed by membership of the 41 club.


Andrew joined the Met police where he served for 30 years, the last 15 of which were in the mounted branch, during which time he received a commendation for arresting an armed robber whilst on horse back.


Graham went to Shuttleworth Agricultural College from where he moved on to becoming an agro chemical representative.


The ultimate link to Peter's future and second career, came in 1979 when Newtime Foods in Hastings, desperate for apples to make mincemeat and knowing that Peter lived in Kent asked him if he could source 10 tons of apples in July


Graham was at the time working for the Tipples family in Marden. 10 tons of Grenadier were picked into bushel boxes and this became the first load.


Peter then made contact with every Tunnel customer that he knew used apples. The trading had commenced and A & P Hill Fruit was formed with Aileen managing the accounts.


Before computers and mobile phones, Peter became known by the local farmers as 'the after tea man' as the only time he could communicate with the growers.


1n 1988 Peter retired from Tunnel having served the company well for 30 years . At the age of 58 he threw himself into the fruit industry .


The next step


Now fully committed to A & P Hill, the company grew and became very involved, particularly in the sale of Bramley to the processing industry both in England and Northern Ireland


The sale of Class 1 apples was now on the agenda and to help growers move from selling to the wholesale markets into the supermarkets, Marden Gowers Association was formed with 27 members mainly from the Weald. Peter's long friendship with James Nicholls at Checkers Growers Ltd resulted in Chequers/MGA formed in 1998 supplying their fruit to HGF.


Below: Peter Hill on his 90th Birthday


Peter continued to work into his late 80's. In fact he only vacated his place in the A&P Hill office after his 90th Birthday


Peter was a member of many institutions involving farming, equestrian, football and cricket and a member of The Worshipful Company of Fruiterers.


As a family they would spend two weeks a year in the summer in Portugal and then spent many happy holidays in Menorca


It was in Menorca that Peter and Aileen purchased an apartment where they were actually able to relax during the summer months visited by family and friends


Graham recounts: Of course Menorca had a cricket team and father made sure he was there when the Nat West touring team visited the Island.







Graham reflects, "nearly forgot to add that parents went to South Africa on numerous occasions in the 90 s . This was as a holiday where during the day mother was left at the hotel and father would charge around packhouses buying fruit to service requirements in the summer months for the peeling industry back home. Wayne Mudge of Cape Five was a main supplier together with Two A Day, Kromco and the Dutoit group




Graham remembers, "in the winter months parents would holiday in The Gambia where they be friended a family whom they sponsored the children through schooling . This continued until recently!


Peter always kept busy and embraced many other activities and memberships"


Member of Marden Hockey and cricket club and became known as one of there most ardent supporters


Chairman of Malling horse show society which held a two day show at the County show ground


Chairman of the Marden Conservative Association for several years and an active fund raiser


Member of the Worshipful Company of Fruiterers


Member of The Marden Fruit Show Society, now The National Fruit Show Society which was originally held in Marden with the company providing sponsorship to the current day


Member of the Farmers Club in London


Member of Canterbury Cricket club


Member of the Kent County show association


Season ticket holder at Gillingham Football club attending most home matches as well as supporting Tonbridge FC so that there was always a match to watch on a Saturday



Below: Peter Hill at a Fruiterer's Event


The family have received many Condolences from fruit growers and associates, just some listed below


James Simpson MD ASL - fully appreciated his whirlwind approach to life.


Adrian Scripps - in memory of a wonderful friend and so full of enthusiasm for every thing that he entered into (parents both went out for many evening meals with Adrian and Jill )


Richard Carpenter - his contribution to the industry was immense . In particular enabling us to sell Bramleys into the Irish market place .


Nigel Bardsley -since 1984 Peter was part of my fruit growing life and I appreciated his knowledge. Peter loved his cricket and was always watching the game at Marden . He sponsored a prize for the first 5 wickets and first hundred which was a great incentive to the players .


"We also spent many happy times at the Farmers club after Livery functions . A great supporter of the Fruiterers livery and their charities


Frank Tipples - Marden will be a much quieter but poorer place following the loss of Peter


Mark Ensoll NFU -Peter was a very interesting man and did a huge amount of good work for the English Apple Industry


Sean Charlton - They do not make them like that any more !




Bob Sancto Marden Conservatives - A staunch conservative supporter and chairman for many years . Peter helped with all charitable events. He confronted several serious illnesses later in life with his usual fortitude and humour . A generous man who new his apples from his pears !


Louise Day - such a dynamic character full of enthusiasm


Sarah Calcutt National Fruit show - such a beloved part of the fruit industry and one of the old school characters


And now in 2023


Today the company is managed by Graham Hill and Steven Packer, now trading as Hill Fresh Fruit Ltd and Apple Logistics Ltd. The business has grown over the years and has become a major player in the fruit processing industry, trading in apples , pears and soft fruit . With a fleet of lorries providing transport of fruit from farms to packhouses as well as delivering fruit to factories across the country.


Peter led a very full, productive and fast paced life 'with Aileen as his support, A generous, hardworking, enthusiastic and knowledgeable man who will be missed by many.


To quote one condolence message received ' They don't make them like that anymore '.


Peter was a major influence on the Bramley industry for 40+years, and many of those growers will be able to pay tribute to him at his Memorial Service at St Michael & All Angels Church, Marden Kent on 21st April at 2pm followed by a reception at Marden Cricket Club



Link to: Tribute to Peter Hill Much Loved




That is all for this week, next week we will look at the fruit bud development in our Apple & Pear orchards


Take care


The English Apple Man