Cubbington Pear Tree

The Cubbington Pear Tree was a wild pear tree located near Cubbington in Warwickshire, England. Around 250 years old, it was the second largest wild pear tree in the country and a noted local landmark. In 2015 the tree was voted England's Tree of the Year. A Parliamentary petition was launched in September 2020 to save the tree from being cut down for HS2 and a month later had over 20,000 signatures triggering an official government response. It was felled as part of the High Speed 2 railway development on 20 October 2020.[1][2]

Cubbington Pear Tree
Cubbington pear tree.jpg
The Cubbington Pear Tree in June 2015
SpeciesEuropean wild pear (Pyrus communis var. communis)
LocationCubbington, Warwickshire, England
Coordinates52°18′41″N 1°29′01″W / 52.3113°N 1.4836°W / 52.3113; -1.4836Coordinates: 52°18′41″N 1°29′01″W / 52.3113°N 1.4836°W / 52.3113; -1.4836
Date seededcirca 1760
Date felled20 October 2020

DescriptionEdit

The Cubbington Pear Tree was identified as a specimen of Pyrus communis var. communis, and is listed as such in the Champion Tree Register.[3] It is located on the top of a hill near to South Cubbington Wood, Cubbington.[4][5] The tree sat on private land but near to a public footpath from which it was visible.[6] Thought to be around 250 years old, the Cubbington Pear Tree may have been the United Kingdom's oldest wild pear tree.[5][6] The tree was the second largest wild pear tree in the country, measuring some 3.78 metres (12.4 ft) in girth.[5][6] Despite its age the tree continued to blossom and bear fruit until the end of its life.[7] The tree was entered onto the Tree Register of the British Isle as a national champion (the oldest or largest known specimen of a particular species).[6]

HS2Edit

In 2011 the Cubbington Pear Tree was identified as under threat from the proposed High Speed 2 (HS2) Phase 1 railway line between London and Birmingham, becoming one of 20 pear trees to be threatened by the scheme.[5][6][8] An expert from Warwickshire Museum visited the site to record and assess the tree.[6] Representatives from HS2 said that the tree cannot be relocated as the lower trunk is hollow. They instead proposed to take cuttings from the tree and plant seedlings from it nearby as a replacement. The tree trunk was to be placed in the South Cubbington Wood to form a habitat for insects, fungi and plants.[9]

The removal of the tree was opposed by the Cubbington Action Group who instead proposed that this section of the line be tunnelled beneath the tree.[5][9] A petition in support of this proposal was sent to the HS2 Parliamentary select committee, but the scheme was rejected on economic grounds, with an estimated cost of £46 million.[9][10] In preparation for its removal the Shuttleworth College successfully took cuttings from the Cubbington Pear Tree by September 2017.[10] The Cubbington Action Group led a series of walks to view the tree in April and May 2018 to see it in bloom for the "last time".[11] Preliminary works for HS2 in this area had commenced by May 2018.[12]

In October 2019, local residents set up a protest encampment in South Cubbington Wood to protect the Cubbington Pear Tree and other nearby woodland.[13] A parliamentary petition was launched in September 2020 and received 20,000 signatures of support. A formal response from the Department for Transport stated "HS2 Ltd explored all possible options to avoid removing the tree, but due to its age and condition, removal cannot be avoided" and that 40 new trees had been grown from cuttings from the pear, to be grown locally. They also stated that the stump and roots of the tree would be relocated to allow it an opportunity to regrow. The tree was cut down on 20 October 2020.[14] Some of the wood from the tree was donated to a local woodworker.[15]

Tree of the YearEdit

The Cubbington Pear Tree was entered into the English Tree of the Year competition in 2015 along with more than 200 others.[9] It was selected by the competition's panel of experts for the 10-strong shortlist for the public vote.[5] It won the competition having garnered more than 10,000 votes and beating famous trees such as the Ankerwycke Yew in Berkshire, the Boscobel Oak in Shropshire and the Glastonbury Thorn in Somerset.[9][8] It was subsequently described by the Warwickshire Wildlife Trust as the "poster-boy for all the trees along the route of HS2 ... that are under threat from the project".[16]

The tree was subsequently entered into the 2016 European Tree of the Year competition where it came 8th out of 15 entries with 7,858 votes.[17][18]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Award-winning pear tree felled to make way for HS2". Forestry Journal. Retrieved 30 January 2021.
  2. ^ Correspondent, Neil Johnston, Midlands. "Tree of the year felled to clear way for HS2 link". ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved 30 January 2021.
  3. ^ "Champion Trees of the UK". www.treeregister.org.
  4. ^ "The Cubbington Pear Tree". European Tree of the Year. Retrieved 10 October 2018.
  5. ^ a b c d e f Gilbert, Simon (28 September 2015). "HS2-threatened ancient pear tree up for accolade". Coventry Telegraph. Retrieved 10 October 2018.
  6. ^ a b c d e f "A champion pear tree is identified on the HS2 route". BBC Coventry and Warwickshire. 17 January 2011. Retrieved 10 October 2018.
  7. ^ "DNA cloning not for pear tree HS2 bosses told". Leamington Observer. 7 May 2014. Retrieved 10 October 2018.
  8. ^ a b "HS2 route tree voted nation's favourite". BBC News. 8 November 2015. Retrieved 10 October 2018.
  9. ^ a b c d e Kennedy, Maev (8 November 2015). "Ancient pear tree in path of HS2 rail route wins Woodland Trust prize". The Guardian. Retrieved 10 October 2018.
  10. ^ a b Kearns, Laura (28 September 2017). "Pear tree which is set to be destroyed by HS2 will live on in sapling". Leamington Observer. Retrieved 10 October 2018.
  11. ^ Kearns, Laura (26 April 2018). "Take a 'last look' at Cubbington's pear tree in bloom". Leamington Observer. Retrieved 10 October 2018.
  12. ^ Thompson, Catherine (16 May 2018). "HS2 chiefs slammed after claims trees cut down at wildlife haven during nesting season". Leamington Observer. Retrieved 16 October 2018.
  13. ^ "Campaigners aim to protect ancient woodland by setting up camp". Leamington Observer.
  14. ^ Murray, Jessica (20 October 2020). "Former tree of the year felled in Warwickshire to make way for HS2". The Guardian. Retrieved 20 October 2020.
  15. ^ "What's happened to the remains of our much-loved Cubbington pear tree - and wood from others trees chopped down by HS2 around Leamington and Kenilworth?". www.leamingtoncourier.co.uk. Retrieved 27 December 2020.
  16. ^ "Pear Tree in line of HS2 beats Magna Carta Yew & Tolpuddle Sycamore to Tree of the Year title". Warwickshire Wildlife Trust. Archived from the original on 22 November 2018. Retrieved 10 October 2018.
  17. ^ "England's Tree of the Year, Cubbington pear, to be cut down for HS2". Daily Telegraph. 9 November 2015. Retrieved 10 October 2018.
  18. ^ "European Tree of the Year 2016". Retrieved 10 October 2018.