BBC News

Royal Leamington Spa pear tree 'lives on' via 100 saplings

image copyrightFrances Wilmot
image captionThe Cubbington pear tree, named after a village near Leamington Spa, was about 20ft (6m) tall and in spring was full of white blossom, Paul Labous said

An ancient pear tree felled to make way for the HS2 rail line "lives on" after 100 saplings were "grafted" from it.

Shuttleworth College, in Old Warden, Bedfordshire, propagated the Cubbington Pear in 2017, before it was cut down.

Paul Labous, lecturer in horticulture, said it was a "tragedy" the "beautiful" 250-year-old tree was taken down, but about 40 saplings have been planted.

The original, from Warwickshire, was voted the best tree in England in 2015 in a Woodland Trust poll.

media captionCubbington pear tree felled to make way for HS2

The "dearly-loved" tree, was a landmark for the Leamington Spa area, Mr Labous said.

In 2017, he propagated material and after about 18 months, his team succeeded in producing one tree.

Its DNA was checked to "ensure it was the actual tree and not a root stock", he said.

image copyrightBedford College
image captionPaul Labous was sad the original Cubbington Pear was cut, but said it would have cost "millions" to move the HS2 line around it

"From that tree we budded, which is a type of grafting, more trees over successive summers," he added.

"So we now have getting on for at least 100 and 30 to 40 planted in the local area - in vicarages, schools or playgrounds."

You may also be interested in:

Jack Taylor, lead campaigner for the Woodland Trust, said: "Ancient and veteran trees provide valuable habitat and soak up carbon, delivering benefits that saplings are unable to replicate for decades or centuries.

"Our hope is that wherever these saplings are planted, they are looked after and protected for generations to come and the fate of their worthy ancestor does not befall them."

Mr Labous said: "The tree lives on.

"In years to come there are going to be not just one tree, but many, so in a way that bit is a good news story, but it's still a tragedy that it had to be cut down in the first place."

Find BBC News: East of England on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. If you have a story suggestion email

Related Topics

  • Horticulture
  • Nature
  • Trees
  • Royal Leamington Spa
  • Woodland Trust
  • HS2
  • Old Warden

More on this story

  • An award-winning pear tree has been felled to make way for HS2