Conference, with its distinctive long, tapering shape, is the most popular pear grown in Britain by a long measure, in commercial orchards and domestic gardens.
Unlike most fruit varieties, which have occurred as chance crosses, this pear was bred by Thomas Francis Rivers at his family nursery at Sawbridgeworth in Hertfordshire. He first announced it to the public at a ‘Pear Congress’ in 1885, which had been advertised as a ‘Pear Conference’, and which is the name he plumped for – although it seems our best-known pear could just as easily have been called Congress. The meeting was a bit of a wash-out, partly because it rained throughout the two-day event, and partly because pears did not summon the same interest in the public as apples.
It remains true today, perhaps for the simple reason that pears will not store so easily, although our growers have considerable success with long stored pears. Conference, however, was an immediate success, hailed for its taste, texture and keeping abilities, and was awarded a first-class certificate.
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