What a lovely pear!

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The pears at Clayhanger this year really suffered for a late frost.

Reader Martin Dingle has been in touch with a real curiosity that’s made me wonder – and with autumn now well upon our shoulders, I think this is an interesting prompt for childhood and other memories of the season – of fruit picking, gathering and scrumping, and other natural treats that are found by the wayside.

In the course of keeping my 365daysofbiking journal, I’ve found many fruit tress growing wild, feral or in gardens across the area – they are far more common than one might expect and locally, pears grow wild on the banks of the new pond at Clayhanger and near Little Aston Forge, near Footherley.

I’d be interested in any reader contributions on this, or other related matters – what do you remember? Please comment here or mail me: BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com – thanks to Martin for a really interesting curiosity.

Hi Bob,

Have you ever heard of these or do you remember them from your past? I have an old farmhouse in Burntwood with what looks like a tiny pear tree in the front garden. As soon as my grandfather saw it he was overjoyed and said they were ‘Tettenhall pears’… he grew up in Clayhanger and fondly remembers scrumping these tiny pears from a garden near to the canal – presumably somewhere near ‘The Anchor’ pub? Just wondered if you had any recollection of such things in the Brownhills area?

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Pears are one of my favourite fruits. Image kindly supplied by Martin Dingle.

I have done a bit of research on these trees and they are supposedly now very rare, especially this far east of Tettenhall (Wolverhampton) itself. There is a known expert on such things who has recently confirmed our tree to be of the rare Tettenhall variety, going by the name of Paul Hand.

Tettenhall Dick is back from the brink – Birmingham Mail

THE future is no longer looking pear-shaped for Britain’s rarest fruit – Tettenhall Dick is back from the brink. Fruit fan Paul Hand has managed to save the small …

‘There is a variety of pear known as ‘Tettenhall Dick’, named after Tettenhall, originally found in the hamlet of Perton and dating to earlier than the 18th century. These small, dry pears are traditionally used for the making of perry. The Bees & Trees charity began a scheme to plant 2,000 Tettenhall Dick trees across the Midlands in a bid to save them, as very few of them existed any more. These trees were grafted from existing Tettenhall Dick trees and the scheme has proven to be a success with trees being planted in a variety of different locations. The variety is now part of the National Fruit Collection at Brodale.

Not too much info online about these, but interesting to me at least – perhaps some of your readers may know more?

I cooked some of ours this season and they are amazing as dessert pears, so now I know what they are I shall continue to do so. There are also links to Perry making (in Perry Barr!) so I might look into that also.

Cheers,
Martin

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A one familiar landmark is no more: but I think this might belie an interesting history.

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19 Responses to What a lovely pear!

  1. David Evans says:

    Hi Bob
    thanks for making me smile.. a fruity smile!
    kind regards
    David

  2. morturn says:

    I would imagine that if Tettenhall was originally found in the hamlet of Perton, then the place name Perton is possibly from the word pirige for “pear”.

    • Martin Dingle says:

      ‘Perton is a large village and civil parish located in Staffordshire, England. It lies to the south of Codsall, and to the west of the city of Wolverhampton. Perton is named such as a derivative of ‘Pear Town’ due to the number of pear trees that were once there.’

  3. david oakley says:

    Hi Bob,
    On the corner of Holly Lane and Castle Road there used to be an old, rather large detached house, with two pear trees in the garden, these were of ‘tets’ as we called them, short for Tetenhall, a tiny, hard pear which could be had for a penny a pound. The lady occupier kept a set of scales in the outhouse and looked forward to a busy autumn from the village kids. Adults did not share our enthusiasm for this particular fruit, but when we took them home, rather proudly, the sum product of our pocket-money for the week, we were greeted with “ Oh ah, Tetenhall Dicks, hard as bricks”, before they vanished back behind the newspaper.

  4. John Anslow says:

    During the 1950s, Dad’s old friend, Sam Dingley, lived in the house next door to The Red Lion (now the Boatmans Rest). It was a double-fronted, blue-brick house, as I recall, and there was a Tettenhall pear tree in the garden. Like any lad, I used to climb this tree to get at the fruit. The pears were small and hard, but quite sweet, and I ate them straight from the tree. I think most folks used to stew them and bottle them.

    There was another similar pear in the area called the Pelsall Pear. My brother, Paul, grafted some of this onto a Conference and it still produces fruit. When I ring him tonight, I’ll ask him for more details.

    • Martin Dingle says:

      I believe Sam Dingley may be a relative which might add another twist to my post. What would his approx. age have been in the 50’s please? I believe there were two generations of ‘Sam Dingley’….? My grandfather is Norman Dingle.

      • John Anslow says:

        Sam was born in 1922 so when I used to climb his tree he would have been in his mid thirties. His father, also a Samuel, was killed in a mining accident (I think) in 1926.
        My grandmother always used to refer to him as “Sammy Dingle”, even though he was always known as Dingley to us and in the official records. Tragically, he was killed in a road accident on Anglesey in 1978.

        • Martin Dingle says:

          My mother had given me almost the exact same details as you have just mentioned. Sam Snr broke his back in that mining accident I believe. I will speak to my parents and grandfather and reply again as there is definitely a family link here and we could well be talking about the very same tree (seems very likely). There is some hazy story about the ‘y’ on the end of the surname also.

    • Martin Dingle says:

      It turns out Sam Dingley Snr was the brother of my great, great grandfather.

  5. Ivor Sperring says:

    My grand parents live in Coppice Side and they had a Tettenhall Dick pear tree at the back of the house. They were really only edible when they were stewed with lots of sugar.

  6. Ivor Sperring says:

    Should be “lived in Coppice Side”

  7. aerreg says:

    we used to call them tets there was a very large tree at the farm near triangle and gave a good supply ithink in its later years it was owend by the glaze coach company there were other delights for our penny ore halfpenny there was alovely elderly couple the name escapes me they lived at 40 lichfield road brownhills they had a crab apple tree we would spend our half penny there for a treat the pigeon peas another treat rhubarb and sugar another on the subject of scrumping who remembers that plleading cry as you watched the scrumper chewing his ill gotten gains with rellish SAVE ME THE CORKLE thanks again for the memory god bless

  8. David Evans says:

    Hi Bob
    another local favourite fruit..jam..wine..was the damson variety called Little Diamonds, I believe Best damson jam ever!
    kind regards
    David

  9. aerreg says:

    hi david i remember its wild sister fruit the slo found in hedge row made good tiple for mom and dad slo gin that and elderberry wine and mock champane and home brewed wheat and potato folowed by home brewed ginger beer realy put a glow in the cheeks for adults only just a taste for the little uns thanks again for the memory god bless from an ode tea toteller

  10. John Anslow says:

    Just spoke to Paul who told me that there were two Pelsall Pear trees in the 1940s: one at Elm Cottage, our home, and the other in the garden of a cottage that used to stand opposite the junction of Mouse Hill with Foundry Lane.

    Dad felled the tree at Elm Cottage in the early 1950s as it was full of rot and he was afraid that someone might be injured or worse. (Tragically, a young girl had been killed by a falling tree branch in the garden of Elm Cottage in the autumn of 1936)

    Paul took his graft from a tree in Allens Lane that had itself been grafted onto different stock. (Presumably that graft came from the tree in Foundry Lane.) It has fruited well this year and, although the pears a barely bigger than a Tettenhall, they are sweeter and softer. He tells me that he is going to take cuttings and attempt to grow the Pelsall Pear once again on its own roots.

  11. jim says:

    There is a pear tree growing at the site of Slough cottage Brownhills
    the fruit are small, tough and a bit bitter but the tree still produces
    lots of fruit

    • Martin Dingle says:

      Thank you for letting me know!!! Try cooking them (peeled, blanched and then baked with a covering of brown sugar/syrup). Absolutely gorgeous, although a bit of a fiddle being so small. Seriously good though!

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