The Rivers Nursery site has had a continuous history of cultivation of horticultural material stretching back to the seventeenth century.
Thomas Rivers, born at Sawbridgeworth in 1798, was responsible for consolidating the reputation of the nursery that his grandfather founded. Although renowned for rose culture, Thomas Rivers major interest was fruit production and the breeding and introduction of new varieties, particularly during the period between 1850 and 1875.
He was responsible for the introduction of 31 peach and 16 nectarine varieties for glasshouse production, over 20 plum varieties, 6 pears and various apricots, cherries, raspberries and strawberries. He remains famous for his plums today.
Unfortunately, the nursery closed towards the end of the 1980s. The Friends of Rivers Nursery Orchard is a Rural Enterprise Project involving local people who are interested in this site. Currently work is being carried out which will :
- Bring the orchard back into production and develop a Community Orchard .
- Improve the meadow areas for wildlife.
- Develop the site as a community and educational resource for local people.
The Rivers Nursery site is private land owned by East Hertfordshire District Council. Access to the site for activities organised by the Friends of Rivers Orchard is by invitation of the District Council as landowner, and no public rights of access are implied.