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2020 / 2021 Edition

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Ancient oak saved from the chop!

Ancient oak tree

One of the country’s oldest trees saved from the saw thanks to vigilance of Wickwar quarry manager

ONE of the largest and oldest oak trees in Britain has been saved from being ‘chopped’ by CEMEX’s Wickwar Quarry manager, Frank Hogg. The tree, which has a girth of 10.5m, is comparable in size to the famous Major Oak in Sherwood Forest, making it between 800 and 1,000 years old. It could have sprouted from its acorn before the Battle of Hastings on land now owned by CEMEX UK.

Electricity company Western Power Distribution had been due to undertake a major pruning and cutting of the canopy to release power lines that run through the top of the tree, but Mr Hogg, realizing its importance, contacted the tree-protection officer at South Gloucestershire Council to try to find an alternative solution.

‘This tree is part of our heritage and should be preserved for future generations,’ said Mr Hogg. ‘My granddaughter Edith, now eight years old, first saw the tree about three years ago. She was fascinated by it and would run in and out of the big hole at the base, imagining fairies living in there.’

During the last century the tree has suffered some fairly severe treatment. Electricity lines were first laid in 1938 when the then landowners tried to burn down the tree, and in the 1970s it was severely cut back once again to accommodate the power lines.

‘Trees such as this are part of our natural heritage and provide a living link to our past,’ said Jim Mullholland, training and technical officer for the Ancient Tree Forum. ‘It is clearly a nationally valuable tree and needs to be cherished and protected. It may have been lost had it not been for the good work of Frank, who recognized its importance and sought to protect it.’

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