Well the deed has been done. I am informed the men with a chainsaw turned up in Queen Square before nine this morning (Wednesday, November 26th) to fell the European ‘Fastigiate’ hornbeam.
The one tree on the historic central lawn to literally fall victim to the £100,000 B&NES has lavished on refurbishing this well-loved little ‘park’ in the centre of town.
By now the chunks of freshly felled tree have been delivered to the Bath Approach Golf
Course for the public to pick over the spoils and get some Yule logs for free.
It’s a sad end for a tree that was not dangerous or diseased but just happened to be in the wrong place.
Workmen in Queen Square have continue to lay an improved and newly surfaced pathway around the lawn. It’s re-opening next Tuesday – December 2nd. Any returning will probably come in the spring.
The cash injection also pays for improved areas for Petanque and new benches. I don’t know why l thought we were getting new gates on the East and West sides but l must have misinterpreted the Council press release and its ‘new gateways.’
As l have mentioned the only real casualty of this renovation has been the
B&NES say the loss of this one tree will be made good.
A Council spokesman told me : ‘By removing the tree and opening the side gates, the upper area of the square will be lighter, more attractive and better used by the public which will improve vision, public surveillance and policing of the area.
Its removal will also provide more space for events in the park (such as the very successful Petanque event).’ Has the tree been sacrificed just to make more room for commercial events?
I caught up with Dave Dixon – Deputy Leader of the Council – this morning.
Followers of this Museum will know we have frequently covered the effects of anti-social behaviour in the Square and featured the damage that has been done.
It would appear that the same dog has been seen causing serious damage to the bark of many of the trees in Queen Square. The Council tried wrapping fencing around the trunks but this has not deterred the vandalism.
It is understood some form of dog repellent paint will now be tried but the Council spokesman added:
‘We are also exploring a range of options for protecting the tree stock in Queen Square from anti-social behaviour and are keen to develop a permanent solution to this problem as soon as possible.’
One person who will be happy to see a permanent solution to the issue of tree damage is local resident Terry Basson who plays Petanque in Queen Square.
I asked him for his opinion regarding the felled tree.
Terry said its removal would certainly bring some light to this shaded corner.
‘I think they want to do this because of the drunks who sit in the darker end hiding away. This part of the park is mostly in shadow.’
Terry has campaigned now for months to get proper fencing erected around each tree in the Square.
‘I would sacrifice one tree if l thought they (B&NES) were going to properly protect the remainder.’
Meanwhile despite signs warning of a £100 fine for letting your dog off the lead this person appears to return frequently and more damage is being done.
I am hearing stories of organised dog fights in the Bath area and it would seem that chewing bark is a good way of strengthening the animal’s jaws.
Why, l wonder do they not ban dogs altogether from this tiny area?
Certainly proper fencing is needed around each tree.
As to the list of reasons for felling the tree, the opening of side gateways had nothing to do with letting the tree stay or go. The square used to have a gate on each side.
Of course, originally John Wood did not design this area to be softened and secluded by trees and surrounded by fences and gates. It was a giant promenading space where Bath’s parading spa visitors could deliberately show off and be seen.
The original 70 foot hight obelisk was surrounded by a lovely pool of reflecting water. Bath’s own mini Washington Monument.
We use the area for a different purpose today. It’s a green island in a sea of traffic.
As to opening up the surrounding Georgian architecture l think people are attracted by the fact the Square is screened and shaded and an oasis from reality.
Every tree affects the grass beneath it.
Go into Abbey Green and see how each year they turf underneath the giant plane tree and then we watch the grass die and be replaced again.
Don’t waste your money B&NES.
I have already called for some sort of Friends of Queen Square.
It would be good to work on something that might make the people who live and work around this historic site more aware of what is in their midst and, hopefully, want to care more about its future.
As we have heard B&NES would love some sort of trust to take over its long-term care. More taxpayer’s cash saved!
In the meantime – returning to the axed tree – how ironic that in this city so proud of its classical past, it would seem the wood from the European Hornbeam is so solid it was reportedly used by the ancient Romans to make chariots, as well as being used by the American pioneers to make yokes for their oxen.
This ‘Fall’ the Queen Square hornbeam fell.