Workmen in Queen Square continue to lay an improved and newly surfaced pathway around Queen Square. This popular tree-studded mini-park in the middle of a traffic (square) roundabout is currently fenced off while B&NES lavishes £100,000 upon its refurbishment.
Money to pay for new pathways and lawns, improved areas for Petanque, new benches and restored entrance gateways on the east and west sides.
l have mentioned before the only real casualty of this renovation is a European ‘Fastigiata’ hornbeam which is going to be felled.
B&NES say the loss of this one tree will be made good.
A Council spokesman has now 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).’
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 threatened 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 and maybe even lock the gates at night – as is done at Parade Gardens?
Certainly proper fencing is needed around each tree.
As to the list of reasons for felling the tree, the opening of side gates has 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.
I am sure 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 tree facing the axe – 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.
Maybe the timber from this tree – whose only ‘sin’ is being planted in the ‘wrong’ place – could be kept for a useful purpose and used as a memorial to the fact this healthy specimen had to make way for Petanque, ‘peep views’ and surveillance – though by whom exactly l am not sure.
There is no escape. If it’s not dog teeth it’s the teeth of a powered saw that is going to end the life of this particular Queen Square tree. This is one ‘Fall’ it won’t recover from.