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Oswaldtwistle - Rhyddings Park (Lancashire)
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Thanks to Vicky for this photograph of a Sequoiadendron gigantuem in Lancashire.

Vicky says, "The tree is much loved by the people of the town and the park is a conservation area. It was given to the people of Oswaldtwistle by its twin town Falkenberg in Sweden and was planted in Rhyddings Park on 1st December 1973 by the Oswaldtwistle Civic Society."

This looks like a particularly fine specimen and what a fabulous way of celebrating the twinning of the towns.

* * * Update - March 2016 * * *
Vicky wrote to say that the Giant Sequoia "is under threat due to a regeneration project in the park and locals are desperately trying to save it. Due to a petition with 2000 signatures the plans have been put on hold and the number of trees to be felled has reduced."

* * * Update - June 2016 * * *
Fate of Rhyddings Park giant redwood to be settled

A £2 million redevelopment project threatened this Giant Redwood with the chop simply to allow a market cross to be seen by someone standing at the gates rather than by walking a few yards to one side.

A report by the Acting Head of Community Services, using some comments from a council appointed arboriculturalist consultant, said that there would have to be an amendment to the proposed landscape design approved by the National Heritage Lottery Board to allow the tree to remain.

Since there are obviously no sensible reasons for doing away with the tree, in efforts to justify the original plan the report has come up with some points, many of which are laughably ludicrous.

Here are the summarised points of the report, and my comments:
(i) The tree is in good health for its age and for its species.
Agreed, although not sure what age has to do with it, since it is actually quite juvenile for its species. They can live for around 3,000 years, due primarily to extreme disease resistance.
(ii) The tree currently is 50 feet tall.
(iii) If left in place the tree can be expected to grow to 78 ft. in 25 years, 106 ft. in 50 years and 161 ft. in 100 years.
Well yes, the fact that it will be a large tree should be seen as a benefit, it will become a lovely landmark that can be seen for miles around. The estimation of the height after 100 year's growth is a little optimistic though. The best example is a pair in the New Forest, the tallest we've seen in the U.K., that have taken about 160 years to grow around 160 feet in height.
(iv) Because of its size the tree cannot be transplanted and moved to another location.
So let's leave it where it is, no need to move it, it's in a perfect location and looks a darn sight more attractive than a sandstone market cross. There is room for both, what is the obsessive need to see a market cross from the gates rather than a few yards to the left or right of the gate? Does anyone genuinely feel they lose out because of this?
(v) The large, lowest branch on the tree should be removed because due to its size and weight, and the presence of the occluded wound at its base there is a probability of it failing.
Why is this seen as a problem? A couple of hour's work for a tree specialist one morning and it's sorted, no need for this to be seen as a problem justifying the original plan.
(vi) Due to its location in a parkland setting, there is a possibility of the tree being infected with honey fungus.
Seriously? Why bother ever planting anything because all plants could "possibly" become infected with something! As it happens, Sequoia are extremely resistant to pathogens, the reason honey fungus is mentioned is because it is one of the very few things known to affect them, and even that is quite rare.
(vii) An amendment to the proposed landscape design approved by the National Heritage Lottery Board would be required to allow the tree to remain in place. This would require a redesign of the plan and any additional costs to be quantified.
Again, seriously? Are you really telling us that it's a huge expense to change the plan and leave the sandstone obelisk where it is, or to change the new location to somewhere other than where the tree currently sits? Is someone trying to pull a fast one here, or is someone trying to milk the situation?
(viii) The risk of a lightning strike and the levels of anxiety would increase if the tree was allowed to reach maturity (160 feet approx.), because it is situated in an urban, residential context.
Poppycock. The tree is in a park. Lots of parks have tall trees, many parks have Sequoia trees. Point me in the direction of someone who feels "anxious" about that. Sometimes trees get hit by lightning. You know what? I wouldn't mind betting if someone had a house a few hundred yards away from a tall tree they would think that if there is going to be a powerful lightning strike in the area, they would prefer that it hit a tall tree rather than the roof of the house in which they're living. There are plenty of large Sequoia trees sitting quite happily in people's modest residential gardens or on roadside verges. Many can be found in the Locations section of this website.
(ix) Should the tree be removed in line with the proposed landscape plan, a replacement tree of approximately 33 ft. in height (two thirds of the size of the existing tree) could be purchased and planted in a more appropriate location in the Park.
Just leave the original tree where it is, it's not rocket science.

Furthermore the report states: "Delivering the landscape plan agreed by the National Heritage Lottery Board (including the removal of the tree) would incur no additional project costs. Removing the tree and replanting a replacement tree in a more appropriate location in the park (as outlined in the arboricultural consultantís report) would require an additional £8,250 of funding to be found."

Delivering the existing plan includes the cost of the removal of the tree, so it is a little ingenuous to imply that an alternate plan of replacing it with another Sequoia elsewhere, would incur the additional cost of removing the existing tree. That cost has already been accounted for. Furthermore, where the heck does the figure of over £8,000 for the cost of a new tree originate? Does it arrive in a gold lined case?! Wait a minute, does someone organising this charade "know someone" that has one for sale? I smell a rat and a brown envelope here. I could supply one for nothing, admittedly not 33 feet tall but then again one would not start out with a Sequoia of that height. It's not sensible or practical.

The report highlights the "need to build a retaining wall capable of supporting the weight of a tree" at a cost of £10,000.
Really? How utterly bizarre, what purpose would a "retaining" wall fulfil? Why does it need to support the weight of the tree? The tree supports its own weight as they have done for millions of years. It would be good to hear the explanation as to why this wall is needed to support a Sequoia, a tree that is in fact one of the most stable trees one can find anywhere in the world.

It goes on to say that the council would have to pay money to keep the tree "safe" and disease free, and repairing the retaining wall. Also that the implications of the risk associated with managing a tree like this will increase, due to its proximity to footpaths, passing pedestrian and vehicular traffic and its proximity to properties on Park Lane and Rhyddings Street.
More lame excuses. Are we to dispose of any tree that is within 50 yards of any road or path,
or in a park where {SHOCK, HORROR} people might walk past? The minor amounts of money used in the maintenance of park trees over the years pales into insignificance compared to the vast sums wasted on this ridiculous escapade.

* * * Update - July 2016 * * *
Rhyddings Park giant redwood could be SAVED from axe

"Hyndburn Council voted in favour of retaining the 50ft tree in Oswaldtwistle and will make the recommendation to a cabinet meeting next week where the final decision will be made. Eight councillors voted in favour of the proposal with five against and 17 abstaining."

* * * Further Update - July 2016 * * *
Campaigners defeated in battle to save giant Rhyddings Park tree

At a cabinet meeting councillors voted to remove the tree from the park.

This was against the wishes of many local people who joined a campaign to try to save the tree.

Well, you couldn't make it up could you? A superb tree that would become a landmark the envy of many parks across the country, placed in a perfect location as part of a twinning ceremony some forty-odd years ago, loved by residents and in perfect health, and yet now I believe some obstinate group of bureaucrats have decided they want to follow a plan to chop the tree down and replace it with the sandstone obelisk wanted by pretty much nobody. How utterly pathetic. And yet actually so typical of the actions of those who are meant to be looking after the interests of the people. I expect it's all about the money and prestige, getting some lottery funding to supposedly make the place look like it was many years ago, regardless of the damage to the present.

Bizarrely, one of the reasons for removing the tree and putting the sandstone cross in that position is so that the view from the park will be as it was years ago, and yet the surroundings have changed too much for that to ever happen. Are they going to rebuild the Mill and the smelly chimneys too? Take a look at the drawings of the monument as it was and then ask yourself would a sandstone obelisk really look better than a living tree? Remember also that the planting of the tree marked something of interest, the ceremony of the twinning of two towns, not that we need a reason to save a magnificent tree from destruction.

Bear in mind also that the sandstone monument was erected in 1909 when the park was inherited from the Victorian owner and it is not contemporary with the original grounds and house (built in 1853, ironically the year that Giant Sequoia were discovered). Given that the grounds were Victorian, it would certainly have been more appropriate to have had other Sequoia trees planted at the time since the Victorians were noted for using these in their landscapes.

A touch of irony is the fact that large welcome boards are to be erected showing interesting features in the park which, if this plan goes ahead, would not include an incredibly fascinating tree, one that could live for thousands of years, grow to landmark size, soaking up massive amounts CO2 in the process. It is interesting that unlike this plan, most major gardens that have Sequoia at the entrance use it as a major feature. Have a look at this one at Somerleyton . Imagine the joy that children of one hundred year's time will experience when they find something unusual like this, (and the opportunities for history lessons it will inspire), rather than just some worn out seating and paving, and a dull boring old sandstone oblelisk.

* * * Update - September 2016 * * *
Rhyddings Park 'Big Red' tree chopped down

"The tree which moves some to tears of joy is in the eyes of others only a green thing that stands in the way."
William Blake (1757 - 1827)

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