Within a few seconds on Saturday 4th May a part of the pre-history of Brentham was suddenly gone. At about 5.20pm, in the allotments between Brunner Road and Brentham Way there was a terrific vibration as one of the huge Brentham Oaks, around 350 years old, crashed to the ground. Its massive canopy fell into several of the neighbouring gardens, a poplar tree and damaging sheds.
The owners of the allotment, Alex and Neil Sibley explained that it had been raining, there were gusting winds, and some of the now exposed roots appear to have rotted. Only a few minutes earlier their children were playing on a swing hanging from one of the branches. Luckily they had gone back into their house on Woodfield Crescent when the tree fell, thus avoiding what could have been a terrible tragedy.
This is how the tree looked in February 2018.
Below is a video of the giant oak minutes before it fell, shown courtesy of Anita Sharda and Tim Sands, whose house overlooked the tree.
Back in 2005 Martin Mortimore interviewed John Bowman, sadly no longer with us, who at that time owned the allotment. The pleasure that the tree brought John is clear in the short film clip below.
The tree is a great loss to Brentham.
Brentham Oak’s last dance was captured on video ten minutes before it was blown down on Saturday the 4th May19. I did not anticipate that outcome as I filmed its canopy swirling in the strong winds.
It was sad to see the beautiful, strong and mighty Oak fall. For the last 28 years I could see it from my dining room window and admired its resilience and beauty. It had stood through time and survived many storms. My daughter would often photograph the oak tree against the beautiful sunrises and sunsets in different seasons, it stood tall and proud against the landscape. It contributed to air quality and reduced noise pollution from the A40. Perhaps we should consider replacing the fallen Oak trees with new oak saplings for the future generations and the environment.
An ecosystem within itself to many creatures. I watched earlier this year as the Crow family moved in for their annual visit. They would each year build the nest from scratch and raise their young. It was home to the great spotted woodpecker seen foraging for insect prey on the ridged oak bark and often producing sounds that could be heard at some distance. Occasionally some nights we could hear Little owl singing and named it the Brentham Owl. The parakeets would stop over mid flight on the oak branches as they decided where to fly to next. The magpies and the jackdaws would fight over territory. The squirrels kept themselves busy hiding the acorns in my garden lawn, hence the number of little oak saplings I occasionally came across. The Oak tree had many a tale to tell and will be greatly missed.
Lovely piece Anita about your connection to that majestic oak tree. Sorely missed by many I am sure. Dorothea
This majestic tree was one of two great oaks that marked the original field boundaries before Brentham was built and which graced this particular group of allotments. The other was almost entirely destroyed in high winds during the 1990s. All that remains of that one now is a 20ft stump completely covered in ivy and visible from the path between Brunner and Brentham Way. These great oaks are perhaps now coming to the end of their natural lives as all living things must. Let’s hope the last remaining ‘giant’ on Ludlow/Denison green (symbol of Brentham itself) has many years of life yet left. It’s hard not to feel emotional about the loss of these trees – like losing a familiar friend.