Fell Swoops

Stephen and I have been discussing this tree for some time (yeah, we’re tragic that way…) From the bark and shape, I’m guessing a plane, but whatever it is the poor old thing isn’t well, and clearly hasn’t been for some time.

I confess to a soft spot for this odd-shaped poorly-chap. Perhaps they’d hoped it would spring back into life after a bit of extreme pollarding, but when it didn’t, I assumed that it hadn’t been felled because it was a good perch for wildlife.

But Stephen, going for a little stroll to find out what the bits of the park that have been reopened (I know – not as many as they should be) are looking like (not bad, apparently – the flower gardens are fine, save for a couple of grass patches that need reseeding from where the jumps were, though the tennis courts are not currently tennis courts; it would seem the high wire fences were replaced with lower ones for some kind of exercise area) noticed that the poor old thing has had its ‘V’cut off.

I can only assume they’re felling by degrees – that Royal Parks can’t be seen to cut anything down during the Olympics so they’re doing it a bit at a time.

The mad thing is that this is up at the dingly-dell bit at the top – near, but not affecting the cross-country. If this tree needed felling it wasn’t anything to do with the games (unless the ‘V’ bit was considered to be offensive to the French or something…) It’s just a poor, sick old tree.

Perhaps they’ll save it for wildlife – or put it out of its misery. But I’m willing to bet that it’s not a victim of the Olympics. Maybe they could cut slices off it like salami and sell them for funky table tops.

the attachments to this post:

V shaped tree stephen. 2jpg
V shaped tree stephen. 2jpg

V shaped tree stephen
V shaped tree stephen

35 Comments to “Fell Swoops”

  1. Andrina says:

    Not sure anyone would want slices from a poor dead plane tree – but they might! When the 1987 Hurricane felled thousands of trees it included The Tree of Heaven in Waterside Gardens Crayford (it was replaced) We believe someone sold the wood (hard trees to find) as about a year afterwards we found someone who had bought some of the timber and one of the pieces he made from it was a cheese board. Out of pure sentimentality – we originally come from Crayford – I bought it – but have never had cause to use a cheeseboard in my life!

  2. Dazza says:

    Can’t wait to see how long it is before ‘NOGOE’ et al jump on this and blame LOCOG for the trees demise.
    Shall we start a sweepstake and proceeds to Charity? LOL

  3. Capability Bowes says:

    Dazza, you beat me to it.

    Whatever it was, it wasnt a plane tree. And it was dead (or moribund) long before the equestrian events.

    Trees not my area of expertise, but a plane tree has much more patchy bark – to cope with pollution, the tree absorbs it into its bark, which it then sheds in bits – rather like exfoliating skin or, as one acquaintance of mine put it once, “the tree is having a poo”.

  4. Lupo says:

    We are going to see a lot more of this. I don’t know about this individual case, but plane trees in southern europe have been decimated by a fungus – a large proportion of those in Rome for example became dangerous and had to be felled. This is now starting to spread to the UK with a few cases reported in London already.

  5. Capability Bowes says:

    Except that the tree isnt a plane tree…..

  6. Greenwich pensioner says:

    The tree is/was a beech tree.

    @Dazza 9 August 2:31pm Nogoe mark it down as a “don’t know”; there is not enough evidence to say with any confidence what actually happened. But it is intriguing.

    It is odd that the branches of the tree were cut off a long time ago (before 2 March) but that the Vee shape was left in place until the Park closed. It is odd that the trunk has now been cut in half and the debris thrown into the hollow (the Dell) beside the tree. It also looks like the holly tree behind the trunk on the left has been clipped and a couple of small holly branches are also among the debris in the Dell.

    How can the damage be explained if it is not Olympics related? I can’t think of a good explanation as to why it would happen when it did. Perhaps the Park Manager just happened to spot the trunk one day, when busy preparing the Park for the cross-country, and decided that it would be a good idea to have it cut in half.

    How could it be explained if it was Olympics related? (1) Maybe someone got the jitters about the safety of the cross-country crowd and Connick Tree Care were called in to make the tree safe at the last moment.
    (2) The Vee-shaped trunk was on the line of the cable camera that stretched across the southern end of the Park. The cable was suspended between two telescopic cranes. When these were fully extended the cable was suspended high above the trees in the Park. But how did they rig and de-rig the cable? It may be that they laid the cable across the Park and then extended the cranes to raise it into the air. Suppose so for the sake of argument. Now suppose that they were de-rigging the cable by retracting the cranes, and suppose that the cable slipped into the Vee. By the time that they realised what was happening the cable was well and truly jammed. They tried raising it and lowering it, but couldn’t get it free. So Connick Tree Care were summoned to cut it free.

  7. Stephen says:

    Greenwich pensioner. I can’t work out whether you are serious or writing in jest.

  8. Greenwich pensioner says:

    @ Stephen

    The first bit is serious:
    Nogoe mark it down as a “don’t know”; there is not enough evidence to say with any confidence what actually happened. But it is intriguing.

    The rest is light-hearted speculation.

  9. Steve C says:


    There were nesting birds in the top of this tree, which the Park authorities were apparently informed of in late spring just as the tree surgeons were about to fell the branches you see piled up in the photo.

    At least 3 nest holes were at the top of the ‘v” shape where Woodpeckers and Parakeets had excavated nest sites. As they’d been caught in the act, about to chainsaw the tree (in late May or June), they were forced to stop for at least a few weeks (it’s illegal to knowingly destroy birds’ nests). I just hope they’d left long enough for the birds to leave the nest if they cut it in July (many birds nest until August so they should have waited until September unless it was such a serious danger that it couldn’t have been fenced off).
    As for the reasons behind it, I don’t care about the politics and mudslinging but but I suspect it was just to tidy up before the Olympic events.
    I just hope they were responsible about it and checked thoroughly before they did it..


  10. Capability Bowes says:

    ofps, GP. Do give it a rest, will you?

  11. RogerW says:


    I was up around Stratford during the Opening Ceremony night, and took a picture of the Goodyear Blimp, hovering over the stadium. I put it on my Flickr page.

    I just found that some of the view figures are coming from a site where they talk about UFOs and stuff.

    Fortunately – I’m relieved to say – my picture is the one being used to show that (disappointingly, perhaps) the “shiny cigar shaped object over Stratford” was actually a little more ordinary than some might have been hoping.

    But, hey, who can say there’s anything wrong about keeping an open mind!?

  12. Capability Bowes says:

    Don’t tell me – the UFO website is run by someone who is a member of NOGOE. They also think that Princess Diana was killed by Prince Phillip, that Elvis is still alive and living in Dalston and that the moon landings were staged in a TV studio.

    Having had a couple of increasingly strident emails from NOGOE HQ over the past week, despite my having asked them not to contact me again, I am beginning to think that they have a very fragile grip on reality and are likely to also believe that alien abductions are being covered up by Slug Coe.

  13. Greenwich pensioner says:

    @ Capability Bowes August 11, 12:05pm

    Whacky stuff Bowes. You seem to be teetering on the brink of sanity. I suggest that you seek professional help.

    “They also think that Princess Diana was killed by Prince Phillip, that Elvis is still alive and living in Dalston and that the moon landings were staged in a TV studio.”

    You are talking here of the members of NOGOE and their beliefs. Do you have any evidence to back up your claim? If not, this is simply slander.

    “Having had a couple of increasingly strident emails from NOGOE HQ over the past week”.

    You contacted us to say that you had wanted to be a member of NOGOE some years ago but that someone had been very rude to you. We replied saying that we don’t know who offended you, apologised anyway, and invited you to join us. You told us, in your words, to sling our hook. I would be very surprised if anybody from NOGOE has contacted you since then. You are of no interest to us, apart from the fact that you are attacking us in public, in Phantom comments, and I have responded in public.

    I must say that I have found you to be quick to give offence and very quick to take it. Your hatred of NOGOE strikes me as psychotic.

    I am sorry if you are experiencing mental problems, and I urge you once again to seek professional help.


    psychotic: suffering from a psychosis.

    psychosis: a severe mental derangement, esp. when resulting in delusions and loss of contact with external reality.

  14. For heavens’ sake you lot. This long ago degenerated from a discussion into a slanging match. Please desist.

  15. capability bowes says:

    Phant, I formally propose that we commission you to inspect the park in six months time on an agreed date and report back in the blog as to your findings. In order to avoid accusations of partiality you should take someone with you.

    I will inspect the park on the same date and report back. And then we will know the truth.

    Do you accept?

  16. Six months would be an interesting time, though I suspect a year would be more realistic. Yes – sounds like a good idea. I make that about Feb. 13th?

  17. Capability Bowes says:

    Say we split the difference and make it April. That will give spring’s new growth to come in and take hold. What could be better than an April day in Greenwich Park? (I admit that I dont really want to be tramping round in February if I can avoid it).

    Phantom and CB cameras to be taken and the principal areas to inspect will be:

    Area up by the Rose Garden/Rangers House where the start and finish of the Cross Country was and all the warm up and competitor areas.

    Area around the Henry Moore statue

    Area on the main path immediately in front of the General Wolfe statue where the overhead camera tower was.

    Area where the stadium is plus the boating pond.

    Circus Field on the heath where the enormous bridge was.

    Any other areas The Greenwich Phantom cares to nominate.

    Both parties to be accompanied by an individual of their choice (I nominate Him Indoors who came with me to the Dressage) to avoid accusations of partisanship.

    Maybe we could invite ParkKeeper and Greenwich Pensioner to do likewise. After all, we wouldnt want to be accused of not being fair and above board on this one, would we?

    Once inspection is made, photographs and notes to be posted on TGP website for all to see. And maybe then we can draw a line once and for all below all this wretched arguing.

  18. Greenwich pensioner says:

    @Capability Bowes @TGP

    I’ve had a quick word with some NOGOE committee members. We like the idea in principle, but differ on the basic questions, methods, and detail of what is to be inspected. I will reply at greater length shortly; hopefully tomorrow morning.

  19. I like the idea – happy to host. Maybe we should invite everyone to do it and comment.

  20. Greenwich pensioner says:

    The feedback I have from NOGOE committee members so far is as follows:

    There are actually two matters that need to be decided.

    1. Has there been any damage? If so, what is the extent of it?
    2. Has the damage been properly repaired?

    1. There has undoubtedly been extensive damage (600 trees pruned, acid grassland destroyed, lawns damaged by covering, extensive damage to Circus Field). NOGOE will continue to record and publish evidence of this damage, in our photo diary, etc., and then assemble it into a single document. LOCOG will, hopefully be out of the Park by Christmas, so we can, as amateurs, assemble the obvious information. Some on the NOGOE committee have suggested that we should try and get professional reports, at the appropriate time, on archaeology and damage to remains, the acid grasslands, the impact on wildlife and bio-diversity, and the effect on trees.

    2. We think that it is unwise to commit ourselves to a limited list of things to inspect now and doubt that the question of repair can be settled conclusively by a single walk next April.

    It might be possible to settle some things. For example, areas of damaged lawn that have already been uncovered have been reseeded, and we can expect that they will have recovered well before April. And if they are going to do major work on the northern lawns (particularly those under the arena), then they might have recovered satisfactorily by next April. Here is an MCC video on the complete relay they did to the outfield at Lord’s in 2010:


    The first 40 seconds or so seem to be about removing a deep layer of clay; hence the massive excavations. From then on there are pictures of levelling and mechanical laying of turf. The video ends with the suggestion that it took just 6 months for the turf to be fully established. But I guess that the grass at Lord’s is special sports turf and that it receives regular watering, rolling, etc., from a team of ground staff. (Note in passing that the Olympic Archery was held at Lords and the outfield has been badly damaged as a result; one-third relaid for tomorrow’s Test, the whole outfield to be relaid at the end of the season.)

    We simply don’t know how the grass on the cross-country course will be replaced and how long it will be before it can be stated with any confidence that it has recovered. If next April is as wet as this one was, then the grass may look good. But it may not continue to do so after a prolonged dry spell.

    We are also not happy just to look at a few chosen spots, we want to look at the whole site. For example, it is not sufficient to look at the footprint of the bridge over the A2. Circus Field was a nature conservation site before LOCOG occupied it, and they have done extensive damage to it; including digging up the verges and building roads through it:


    To repair it properly the whole site will have to be cleared and decontaminated, the verges rebuilt, and natural flora and fauna reintroduced.

    Despite all of the caveats above, I think that the idea of a joint inspection next April is a positive one and it has helped to stimulate thoughts about the two questions that I started with. No doubt NOGOE’s thoughts about them will become clearer over the intervening months.

  21. Darren says:

    Dear Pensioner,

    I’m worried that many might have fallen asleep whilst reading your weighty reply so I thought I’d shorten it a bit.

    “We’ve made up our mind and no amount of evidence is going to change it”

    There you go!

    Phantom and CB, I’d just go back to the plan of an objective look around on April, NOGOE aren’t for turning!


  22. Capability Bowes says:

    Fine, OK, as far as I read the above,

    1) NOGOE have been invited to take part in an inspection carried out by an interested, neutral third party and a landscape professional.

    2) NOGOE were invited in order to ensure that all views on the issue were fairly represented

    3) After consultation between themselves, NOGOE have declined to take part in the above exercise.

    It would therefore appear to me that NOGOE are not prepared to accept any evidence to the contrary that their fears may have been unjustified, and by reason of this, have declared themselves unwilling to be convinced by any means.

    I therefore respectfully submit to readers of this blog that all efforts to mollify, persuade or ameliorate NOGOE are doomed to ultimate failure and that by reason of this have shown themselves to be unreasonable.

    Case for the prosecution rests.

  23. Capability Bowes says:

    Oh, and btw, Circus Field is common land and NOT a nature reserve.

  24. Dave says:

    Do try to behave children!

    Btw CB

    Blackheath is not common land.

    Look up the parliamentary Acts

  25. Greenwich pensioner says:

    @ Darren 15 August 7:58pm @ Capability Bowes 15 August 8:45pm

    “We’ve made up our mind and no amount of evidence is going to change it”

    As I said, there are two matters that need to be decided on:

    1. Has there been any damage? If so, what is the extent of it?
    2. Has the damage been properly repaired?

    Only a “damage denier” would pretend that there has been no damage. NOGOE is recording it and trying to establish its full extent.

    Some of the damage cannot be repaired; for example, branches cannot be put back on trees, and the lost archaeology under the Queen’s Lawn (and possibly elsewhere) cannot be replaced.

    Opinion differs as to whether the acid grasslands can be properly restored. Even if they can, the process will take several years.

    As for repairable damage, we are still trying to find out what LOCOG and The Royal Parks intend to do in order to repair it, and how best to test whether the repairs have succeeded. I gave the example of the grass on the cross-country course and the whole of Circus Field.

    We at NOGOE hope that the damage that can be repaired will be repaired properly; that no expense is spared to return the Park and Circus Field to the pre-Games state. We will be watching closely.

  26. Greenwich pensioner says:

    @ Capability Bowes 15 August 8:46pm

    Circus Field is a Site of Nature Conservation of Metropolitan Importance. A central aim of the programme is to protect London’s wildlife habitats and to create new habitats.


    Since it was enclosed by LOCOG:


    Circus Field has been turned into an industrial park:


    Are you suggesting that they have not damaged it and that they can just walk away when they have finished with it and leave a waste land behind them?

  27. capability bowes says:

    Please, GP, do give it a rest. I and others (me and others? Others and I?) are becoming increasingly irritated with your continuing stridency.

    NOGOE were offered the opportunity to come to the Park next year on the same day as me and the Phant and do a visual recce and as far as I can tell have refused. So personally I am refusing to have anything else to do with you or NOGOE (it is this stridency which has turned many away from your cause) and will not be engaging in this pointless battle of wills with you any further.

    End of conversation.

  28. Steve C says:

    I hope they do repair Circus Field and re-instate the verges full of wild flowers, I’m sure they didn’t say they were going to get rid of the verges when they announced they’d be using Circus Field (which otherwise wasn’t a bad idea, to prevent more damage to the park itself).

    I know you guys hate each other but these things do matter to the local environment and deserve more consideration than a feud between two opposed groups/individuals.

    So you hate NOGOE – fine, whatever, but things still need to be put right, above and beyond this silly spat. And 3 weeks after the cross-country, it’d be nice to have the fences removed from the top of the park.
    But we won’t know what the long-term situation is for a while yet and, while a walk in April sounds good, it might need more than just the one visit to find out the overall picture.

  29. Phant and I have been discussing timings away from this actual blog and I admit that I hadnt realised that there would be equestrian events at the paralympics. We have therefore altered our timings accordingly.

    Believe me, I have tried to be reasonable with NOGOE,and failed miserably, as have many others. I am thinking about starting an action group called “NO NOGOE”.

  30. Franklin says:

    Pensioner -

    I’m curious: who are the current committee members of NOGOE, on whose behalf you claim to be speaking? The committee members are not listed on the NOGOE website, as far as I can tell.

    I know that a number of the original leading lights have left the group (or been expelled). Who’s left?

    Oh – I know – it’s secret, right? Like your high-level sources.

    Can you at least tell us how MANY committee members there are now?

  31. Greenwich pensioner says:

    @ Steve C 17 August 11:53

    I don’t hate Capability Bowes. But I shall in future ignore him, and others like him.

    I have set out Nogoe’s case here and in another recent TGP discussion “Just where do we stand?”; I can’t find the link, I hope that the Phantom will oblige by repeating it. Nogoe’s case can also be read on our website (http://www.nogoe2012.com/) and in our photo diary (linked to on our web page).

    Like you, I believe that we are dealing with questions that are much too serious to allow personality differences to get in the way. Greenwich Park and Circus Field have been very badly damaged. No expense must be spared when it comes to putting the damage right. We at Nogoe also believe that the Park should remain public; that is, open to the public, free, all year round.

    P.S. I read in the latest Greenwich Mercury that Derrick Spurr, the Royal Parks’ project Manager for 2012 and former manager of Greenwich Park, is using the end of the next growing season (November 2013) as a benchmark for when “people will find it hard to see where the events took place”. Let’s hope that he is largely right; the acid grasslands may not have been fully restored, and the 600 pruned trees can’t be repaired. Let’s hope that Greenwich Council also ensures that Circus Filed is properly restored; see my last post.

  32. Franklin says:

    Yay! CB has called ‘end of conversation’ and Pensioner has pledged to ignore CB! Let peace and harmony reign… ;-)

    PS. Pensioner – I hope I’m not one of the ‘others like him’ and that you’ll reply to my question of 17 August @ 5:52pm?

  33. capability bowes says:

    La la la la laaaaaaahhh……

  34. Capability Bowes says:

    “I shall in future ignore him, and others like him.”

    ie Anyone who dares to express an opinion other than that held by NOGOE.

    And to think these people are asking for our support.

  35. capability bowes says:

    Both GP and ParkKeeper very quiet – either they have given up and gone back to the well in the Dwarf Orchard or a tree (or very possibly a house) fell on them….