Historic Harleston tree planted by the Queen Mother to be made into a sculpture

The Queen Mother plants the London Plane tree at Harleston recreation ground.

The Queen Mother plants the London Plane tree at Harleston recreation ground. - Credit: Archant

A historic tree planted in Harleston by the Queen Mother will be turned into a sculpture this weekend after concerns were raised about rotting branches.

The Queen Mother meets crowds during her walkabout in Harleston on July 26, 1982

The Queen Mother meets crowds during her walkabout in Harleston on July 26, 1982 - Credit: Archant

The London plane at the town's recreation ground was planted by the Queen Mother during a visit on July 26 1982, when she was given a tour of the Memorial Leisure Centre.

However a health and safety inspection for the town council revealed side shoots from the base of the tree were weak, while damage had also occurred during the winter storms at the end of last year.

The consultant arborist conducting the assessment recommended removing the side shoots to try to strengthen the growth and make the tree safe, or remove the tree altogether.

But the town council was keen not to lose a tree of such historic importance and contacted tree surgeons at Waveney Trees to see if they could help.


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The possibility of converting the tree into a hand sculpture was mooted and tree sculptor Paul Kelly will be carrying out the work on Saturday at 9am.

Harleston town clerk Margot Harbour said: 'Obviously, the last thing the council wants is to lose something of importance and the importance of this tree is that it was planted by the Queen Mother.'

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Mr Kelly said there was very little left of the tree except for a small stump and some spindly branches, but he planned to try to convert the branches into two hands to replicate the Harleston sign.

Joan Garnham, part owner of Waveney Trees, said part of the branch would be preserved at Harleston Museum as a memorial of the tree. She said: 'It is very sad that part of the tree will be lost but it is better than it falling on somebody.'

The whole town turned out for the Queen Mother when she became the first Royal to visit Harleston for 900 years.

She was flown in from Windsor by helicopter and took a walkabout of the recreation ground, where she chatted to people in the crowd and watched games of petanque and bowls.

Do you remember the Queen Mother's visit? Email dominic.bareham2@archant.co.uk

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