Diss residents have expressed sadness at the impending loss of an oak tree which has stood in the town for more than two centuries.
The tree on the green in Willbye Avenue, believed to have once tethered elephants belonging a travelling circus decades ago, is in the process of being chopped down, after safety concerns were outlined by site owners Saffron Housing.
Work to fell the tree, which is thought to be about 250 years old, was temporarily halted this week, after a group of residents, including volunteers at Quaker Wood, raised the possibility of salvaging the timber for community use.
However, this endeavour is now in limbo, due to uncertainty about the condition of the wood, as well as the discovery of an iron frame within the tree’s base, which may have been swallowed up as the tree grew from a sapling over many years.
A spokesperson for Saffron Housing said they had been monitoring the tree, located next to a children’s play area, for a long time, and determined the oak had now reached an unstable level of decay.
“As a matter of public safety, it’s having to come down. We are sorry that this had to happen, but equally, public safety has to take priority,” they explained.
Saffron also confirmed that residents, Diss Town Council and South Norfolk Council had all been consulted, and added that a new tree would eventually be planted to replace it.
Jacob Ecclestone, who was part of the group that had hoped to recycle the oak timbers, said he had heard from a lot of residents who were sad to see it go.
He told the Diss Express: “I think it is a great shame. It’s very sad to see such a fine tree being taken down.
“I think our hope of being able to obtain wood from the tree for the benefit of the community is looking rather bleak. It’s difficult to see how that can happen.”
The tree is also said to have inspired the original Quaker Wood logo, designed by schoolchildren in Diss.
Quaker Wood patron and nature writer Richard Mabey, while not familiar with this specific tree, said: “In general, urban trees are felled prematurely, long before they are raise any problems of safety,” citing a Caucasian Wingnut near to the Diss Lawns Surgery which was also cut down in recent years.