Oaks Park, Carshalton – the original site of the The Oaks horse race – sits on a very shallow soil over chalk with the southern part being slightly elevated on a low ridge and quite exposed to winds from the south-west.
In 1987 it was said that it had a tree population of around 22,000 and that some 15,000 fell or were so badly damaged in the storm that it was felt they had to be removed. These numbers are probably exaggerated but I would say that well in excess of 500 mature trees were lost.
With hindsight some trees perhaps could have been retained, in some form or other, but in common with many areas, there was a pressure to clear up as quickly as possible. The B278 Woodmansterne Road that runs along the east boundary of the park was blocked for more than two weeks. At one point during the night of the storm a fire engine was trapped for two hours by trees falling either side of it.
Earlier in 1987, a survey of roadside trees within the park was carried out by Vivien Hodge (tree consultant and former London Borough of Sutton Tree Officer). The survey showed that many of the trees were latemature specimens with significant defects that would necessitate the removal of many of their number. We were considering how to present this problem to the public when nature took over and largely resolved it.
As part of the work to present the planned removal of the defective trees to the public we also made outline plans for a public tree planting day to educate and involve the community in the establishment of replacement trees. These plans were brought forward (rather hastily) and a very successful event was held on 29 November 1987.
This story is from the Winter 2017 issue 179 of the ARB Magazine.
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