A MAGNIFICENT oak tree fell victim to high winds in Herefordshire after Storm Arwen hit the county.

Many were devastated to see the demise of the tree in Hereford’s Belmont and Haywood Country Park.

It came down after the first named storm of the winter brought high winds, hail, and sleet last weekend.

The oak, believed to be more than 350 years old, had for years been admired in its rolling farmland setting near Belmont Abbey.

When it first sprang from an acorn, in around 1660, King Charles II was on the throne of England, Oliver Cromwell had just died, and Samuel Pepys was just starting his famous diaries. It pre-dated the creation of the United Kingdom and, in total, 17 monarchs have sat on the throne in its lifetime.

Hereford Times: Picture: Claudia WysieckaPicture: Claudia Wysiecka

It stood in farmland that was passed to Herefordshire Council through Charles Church Housing as a planning condition for the building of a small estate of 69 houses just within the boundary of the city’s Newton Farm ward and which would later become the Belmont and Haywood Country Park.

In its later years, it was overlooked by houses in Belmont’s Cedar Avenue, and was a treasured landmark for many.


Atlanta Kent, who lives in Hinton, is a regular visitor to the park and said she was very sad that the tree had fallen.

“It was a beautiful tree, and people loved taking pictures of it,” she said.

“It was the most popular tree we had in Belmont. I hope we can plant another beautiful tree where this old oak tree stood.

“Every tree is very special and once it’s gone that is another loss of our habitat and wildlife, and it’s heartbreaking that it has been lost. It was a great landmark in Belmont park.

“I visit the park as much as I can to take pictures of the pool, nature, and the beautiful trees. It always looks amazing in all seasons.”

Hereford Times: Picture: Piotr BiukowskiPicture: Piotr Biukowski

Belmont teenager Greg Dunsford, who regularly volunteers and photographs wildlife at the park and is known for his litter picking efforts across the county, was also deeply saddened to see the tree go.

“It was a massive tragic loss for the park, its surroundings, and the locals who help look after and maintain the park,” the 18-year-old said, noting the age and history of the landmark tree.

“I think it would be nice to plant a new oak tree in the same place as the old one.”

Keen walker Jeremy Benyon, of Newton Farm, said: “It is a shame.

“It is sad in a way.

“It was the tree I least expected to fall. There are so many around here.

“But there is another tree nearby that also fell in the storm.”

It was just over the other side of the park from the oak tree.

“It is a peaceful area and the tree’s fall was unexpected.”

Hereford Times: Picture: Claudia WysieckaPicture: Claudia Wysiecka

Volunteers moved in on Tuesday to start cutting up the fallen tree, with big plans afoot.

Former councillor Philip Edwards is the chairman of the local volunteering group that helps look after Belmont Country Park.

He has spent the last two days chopping up the tree in his own time.

His wife Bobbie Edwards, the secretary of the volunteering group, said: “He works so hard for the community.”

The wood from the hollow 360-year-old oak tree will be turned into a natural play area that will sit next to the existing one.

The leftover wood will then be sold to people and the profits will go back into funding for the park.

Hereford Times: Phillip Edwards of Belmont CPS. Picture: Rob DaviesPhillip Edwards of Belmont CPS. Picture: Rob Davies

“The oak is a perfect example of what we have done as a community group,” said Mr Edwards.

“It’s turning a negative into a positive.”

A man visiting relatives from Fiji chipped in and helped Mr Edwards sort out the wood.

Mr and Mrs Edwards have volunteered for the group for seven years and have worked on previous projects that have involved other fallen trees and branches.

The park is 46 acres in total and the pair look after the 18 acres of it of which they call the People’s Park.

They have previously used oak from a branch that fell off the tree to make wooden owls.


The tree was far from the only loss in the county over the weekend, as heavy gusts blew through Herefordshire.

Teams from Balfour Beatty Living Places were called to fallen trees across the county through the weekend, working to clear more than 80 trees felled by high winds from roads and paths.

Hereford Times: Picture: Hattie YoungPicture: Hattie Young

Engineers from Western Power were also called out when homes were left without power in some parts of the county as trees took power lines with them.

Their work continued into the week, as further trees continued to fall after being destabilised by the winds.

In Hereford’s Widemarsh Street, advertising hoardings fell victim to the weather, falling into a car park, and in Leominster, a sign was ripped from the frontage of Watsons Motor Works in Etnam Street.

Temporary fencing was put in place in Hereford’s Cathedral Close when debris blew from the trees lining the paths.

In Bromyard, the town’s impressive Christmas lights were put to the test, with volunteers out and about working to secure any that had come loose in the winds on Sunday afternoon.

Hereford Times: Picture: Tiny TrekkerPicture: Tiny Trekker

And fence panels and trampolines were caught up in the winds across the county, with Tupsley artist Helen Parry, otherwise known as Tiny Trekker, sharing pictures of her fence panels strewn across her drive.