Letter: Save the iconic Umbrella Tree from destruction

The great grandson of Queen Victoria’s road manager, who planted the Umbrella Tree in East Cowes, is calling for it to be saved. There are plans to chop it down and replace it due to fungus.

the umbrella tree

We always welcome a Letter to the Editor to share with our readers – unsurprisingly they don’t always reflect the views of this publication. If you have something you’d like to share, get in touch and of course, your considered comments are welcome below. This by Chris Gutteridge from East Cowes, who is also Managing Director Angel Radio Isle of Wight Ltd. Ed

We feel that an iconic landmark in East Cowes, which has stood through floods and storms for more than 100 years, deserves to have a chance of preservation rather than being summarily chopped down.

The Umbrella Tree at the junction of York Avenue and Clarence Road was planted along with the matching tree in West Cowes (which has already been destroyed) by Queen Victoria’s Road Manager over 100 years ago.

Treat the fungus
The tree has a fungus on it which we have been told has made the tree dangerous, but couldn’t this be treated and the tree supported in a special way. The fungus is visible, but not extensive.

This tree has always been a symbol of East Cowes Town Centre and, in fact, when the original plans for the regeneration of the town were drawn up by SEEDA the tree was the focal point of their plan and the town centre was to be centred around it, so that the natural heart of the town should stay where it has always been and not moved to the square in front of a certain supermarket.

Should remain as it always has
All East Cowes residents who remember the town as it was, consider that the Umbrella Tree and the small shops are the town centre and should stay that way.

Any visitors to East Cowes will notice that this area is still where local people congregate in what they see as the natural heart of the town. The tree is only a few yards from the Town Hall, also a symbol of the town centre.

Substitute won’t have royal connection
The firm who are handling this business are planning to replace the tree with a substitute, but this will never develop into another umbrella tree in most people’s lifetimes and will, of course, not have the royal connection which the current tree has.

It is surely a very important part of the history of East Cowes and its royal heritage.

Rumours denied
There is also a rumour – which the town Mayor denies – being true that a certain company wishes to turn York Avenue into a three lane roadway, which will necessitate removing the tree from the pavement as it will be in the way of the road widening.

As we have said before, this is only a rumour, which the Mayor emphatically denies.

Family connection to the tree
You may wonder why we are so concerned about the tree. There is a family connection.

My Father who was 100 years old yesterday (9th January 2018) is the Grandson of the very Road Manager aforementioned who planted the trees at East and West Cowes.

Although my Father is in very poor health, when he heard that the tree was to come down was obviously very distressed.

We really feel that with a little help this tree could be saved. It is a much loved landmark and could also be called our family tree!

Thank you for your attention.

Image: © Google Maps/Streetview

Wednesday, 10th January, 2018 11:42am


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Filed under: East Cowes, Island-wide, Letter to the Editor

Any views or opinions presented in the comments below are solely those of the author and do not represent those of OnTheWight.

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8 Comments on "Letter: Save the iconic Umbrella Tree from destruction"

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Is it not possible to propagate an uninfected cutting fro the existing tree?


If anyone would like to help save this iconic tree why not attend the East Cowes Town Council meeting this week at East Cowes Town hall on Thursday 18th January at 6.30 PM. A show of strength could help!

Luisa Hillard

We need to see the Tree Officer report!


It’s not ash dieback then?

Was this written by an informed biologist? “The fungus is visible, but not extensive.” Fungus does not need to be visible to be extensive. What you see are the ‘flowers’, the thing that does the real damage (and the eating) is the (generally invisible) mycelium – that could well be throughout the tree and killing it would be probably pretty challenging if you can see the blooms… Read more »
I agree with Thomas C for once. There is no reason on earth why the powers that be would consider this action without good reason. Sad as it may be, once fungus takes root then there is only one way this is going to go. With all respect, Mr Gutteridge should concentrate on ensuring the replacement is worthy of the town’s history rather than trying to fight… Read more »

So what is the actual breed of tree?
Everything has a lifespan, I’m interested to know the probable lifespan of the tree.
If it is near end of life I’d agree with previous comments regarding there is little that can be done.
Fungal blooms are common on dead or dying plants.
Still to make a truly informed appraisal, more info is needed!

Luisa Hillard

I think it’s a weeping ash.