Having finished the 17 tree project on the Hatfield Road Estate and having filled the interval by planting 4 replacement trees in The Avenue, we came back on 26 January to finish the World War 1 Memorial Park between Bramble Road and Honeysuckle Way.
We had the last 15 trees to plant and fortunately were able to field a nearly complete team. 6 of us were present, together with Will and Ollie from Bee Brook, Braintree District Council’s contractors. Keeping carefully to the Covid guidelines, we were able to get all the trees in the ground, supported and caged, within 4 hours. On the last occasion, despite the fact that we were planting at least a hundred yards from any houses, we had come across a pipe of unknown origin and purpose, which had obliged us to move the site of one of the trees. Though nothing quite as dramatic occurred at this session, we did excavate quite a bit of building debris, including a whole brick and a large lump of concrete which took 2 of us to lift. These were even further from any houses. We were happy to leave the mystery of their origin to future archaeologists and just get on with the job.
So the project is now complete and Witham has a living and long term memorial to all those from the town (hardly more than a village then) who served their country in the First World War and particularly those who gave their lives. We planted 53 trees last year, one of which did not survive the summer drought, and have added a further 30 this year, which provides a tree for each of those 82 men whose names are on the Town War Memorial.
We must record our appreciation to Braintree District Council, which designed and funded the Memorial Park, and to Witham Town Council, which supported the project and has always encouraged the Tree Group in its work. We shall next be discussing with the Town Council the provision of explanatory notices in order to ensure that the Memorial Park makes its full impact in bringing home to Witham residents the selflessness and sacrifice of their predecessors.
Finally, we must express our thanks to Will and Ollie of Bee Brook for all their efforts, and for the pleasure of their company, in bringing this project to completion.
If anything could disturb our sense of achievement as we walked slowly and somewhat achingly off the site, it was the thought that across the town as a whole we are going to have to water more than 100 trees through the summer. We are probably the only people in Witham who are hoping for a wet summer!
26 January 2021