Roots in history

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CAMPAIGNERS in Scarborough are hoping that plans for a proposed Tesco superstore can be modified slightly in order that this tree can be saved.

It is a rare weeping elm and has stood off Dean Road for between 100 and 120 years. Concerns were raised, when planning permission was granted for the former St Mary’s Hospital site, that the tree would be lost and Ron Womack is part of a small band of volunteers who are hoping it can be saved.

The 71-year-old used to run a garden centre in Filey Road, and used to write a regular gardening column for the Evening News, said he first got involved in the elm’s plight when he was asked to identify which species it was.

He added that there were a lot of different types of elm but he was certain this was an example of the weeping variety. “They maybe more common in the south but up here it is rare. We are intrigued why it was planted there. It’s a rare tree that that has been there since the very early stages of the hospital or even back to when it was a workhouse,” he said.

Mr Womack said that it was initially hoped that the tree could be transplanted elsewhere but he now feels it would be safer to leave it where it is and for developers to adapt their plans around it. He added: “At this stage I don’t think it should be moved – it could be protected by the circle around it – it could be increased to about the width of the canopy which would stop vehicles going too close to it.

“If the tree is protected then why not create a small memory garden that could be dedicated to St Mary’s Hospital?”

He said a meeting between his group and representatives from Scarborough Council and Tesco was due to be arranged to decide what should happen.

Lucy Lambley, of Columbus Ravine, also raised concerns this week that part of Scarborough’s history and heritage could be gone forever if the tree was cut down.

She said that it would be appropriate to create a memorial garden to the former hospital with the tree as a focal point. She added: “This would allow the community and residents alike to reflect and enjoy a space, as in past years and still retain a small amenity area, which no doubt would be given the care and attention it required by local people and commemorating the past history of the site.”