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End for tree with roots in Victorian era

PUBLISHED: 16:23 03 February 2010 | UPDATED: 11:27 12 August 2010

AN HISTORIC tree older than Charles Darwin s The Origin of the Species has been felled after contracting a killer bug.

AN HISTORIC tree older than Charles Darwin's The Origin of the Species has been felled after contracting a killer bug.

The copper beech tree in Queens Gardens, Bromley, was cut down by specialists after tree inspectors found it had fallen victim to one of the most dangerous tree diseases.

At 160 years old, it towered 90ft above the gardens, and posed a serious risk to pedestrians below as experts said it could collapse without warning.

The council plans to plant a new tree in its place, following its removal on Friday, as part of a programme that will involve planting more than 860 trees

Councillor Colin Smith, environment chief at Bromley Council, said: "It was quite moving and not just a little humbling watching it come down.

"When you stop to consider that Sir Robert Peel was Prime Minister when the 160-year-old beech tree was just a sapling and Queen Victoria's reign was still in its infancy, Bromley's population was estimated to be just 4,000 and cars had yet to be invented, then think forward and realise that our children's children will be lucky to see its former splendour replicated on this site, it's quite something."

Arboricultural experts who examined the beech after it was felled identified it as having one of the worst cases of the disease meripilus giganteus ever seen.

The disease attacks the tree from the roots, eventually leading it to blow down even if it looks perfectly healthy on the outside.

Tree care contractor Gristwood and Toms carried out the removal of the tree, among 35,000 maintained by the team in parks across the borough.

More than £430,000 has been spent this year maintaining existing trees and planting new ones, with about 850 planted.

Mr Smith added: "Our tree-planting programme is an investment for the future and will be enjoyed by people for generations to come.

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