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Caption: Felling Sitka at Broomriggs, Langdales and powerlines in the background!

Our felling team returned to the Ulverston yard with large diameter Sitka Spruce this last week. The tree’s needed to be removed from Broomriggs, close to Near Sawrey as part of a selective thinning programme. Standing at 130 foot high, it became clear that these giants had looked over the landscape for around 92 years when we counted the growth rings.

It made me wonder what they had seen over that time. So what was happening in 1923 when these Sitka seedlings were planted? Just down the road at Hill Top Farm, the owner there was expanding her farming interests, creating what was to become an incredible legacy. The author, Beatrix Potter bought Troutbeck Park Farm in 1923, when she died in 1943 she bequeathed over 4,000 acres including the farms, cottages and herdwick flocks to the National Trust – ensuring the preservation of this part of the Lake District’s beauty and history.

Also during 1923, the National Trust was presented Great Gable in perpetuity. Further south, in London, the FA Cup final was played in Wembley for the first time, following it’s completion ahead of schedule. A number of famous people were born in that year, many of them sadly no longer with us. Eric Sykes the comedian, Nicholas Parsons the radio and TV presenter, Richard Attenborough CBE the actor and director, Sue Ryder the philanthropist and the notorious Robert Maxwell were all born in 1923.

The little tree’s had a hard start in life. 1923 was one of the wettest on record – in fact up to 2014 it was the second wettest on record! Later that year the snowfall was exceptionally heavy. Christmas Day saw heavy falls all over the north of England and Scotland, with Aberdeen seeing 60 – 90 centimetres. It’s fair to say a hard start didn’t stop these magnificent trees from reaching great heights.

I wonder how much change the remaining trees will see over the next ninety years at the start of a new century? 2105…

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