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Tree-mendous: Town's great survivor passes health check

By Dominic Robertson | Newtown | News | Published:

A town's great survivor – a popular and rare black poplar tree – which was runner up in a national tree of the year competition, has passed its health check.

Carrying out the check were Arboricultural Consultant Geoff Monk, Mayor David Selby, Town Clerk Ed Humphreys, and officers from Powys County Council's Countryside Services department, Steve Gealy and Stephan Butcher. Also present was Powys County Council's Ecology Officer Rachel Probert.

The Newtown tree, on grass between the Gravel Car Park on Shortbridge Street and the River Severn, was given a tree survey and a free arboriculture report from the Woodland Trust. 

Newtown Town Council said the health check was possible as a result of it being runner up in this year's 'Welsh Tree of the Year' competition, and thanked the locals who voted for it. 

A spokesman for the council explained the history of the landmark tree, saying: "The story of survival starts in the 1960s, the tree then stood majestically on the Llanllwchaiarn side of the river.  Due to the great floods of 1960 and 1964 a large flood prevention scheme was needed.

"As a result, the river was diverted and moved, and the tree found a new home on the Newtown side of the river. Amazingly the tree survived all the work and continued to thrive.

"The poplar’s existence was then threatened in 1990 when it survived plans to be chopped down to make way for an extension of the car park. Thankfully special conditions were put into place to protect it and no harm came to the tree again. 

"The tree has remained a popular attraction in the town with locals and visitors alike, providing a landmark welcome for all and is still a very popular spot to picnic and relax. 

"As well as the survey Newtown and Llanwchaiarn Town Council has taken steps to save the gene line by taking propagation cuttings which will be ready to be planted by the original tree in the autumn."

Town mayor, Councillor David Selby said: “I was delighted to see our black poplar tree having a successful health check.  It should be with us for many more years. I was also pleased to see how much the tree is the centre of a successful picnic area at this time of year welcoming both residents and visitors into town. 

"With the recent improvements in the Gravel Car Park, and the reopening of the toilets, the black poplar tree can stand proud in an attractive and welcoming part of town."

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