Tree Story #4 – The Cannon Hill Oak

This month our tree memory comes from Pip Pountney. As you may know Pip is currently Co -Chair of the Coventry Tree Warden’s Network committee. She has been actively involved in promoting and supporting the preservation of our City’s trees for many years. Pip’s tree memory highlights how local people and communities can and do make a huge difference in protecting our trees.

The Cannon Hill Oak

My tree memory involves a grand old oak that has been measured and recorded as over 500 years old – verified by the Woodland Trust.  It has a Tree Preservation Order and is on the Ancient Tree Register.  It has some decay but our Tree Officers are happy with the overall condition of its trunk and canopy. Located on the corner of Cannon Hill and Hilary Road CV4 7BX it is a real land mark.

I’ve lived on Cannon Hill Road most of my life and there are many beautiful mature trees along the length of the road. These somehow survived the blitz even when the road and buildings were damaged.

During the 50’s and 60’s Merynton and Tutbury Avenues were constructed and housing development covered nearby fields.  Suddenly the old oak was a nuisance – it made access for cars rather tricky so the Council decided to fell. Local residents protested loudly and the oak was reprieved but radically reduced.  

Over the years the Cannon Hill Oak has slowly recovered and is a wonderful tree. I still enjoy happy childhood memories of climbing up into its branches, watching life go by and listening to the wind in the leaves. Now in my 70’s I just keep a loving eye on it.   

Coventry has mature and ancient oak trees scattered across the city – many in unsuitable locations due to city development.  But it is vital that city planners and communities protect and treasure them since many are older than most of our historical buildings and all are an important part of our heritage.

 Our Urban Forest is vitally important for both physical and mental health. We need to plant new trees in every location possible but must also value and protect our mature and ancient trees.  These mop up pollution, provide clean air and shade, prevent flooding and give us something beautiful to look at and a sense of well being.

The English Oak (Quercus Robur) can live for 1000 years and hopefully the Cannon Hill Oak will be allowed to live on so that future generations can enjoy it for many years to come. 

Pip Pountney

The Cannon Hill Oak (Coventry). Image Credit: Derek Robinson