Farewell to the tennis court trees

There’s a lot to be said about the ‘shock of the new’ and l suppose – as an old codger – the panic that sets in when something regarded as being so permanent – disappears.

I am talking about the felling this week of a line of conifers in front of the upper tennis courts in Sydney Gardens.

Down comes another conifer lining the upper tennis courts.

Just recently Heritage Lottery money has been thrown at cutting down laurel and opening up dodgy spots in this historic public space where undesirables are alleged to do undesirable things.

It’s a fair excuse for letting in some light. Laurel will regenerate and in the meantime other parts of this much-loved park will benefit from some extra sunshine!

Pruned laurel opens up views and lets in more light.

However, I don’t know why the ‘felling disease’ has spread to the conifers. There is no notice saying why they are coming down.

Meanwhile, a much larger tree to one side of the gate leading out to the road and the Bath Spa MacDonald Hotel has born a notice advertising its demise for some time now.

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The notice on a maple due to be felled.

A conversation with one of the team doing the tennis court work extracted the comment that it would open up a view of the park to the people living in that quite high block of flats behind on Sydney Road – and there was me thinking how the trees were doing a good job of hiding this brutalist architecture from park users.

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Now you can see the flats or maybe it’s more now they can see into Sydney Gardens.

Of course – down the bottom end of Sydney Gardens – similar thinning of vegetation has opened up the rear gardens of the Holburne Museum.

Looking at the clearance work from the Sydney Gardens side of the Holburne Museum.

Here though the building – in its original form – was always part of this Georgian Vauxhall or pleasure garden. It had curving side-wings that reached out to embrace the ‘green’ attractions that lay before it.

I wondered whether the conifers had provided a bit of a weather-break for tennis players but was told the winds don’t come that way. One regular user told me the trees gave a bit of privacy for people on the court but that dead material from these 20 to 30-year-old specimens was a bit of a nuisance.

Yes – as trees go – they are not very old – but it would be good to know why they have come down and what B&NES intend to do with the tennis court fencing now it has been exposed. It is pretty obvious the enclosure is in poor condition.IMG_5194

The Georgians set up this space with a clear idea of how it was going to be used. A place of almost completely open-air entertainment for which people paid admission.

It’s good to know we don’t have to pay these days and that the park is somewhere for everybody. It’s another of Bath’s ‘shared spaces’ which hasn’t quite settled down to being comfortable with itself and embracing all who use it.

Cyclists and skateboarders can sometimes be a nuisance. So can dogs charging about all over the place and filling the autumn air with the scent of their urine.

There are those who enjoy defacing the walls of Minerva’s sham temple and others who nip over the boundary fences with their spray cans to leave their mark on Brunel’s railway bridges.

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The graffiti grows in Sydney Gardens.

Just recently people were invited in to plant hundreds of spring bulbs. A lovely idea and a real ‘green investment’ that will provide much pleasure in the Spring.

I am just a little saddened to cover story after story of tree felling. I want to promote new plantings but – just recently – the only new sapling l had noticed in the area was one installed near the Laura Place Fountain at the other end of Great Pulteney Street. It replaced a diseased tree that had been felled.

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The vandalized sapling in Laura Place.

The sapling is dead/dying. I have my suspicions that someone didn’t want a replacement. Maybe it gets in the way of parking a car? The tree was snapped off and new shoots also damaged.

This ‘old fogey’ has to accept change. I am sure the Parks Department has good reason for ordering the removal of the conifers in Sydney Gardens but it would be nice if park users could be kept better informed and maybe given hope for the future with news of where the ‘grand green plan’ is heading.

If someone at B&NES wants to do an interview along those lines the Virtual Museum will be pleased to publish it!




1 Comment

  1. I wonder whether any of your readers have any comments about trees ‘taking light’ or ‘obstructing views’ ? Re the former, opposite No. 39 Green Park. there is a multitrunked tree which is now vast and takes all the light from the flats. Are there different varieties of tree that don’t grow so large and admit a bit more light? Someone suggested London Planes… With regards to views, I notice now that downhill from Lansdown Crescent there are now trees growing up on the field that obstruct the views over Bath, despite the Crescent’s elevated situation…
    Bob D

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