Oh what a shady Circus!

A couple of years ago l featured a campaign, by historian and author Professor Tim Mowl, to get a statue of architect John Wood Senior installed in the middle of one of his greatest works in stone – The Circus.

I gave the story the headline – “You can’t see the Wood for the trees” – which was a play on words to be sure but – as Bath Newseum follower Richard Brown points out – there might not yet be a statue, but ……

“You will know that the trees, now over 200 years old, remain.  However, since 2012, their dominance in The Circus has increased.  The trees are now at record heights and their growth is hindering the appreciation of them and their ‘setting’.  

I have, since 2017, asked the Council to manage the trees, specifically lowering their top canopy (last done in 1990) and to raise the lower canopy. 

Although the Council’s own inspection report from 2017 recommended that the lower canopy be raised (to 3-4 m above ground level), this has not been done and, further, the Council is reluctant to reduce the height of the trees. 

The uncontrolled growth of the trees has resulted in a situation preventing both locals and visitors from enjoying the views across the Circus green to the architecture beyond.  The attached photos, taken today, provide evidence.  In parts, the trees extend to the ground completely blocking any view.

I am not sure whether you would have more luck than myself in getting the Council to undertake any effective tree management.

Surely, as a World Heritage City, we can do better in showing our heritage assets?’

Meanwhile, Councillor Jess David, cabinet assistant for Neighbourhood Services, told Bath Newseum: “The council removed some of the lower canopy of the Circus Planes in Spring 2018 as part of routine works. We do not routinely reduce height on any large, healthy trees as it risks infections entering and encourages the tree to rapidly grow to the same size as it was before, meaning the practice would need to be repeated regularly. 

“We welcome Mr Brown’s concern and as we mentioned in our correspondence with him in June 2021, the trees were last inspected in October 2020 which identified minor pruning as being desirable.

Our teams are currently catching up with tree works that are necessary for health and safety reasons following delays caused by the pandemic, as well as managing the rapidly spreading and hugely damaging ash dieback disease across the district. We will carry out the minor pruning at The Circus as soon as possible.”