Rare tree receives new plaque

Graham White with the replacement plaque for the Ginkgo Biloba tree at the Knowle. Ref shs 0801-03-1

Graham White with the replacement plaque for the Ginkgo Biloba tree at the Knowle. Ref shs 0801-03-15TI. Picture: Terry Ife - Credit: Archant

Sidmouth residents interested in the history of a rare species of tree have paid for a new replacement plaque after the old one became unreadable.

The Ginkgo biloba is a rare sight in Britain, usually gracing the well-to-do neighbourhoods of Tokyo.

In Sidmouth, one has been growing in the gardens of the Knowle for more than 40 years.

The tree was planted during the chairmanship of Arthur White as head of the Sidmouth Urban District Council, when the Knowle became council offices. He received a donation from the Sidmouth Men of Trees Society to plant the Ginkgo biloba

Arthur’s son Graham hopes the plaque will help to preserve the tree amidst the potential sale of the Knowle.

Graham said: “This Ginkgo biloba is significant because it represents part of the heritage of Sidmouth and a lasting memory of my late father.

“He died 38 years ago and would be so proud to see how this tree has matured into such a beautiful specimen since he planted it.”

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The 73-year-old, who lives in Newton Poppleford, is campaigning as part of the Save Our Sidmouth group to have the tree protected by a tree preservation order (TPO).

Graham said: “I would be happy to see a tree preservation order placed on the tree in the hope that it would be protected from possible future development.

“For me the ginkgo is part of our Save Our Sidmouth campaign, to preserve what is dear to those of us who value the unique character and history of Sidmouth.”

The Sidmouth Men of Trees society was set up in 1954 after an advert appeared in the Herald. It was founded by Sir Richard St Barbe Baker and the society went on to become the International Tree Foundation.

The Gingko biloba can live between 1,000 and 3,000 years and is also known as the Jurassic Tree.

Graham was contacted by Michael Horsnell about replacing the damaged plaque after the original became unreadable back in 2010. Members of the public, councillors and Graham attended an unveiling on Monday to put the plaque in front of the tree in the grounds.

In response to public concerns about the fate of the tree, EDDC tree officer David Coleman said: “There is no need to make a TPO, as it is not at risk from untoward management or removal.”

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