Village at Yorkshire’s historical centre fears for its tree

The Barkston Ash tree (centre) from which the village of Barkston Ash, near Leeds, in North Yorkshire, takes its name.
The Barkston Ash tree (centre) from which the village of Barkston Ash, near Leeds, in North Yorkshire, takes its name.
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A YORKSHIRE village named after a tree fear their ash will fall victim to a deadly disease spreading across Europe.

Villagers in Barkston Ash, North Yorkshire, are worried they might lose the tree to Chalara ash dieback, which has been confirmed at a number of sites in the UK.

It would be the second time the village has lost its namesake ash tree, which is believed to mark the centre of Yorkshire.

The original 140-year-old ash had to be felled about 14 years ago after it began to die and became a health and safety hazard.

The present tree was planted a short time later and is represented around the village, which has road names and a pub featuring the famous ash.

The Chalara fraxinea fungus, which causes leaf loss and crown dieback and can lead to tree death in ash trees, has wiped out 90% of ash trees in some parts of Denmark and is becoming widespread throughout central Europe.

Last week it was disclosed there were more than 120 confirmed sites where the disease had been found in the UK.

Jonathan Hirst, chairman of Barkston Ash Parish Council, said they would discuss the tree at a meeting this week.

Mr Hirst said: “Barkston Ash is created around the ash tree so it would be a real shame if there would be something to happen to the tree. It could be a real problem.

“Barkston is one of the centres of the original Yorkshire so I think there’s some historical significance to the tree.

“It’s something that’s very important to us and it would be a real shame for the UK as a whole and especially those villages named after ash trees. It’s the heart of the village, the roots of the village.”

Dr Guy Woolley, a former parish council chairman, said there was uproar in the village when the original tree was felled.

He said: “The old tree was about 140 years old and the village was named after the tree. It must be about 14 years ago when limbs started to look in trouble and were hanging over roads. It was examined by a top tree horticulturalist and was taken down as it was unsafe.

“There were people in the village who didn’t want the old tree to be removed.”

Dr Woolley added: “A number of people that I know have expressed concern because the village is named after the tree. I don’t know what would happen if the tree got the disease.”