War memorial wins competition to find Sheffield’s greatest trees

The trees along Western Road in Crookes
The trees along Western Road in Crookes
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A living memorial to First World War soldiers has won a competition to find Sheffield’s greatest trees.

The plane trees along Western Road in Crookes, planted to honour former pupils from nearby Westways School who died in the conflict, were victorious in the Great Trees of Sheffield contest, launched by campaigner Rob McBride and backed by Jarvis Cocker, as well as MP Nick Clegg.

More than 20 of the road’s trees have been earmarked for felling and replacement as part of the council’s Streets Ahead highways scheme with contractor Amey, a predicament shared with the competition’s runner-up, an oak tree on Vernon Road in Dore.

Joint third place was taken by a lime tree on Ryle Road, Nether Edge, and a black mulberry in Handsworth believed to be around 450 years old.

The judging panel was led by broadcaster and Pulp frontman Cocker, along with the band’s drummer Nick Banks and guitarist Richard Hawley. TV personalities Chris Packham and Christine Walkden picked the winners too, together with Rob and members of Sheffield Tree Action Groups.

A trophy was commissioned for the greatest tree, made by blacksmith Marc Morris. It was inspired by Sheffield’s connection to stainless steel and cutlery-making, and incorporated a piece of the Pontfadog Oak, a 1,200-year-old tree which toppled over in high winds in 2013.

Anna Rayner, who nominated the Western Road planes, was presented with the trophy and a certificate.

Twenty four trees were entered into the inaugural contest in total, said Rob, a self-styled ‘tree hunter’.

“I can honestly say that it was such a difficult task to choose my personal top three - eventually I chose the black mulberry as my favourite.”

Jarvis’ favourite was a weeping beech in Endcliffe Park, Nick Clegg chose a tree outside number 271 Western Road, Nick Banks picked the Ryle Road lime, while Hawley and Walkden selected the memorial trees.

“It was so close,” said Rob.

“I hope this contest has made more people understand just how truly special and loved the trees of Sheffield really are, and that sense and technically just decisions are made for trees under threat in the near future.”

Results were announced during a conference on wood meadows and pastures at Sheffield Hallam University.