In the 1960s my father-in-law Geoff Duckworth, was the assistance chief engineer for Ramsbottom District Council. One of his responsibilities was the construction of new roads as the town began to expand. The widening of Summerseat Lane was needed as a new housing Estate was in the planning, the route of the existing lane would have required the felling of an ancient oak tree. The idea of tree preservation was a introduced in 1947 and was yet to be widely adopted throughout the United Kingdom.
My father-in-law recognised this tree was important and also beautiful, and insisted that it be saved for future generations. This meant changing the route of the road, so instead of going behind the tree the new road went in front, is also softened the corner. The old lane is now overgrown (see photo) and runs behind a house built in the 1970s.
I estimate that the trees over 250 years, it has been thoughtfully maintained over the last 50 years and has matured into a pleasing silhouette, with excellent trunk movement… quite Bonsai’ish. My son Sam considers it a tree perfect for climbing and as William, in the “Just William” stories proclaimed, “there are two types of tree, those you can climb and those you cannot.”
This majestic Oak is part of the history of the village, I am proud that there is a link between an ancient English Oak and my children, and the legacy left by Grandpa.