ONE of Dorset’s, and perhaps the country’s, most famous trees is to get a haircut.
The tree in question is the Tolpuddle Martyrs’ tree in Tolpuddle, where the trade union movement began nearly 200 years ago.
Six farm workers, who were to become the ‘Tolpuddle Martyrs’ met there in 1834 after their pay was cut meaning they could no longer afford to look after their families.
They began to join together and campaign to improve working conditions for themselves and other farm workers that were in in the area.
Their story has given the tree, a 300-year-old sycamore, powerful historical significance. Now the National Trust has commissioned tree surgeons to carry out some essential work to rejuvenate the tree.
Without this work, the tree’s lifespan would be significantly reduced, the trust says.
The tree surgeons will reduce the tree’s crown to prevent its large branches breaking off and damaging the trunk.
Not only will this encourage new healthy growth, it will also mitigate damage to the main trunk, which is hollow and weak where the branches join it. The ‘pollarding’ work, which was last done in 2002, has to be done regularly to keep the tree healthy.
The ivy growing on the tree will also be removed as it adds too much weight and acts as a sail in high winds.
National Trust Countryside Manager for West Dorset Rob Rhodes said: “The tree is very healthy at the moment and the work will help keep it this way.
“Thousands of people come and visit the tree so it is our job to protect it and keep it alive for as long as we can. We planted a seedling from the tree on the village green in 1984 so that there is continuity.
“However, experts have estimated that with regularly pollarding it could live for at least another 200 years, so it should still be with us for a long time yet.”