Town’s sought-after willow trees making a mark across the globe

PUBLISHED: 12:13 20 April 2017 | UPDATED: 12:14 20 April 2017

Paul Croydon with one of the debris piles at the park

Paul Croydon with one of the debris piles at the park

Archant

Some 60 willow trees have been harvested from a park in St Neots ready to be transformed into cricket bats.

Some of the trees harvested for the cricket batsSome of the trees harvested for the cricket bats

Workmen arrived at the Barford Road Pocket Park in March to remove the trees, before sending them to J.S Wright & Sons – an Essex-based company which has been making cricket bats for more than 100 years.

“They plan to take 60 trees out now, and in the winter they will come and replace them with at least 80,” Paul Claydon, ranger for Huntingdonshire District Council, said.

“The intention is that they will grow up and in another 15 to 20 years they’ll do it all over again. It’s totally sustainable.”

Some of the trees harvested for the cricket batsSome of the trees harvested for the cricket bats

The work took about five days to complete, with logs piled up and debris burned on the site.

“The difficult thing is that for the public who don’t know, it looks like total devastation and in Cambridgeshire we don’t have many trees,” Mr Croydon added.

“By proportion, it’s the lowest density population of trees in the whole country, so when you get this amount taken out it looks like a lot, whereas in forestry terms it’s a drop in the ocean.”

Mr Croydon also said the disturbance is beneficial to wildlife living in the vegetation.

“Stinging nettles love disturbed ground and they are very good for lots of different butterflies laying their eggs on them,” he said.

“Now it’s a little bit more open, the voles have to run across which is good food for the owls and the kestrels because suddenly the terrain has changed. What looks like devastation to the untrained eye isn’t actually that bad.”

After arriving at J.S. Wright & Sons, the logs will be cross-cut, split and worked on with a circular saw before being left outside for a month. Following that, they will be put in a dryer for three months before being sent all over the world to countries including India and South Africa.

Oliver Wright, director, said: “If you compare willow to oak, oak is very brittle whereas willow is very stringy and the cell structure is completely different.

“It’s also more durable in terms of getting a beating from a cricket ball.”

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