1936 tree-planting ceremony on The Stray
1936 tree-planting ceremony on The Stray
Another ‘reminiscence’ from copies of the Brighouse and Elland Echo.  On 20 March there was a report of a tree-planting ceremony on ‘Hipperholme Stray’ which had been organised by the Parks and Stray Committee of Hipperholme U.D.C.  ‘Mr. C.E. Dickinson formally planted the last of an avenue of twenty-five copper beeches which he has presented to the district.’  The photograph shows Mr. Dickinson planting the tree; this was followed by a speech from Councillor Algernon Denham.  Councillor Tom Holgate, chairman of the council, was there, as was W. H. Foster, chairman and a past captain of Lightcliffe Cricket and Lawn Tennis Club, a co-opted member of the committee.

The Memorial Stray had been opened thirteen years previously, the land having been purchased from the Smithson family, worsted manufacturers, who lived at Lydgate House.  Visible in the indistinct background is the shelter, which was built in the late 1920s and provided a venue for young courting couples until it was demolished 50 years later.  The floor of the structure still exists.

However, there is a mystery surrounding the ceremony of 1936.  There are no copper beeches on The Stray, nor have there been in the memory of anyone to whom I have mentioned the matter.  The ‘avenue’ referred to in the Echo must have led from the memorial towards the spot where the ceremonial party is assembled.  Between the site of the shelter and the memorial are a dozen lime trees, which, from their size, must have been planted in the twenties or thirties; they were certainly more than saplings by the fifties.  Cherry trees border many of the paths, sycamores and a few ash trees grow beside Wakefield Road, and there are two ancient oaks, which can just be made out on the photograph, near the shelter.  So, whatever happened to Councillor Dickinson’s copper beeches?

Three months later, the Echo reported that ‘The Stray is at its best … it is a local pleasaunce comparable to any in the district’.
(The image was taken from the Echo, which is why it is not clearer.)

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