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Thursday, 15 May 2014

The Freschini Oak and Other Trees

Trees around the water tower have been a source of slight planning difficulties and of concern to neighbours - either too many of them or too few.

Since being here we have planted some trees in the hope that they will flourish in places that suit the site.

Atop the banking near to the summer house we have planted a willow tree which is making excellent progress.   At the north east end of the site, near to our rear wall we have planted two Scots pines.   These should resolve privacy problems perceived by some neighbours.   These two arrived as seedlings growing inside the coal truck from Aviemore so they are indeed Scottish Scots pines.

Then, on top of the northern knoll we planted a Jubilee Oak to mark the Queen's Jubilee year.

Last week I was returning from Carlisle and was surprised to be met on Settle station by Tony Freschini.   He had brought with him an oak tree that he had grown from an acorn.   He had asked me a couple of years ago if I thought the water tower would be a good home for it.

Tony Freschini was British Rail's senior engineer who investigated, reported on and finally rescued the Ribblehead Viaduct which had been declared 'life expired' by less visionary people who thought the viaduct needing to be replaced - or the Settle-Carlisle line closed.   Happily, the politicians did not want to see the line closed - nor did Tony Freschini.

The Freschini oak now has a place of honour in front of the tower, alongside the station approach drive - and a brass plaque explaining its significance:

click to enlarge

I once had the unnerving experience of visiting Network Rail's offices in Preston with Tony Freschini.   We (FoSCL) wanted to raise money by holding a public walk across the Ribblehead Viaduct, under cover of a planned track replacement closure of the line the following year.   Tony was a good man to have on side for such an odd request.

It was as though the Pope had paid an unannounced visit to a parish church in Poland.   The older people in the office stood up in respectful acknowledgement of Freschini's arrival.   The younger ones stopped playing on their computers and texted their colleagues.   "O.M.G. who's that f.f.s.?"   Word spread.

We got our public walk OK'd.   From little acorns eh?

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