Replanting Bat Willow Meadow

31st October 2018


One of the wonderful things about Addison’s Walk is that it feels unchanged – it’s easy to imagine Lewis, Tolkien, and Dyson being inspired by the same views. But in reality this much-loved riverside walk is in a constant cycle of renewal. In the last 12 months alone the riverbank has been strengthened, half a dozen diseased horse chestnuts cut down, and the paths in the adjoining Fellows’ Garden have been relaid. And now the trees in Bat Willow Meadow are being replanted.

A willow will live on average for 50 years, but the eight trees in the Meadow are well over 60 and are becoming unsafe. Over the last few years the trees have required increasing attention, and, as many of them are infected with honey fungus, the College has decided they should be cut down.

In a strange twist of fate, the company hired to fell the trees is the same company who originally planted them. Nick Wright, Director of J.S Wright & Sons, cricket bat willow specialists and merchants, said, “I spoke to my colleague Bill Clarke, now aged 96, and he remembers when the existing trees were planted.”

J.S Wright & Sons was founded in 1874 and has remained a family business growing and purchasing bat willow from sites all over the British Isles. Even though the trees are past their best for the very finest cricket bats, J.S Wright & Sons will be turning the majority of the wood into cricket blades.

Twenty, 12-foot tall willows will be planted in Bat Willow Meadow in December/January to replace the willows. These will then be thinned and the best trees in the best locations maintained.

And in fifty years’ time, the process will begin again.