Parks and Squares Hit by January 2007 Storms

Hazelle Jackson surveys the damage

A fallen tree in Eaton Square damaged cars and blocked traffic
A fallen tree in Eaton Square damaged cars and blocked traffic.
Fallen poplars at Bedford Hill Woods, Tooting Bec
(Photo: Andy West, LB Wandsworth)
Fallen poplars at Bedford Hill Woods, Tooting Bec
(Photo: Andy West, LB Wandsworth)

Winds gusting at around 80mph caused extensive storm damage across London on 18th January 2007. Sections of the roof were blown off both at London Bridge Station and at Lord's Cricket Ground. The high winds led to the closure of Heathrow Airport and sections of the M25. Trees came down across the capital, causing extensive damage to cars and buildings.

Many of London's parks and squares suffered as trees were snapped off or wrenched up by the roots. In Eaton Square a mature tree fell and crushed several cars, in a scene repeated across the capital. Kew Gardens lost over 20 trees. London Landscapes asked some of the capital's parks and open space managers how they had been affected.

Hampstead Heath

"We have had our fair share of damage," said Hampstead Heath Superintendent Simon Lee. "We estimate over 100 trees either down or damaged. The biggest includes a huge beech which fell from a neighbouring property at the Vale of Health on Heath land - it is a truly colossal monster. A huge horse chestnut fell onto the Jack Straw's Castle boundary wall. The birch have also suffered badly, particularly on Sandy and West Heath.

"There is also considerable windblown damage to the rank elm areas. This may allow some natural opening up where we can encourage regeneration. Highgate Wood has about 25 trees damaged or down. The clear-up operation will take several weeks."


A similar story came from Paul Jackson, Head Gardener at Kenwood. "We have a minimum of £20,000 of tree work with about 25 trees damaged or fallen. Fortunately many of the damaged trees were birch, which are less valuable to us here at Kenwood.

"However a large boundary oak near the Flower Garden, around 250 years old, blew down blocking the path, and a large boundary oak near Hampstead Gate became unstable and needed to be felled. In addition, many fences have been damaged, either where trees have fallen on the iron boundary fences or where wooden posts have snapped and the fence has blown over, as in Hampstead Lane."

Finsbury Park

Finsbury Park was more fortunate. Park Development Officer Liz Leverton told us: "I think we escaped lightly compared to other parks. We lost about six smallish species and some limbs from the mature stock."


Clissold Park in Hackney reported the loss of several mature sycamores, limes and chestnuts.


South of the river, Wandsworth's Parks Manager Jennifer Ullman reported, "Wandsworth Park seems to have been the worst hit of all of our spaces, 1 guess because it is near the river and there is a nice upward sweep for the wind to push up. We are still taking a reckoning, but we lost close to 100 trees across all of our open spaces; but most of that would be small things on the Commons.

"At Battersea we had a big plane tree by the Pagoda break off near the top, which will make things look very lopsided! The losses in our open spaces weren't really significant - just nature's thinning and a lot to clear up. We did have some very big trees from private gardens out onto the roads though."