‘Outcry’ at brewery plans to get rid of rare trees outside Canonbury Tavern

The Canonbury Tavern and one of the offending trees of heaven pictured in 2016. Picture: Des Blenkin

The Canonbury Tavern and one of the offending trees of heaven pictured in 2016. Picture: Des Blenkinsopp/Geograph/CC BY-SA 2.0 - Credit: Archant

Leafy Canonbury is on the verge of a tree tragedy.

The brewery that owns the Canonbury Tavern, in Canonbury Place, wants to get rid of two enormous and rare trees of heaven to the side of the famous boozer – where George Orwell wrotes parts of his dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four.

The Canonbury Society, a group that works to “conserve the special character” of the area, has campaigned against the plans. It reckons the trees are as old as the pub itself – which dates back to the 19th century.

The application to Islington Council was lodged last month by Young’s Pubs, a Putney brewery that owns the Tavern. The submission claims the two trees of heaven are rotting, but offers no evidence to support this. It also wants to get rid of two sycamore trees that are “pushing” against the pub beer garden walls.

Philip Walker, chair of the Canonbury Society, told the Gazette: “There has been complete outcry.

“Trees of heaven are quite rare – we think there are only four in Islington. They are really beautiful specimens and there doesn’t seem to be any evidence of disease.

“It needs technical detail and we would have expected a proper report. We’re quite confident Islington Council will refuse this as there simply isn’t any evidence.

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“Commercially, it would also be bad for the pub. The trees offer shade and noise insulation. Without them, the building would be pretty stark.”

The campaign has been passionately backed by Canonbury character Gary “the man behind the easel” Power – an artist who makes his living painting street scenes around the area.

He said: “I love these trees – I’ve painted them before. I know I’m being a little bit weird but they are lovely trees, so majestic, and it seems a little bit criminal to get rid of them.

“We’re not looking for a rumpus with the pub, but it doesn’t seem right.

“I was speaking to a woman in her 90s who remembers them when she was a child, so that gives you an idea of how ingrained they are in the area.”

Young’s has not responded to the Gazette’s request for comment.