Pupils from St Teresa’s Catholic Primary School in Heaton have helped launch a new audio trail about the history of Heaton Park just in time for the Easter holidays.
Told from the perspective of the trees in the park, Tree Trials and Tales shares stories of significant moments in Heaton Park’s 134 year history; from the founding of the Ouseburn Parks, the Heaton Mining Disaster, right through to the modern day and the coronavirus pandemic.
Developed by the Northumbria Veteran Tree Project, which aims to identify, map and celebrate Ancient, veteran, heritage and notable tress across Newcastle, North Tyneside and Northumberland, the free-to-download app is voiced by members of the local community, including children from St Teresa’s Catholic Primary School.
Nick Johnson, Project Officer from the Northumbria Veteran Tree Project, said: “Many of the trees in Heaton Park have stood for hundreds of years, and we thought it would be fascinating to tell the social and cultural history of the area from the perspective of the trees, because they’ve lived through it all.
“At each of the ten stops on the trial, an individual tree shares its story about life in the park; from the formation of Newcastle United Football Club and the opening of Heaton Park by the Prince of Wales, to the historic park temple and growth of the suffragette movement.
“One of the most poignant stories comes from a Lime tree – known locally as the memorial tree – which remembers those from the local community that have sadly lost their lives, including 41 men and 35 boys that died during the Heaton Mining Disaster of 1815.”
Each of the ten stories about the park’s history are narrated by members of the local community, including Anne Denton from The Friends of Heaton Park and Heaton History Group. Anne, along with her colleague Chris Jackson, committee member of Heaton History Group, also provided historical information to develop the stories.
Children from St Teresa’s Catholic Primary School in Heaton helped voice many of the tree’s stories, including the London Plane tree, which remembers the coming together of Newcastle East and Newcastle West End football clubs to create Newcastle United; the Pear tree, which recounts the visit by the Prince and Princess of Wales in 1884 to officially open Heaton Park; and the Sycamore tree, planted in the shadow of the park keepers lodge, that warmly remembers the local children teasing the park keeper.
Ms Bell, Forest School Leader from St Teresa’s Catholic Primary School in Heaton, said: “The project has been a wonderful experience for the children, it has given them the opportunity to be involved with the local community whilst also furthering their education in an engaging, creative and unique way.”
Sarah Capes, Ranger Team Leader at Urban Green Newcastle, said: “Tree Trials and Tales is a really fun, creative and engaging way for people to learn about some of the amazing trees in Heaton Park.
“It’s easy to forget that some of these veteran and notable trees have stood in this park for generations, making them an important part of our city’s rich history.
“By giving the trees a voice to bring the park’s stories to life, people get a real sense of why we need to care for and protect our green spaces. The trail shows how individual trees have a unique connection to our history.”
The Northumbria Veteran Tree Project was launched in 2018 and aims to identify, conserve and protect Ancient, veteran, heritage and notable trees in Newcastle, North Tyneside and Northumberland for generations to come. An interactive map showing the significant trees identified across the region is available on veterantreeproject.com.
Nick Johnson, Project Officer from Northumbria Veteran Tree Project, continued: “This trail is the first of five significant trails which have been created as a part of our Northumbria Veteran Tree Project legacy, with a trail around the town of Rothbury also completed and available on the app, and other trails planned for Belsay Hall, Northumberland Park and Hadrian’s Wall.”
Tree Trails and Tales can be accessed via the Veteran Trees app, which is available to download from the App Store (IOS) and Google Play (Android). Simply scan the relevant QR code below.
The app uses GPS technology to automatically play the audio trail at relevant locations in Heaton Park. A map is provided within the app to guide people along the trail.
For more information about the Northumbria Veteran Tree Project, visit veterantreeproject.com.