Billericay’s heritage tree

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Heritage tree
(L-R) Gary Thrussell, Jane Bennett, Tom Thrussell

Billericay’s diverse history

From coppicing hazel in Norsey Wood and growing watercress to tanning hides, brickmaking and weaving, Billericay’s diverse history has been captured for posterity in an eye-catching, metal art installation in Billericay High Street.

Commissioned by Bennetts Funerals, the Heritage Tree has been installed on the outside wall of the company’s office, The Old School House, near the High Street and Stock Road crossroads, where it will act as a focal gateway to the town.

Dedicated

The tree has been dedicated to St Luke’s Hospice with the aim of encouraging continued support for the charity which itself supports the local community.

Eileen Marshall, Chief Executive St Luke’s Hospice said: “We’re really proud to be associated with the Billericay Heritage Tree and also that Bennetts thought to put our name on it.

“We’ve worked with Bennetts for quite some time and we very much appreciate their support.

“Someone said that the Heritage Tree places us in the fabric of the Billericay community, which I think is a lovely thought.

“The community is so good to us. We’re very happy to help and support the community and with Bennetts’ help, we can do that even more.”

About two years ago, Jane Bennett, MD of Bennetts Funerals, came up with the idea of a heritage tree to depict the town’s history.

With support from planning consultant Jane Keane from Gidea Park and working with Billericay, Basildon and Essex County councils to obtain the correct permissions, Jane was able to see her idea flourish and finally reach fruition.

Metal Artists, father and son team, Gary and Thomas Thrussell of Thrussells based at Bodmin Moor, Cornwall, were commissioned to design and make the Billericay Heritage Tree.

Gary Thrussell, founder of Thrussells said: “We did a lot of research into Billericay’s history. Different aspects are represented in five plaques which hang in the branches of the heritage tree.

“The Reading Rooms, Red Lion and boating lake are there. Also the town’s links with The Mayflower, The Peasants’ Revolt and the First World War German Zeppelin that was shot down, crashing in a farmer’s field at Great Burstead.

Made from mild steel, the oak tree structure is supported by hidden metal rods. Each section of bark has been hand cut in strips and hand welded.

Unveiling

Local dignitaries joined Gary and Thomas Thrussell, representatives from St Luke’s Hospice and members of the Bennetts Funerals team for the official unveiling of Billericay’s new Heritage Tree by Jane Bennett last month.

“St Luke’s Hospice does fantastic work and like all hospices they always need more funding.

“We are pleased to do anything we can to support them in their dedicated work supporting the local community,” said Ms Bennett.

“The tree is a celebration of Billericay’s history and community.”

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