County News - Kent January 11, 2005

Lime tree at Canterbury reduced to a stump

Cricinfo staff

The remains of the lime tree at Canterbury © Getty Images
The famous lime tree at Canterbury's St Lawrence ground has been toppled by high winds over the weekend. It was one of English cricket's landmarks, and managed to survive the hurricane of 1987. But after swirling gales lashed Kent, only a seven-foot stump now remains.

The 60-feet high tree, which is inside the boundary rope, was at Canterbury even before the ground staged its first first-class match in 1847. It had been poorly for a few years although it had been expected to last a little while longer.

In the past, all hits which touched the tree counted as four runs, no matter how high they hit. Only three players were officially recognised to have hit a six over the tree. West Indies's Learie Constantine cleared the branches against Kent (although there is dispute over whether the match took place in 1928 or 1933); Middlesex's slogger Jim Smith smacked the ball over the top in 1939 during an innings which contained six other sixes; and in 1992 Carl Hooper did so on his Kent debut against Durham.

"It's been in intensive care for several years and we planted a substitute about four years ago in anticipation of this sad day," Paul Millman, Kent's chief executive, told BBC Kent. "There's the debate about tradition versus the future, but I know many people will be keen to see tradition upheld. This tree is more than 200 years old and I think one has to bear in mind that past. I think most people would want the tree replaced."