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Trafalgar Square Christmas tree undergoes 'branch transplant' to spruce it up

Trafalgar Square's Christmas tree has been hailed as "the best in years" after undergoing a 'branch transplant' to improve its appearance.

The 70ft fir tree initially came in for criticism on social media as it arrived in central London on Monday morning following a lengthy journey from Norway.

Less-than-impressed social media users were quick to point out its brown, sparse, and asymmetrical appearance.

"Oh dear..." wrote one user on X, formerly Twitter, named Janet Ward. Another, named Areej, wrote: "I'm worried!"

"Is it me, or does it look quite dead?" said another user, while another asked: "Where's the other half of it?"

But Westminster City Council confirmed branches were removed from the tree in Norway for transportation, before being reattached as the tree was being erected in Trafalgar Square.

Tree surgeons hammered the severed branches back into the tree on Monday afternoon, to give it a more shapely and even appearance.

Dan Barker, who posted photos of the transformation on X, likened the process to "a hair transplant". "An impressively symmetrical job," he said.

Tree surgeons also removed dead branches and trimmed the fir's base so it could fit in its stand.

"It's beautiful," said another X user after photos of the final result circulated, while Jamie Lashmar said: "Probably the best it's looked in years".

This year's tree was grown in Nordmarka, a heavily forested area north of Oslo, and was around 70 years old and 19 metres tall when it was felled.

It was chopped down last week, at a felling ceremony hosted by the Mayor of Oslo, with special guests including Lord Mayor of Westminster, councillor Patricia McAllister, and British Ambassador, Jan Thompson.

After leaving the forest, it was driven more than 100km to the port of Brevik where it was loaded onto a ship to the UK. Following a short stay at UK customs, another lorry transported it to London.

The tree looked much more symmetrical after its surgery (Dan Barker/@danbarker)
The tree looked much more symmetrical after its surgery (Dan Barker/@danbarker)

One social media user shared a video on X on Monday, which appeared to show the tree being driven through London in the early hours on its way to Trafalgar Square.

It will be decorated in traditional Norwegian fashion - with vertical strings of energy-efficient lights - ahead of the official lights ceremony on Thursday, December 7.

The City of Oslo has sent a tree to London every year as a token of gratitude for British support for Norway during the Second World War.

The Trafalgar Square tree being cut down in Norway (Sturlason/City of Oslo)
The Trafalgar Square tree being cut down in Norway (Sturlason/City of Oslo)

According to the MailOnline, however, this year’s tree may be the last dispatched from Norway.

“It’s 50:50 whether another one will be given,” a guest at the felling is alleged to have said.

A source added that the new city council in Oslo is reconsidering the tradition amid environmental concerns.

They added: “They're going to evaluate the Christmas tree tradition, but there is a view that it is environmentally unfriendly and outdated.”

(left to right) The Right Worshipful The Lord Mayor of Westminster (Cllr Patricia McAllister) and Mayor of Olso (Anne Lindboe) (Sturlason/City of Oslo)
(left to right) The Right Worshipful The Lord Mayor of Westminster (Cllr Patricia McAllister) and Mayor of Olso (Anne Lindboe) (Sturlason/City of Oslo)

A Westminster Council spokesperson previously said: “We’re very grateful for all the Christmas trees we’ve received from Norway over the years and, of course, we hope this heartwarming tradition continues. As long as the people of Norway are happy to send a tree Westminster, London and the UK will gratefully receive it.”

Christmas trees are erected in cities and towns across the UK each December, but while many are seen as "Instagrammable", others have in the past gained recognition for the entirely wrong reasons.

Among them was a "puny", lopsided tree in Muswell Hill that sparked ridicule in 2018.