Bedford U3A’s contribution

Addison Memorial Tree

On 11th December 2011 there was a brief ceremony in the Addison Howard Park when Clive Smith planted a replacement memorial tree. This was the culmination of over a year’s efforts by Kempston Local History Society members Clive and Jean Smith, and Jackie and Peter Horn. Clive’s father, Mr. E.E.Smith (Chairman of the Urban District Council) was present at the original planting and made a speech about the Howard family. Clive was only four years old at the time and did not attend. It seemed appropriate that Clive should plant the replacement tree!

However it all began with Bedford U3A when Chris Lock a member of our genealogy group suggested that for our display at the 2010 AGM we should research the family history of Addison Howard for whom the hall was named. Parish records, wills and newspaper articles were searched and a family tree was produced for our display. It was discovered that a tree had been planted by Mary Howard, Addison’s mother, when her gift of the parkland to the people of Kempston was formally presented, but no-one was able to locate the tree, which we had intended to photograph for our display. After some time it was established that the tree, a silver birch, had died.

At this point the Kempston Local History Society took over and representations were made to the council that the tree should be replaced together with a memorial plaque. Eventually it was agreed that this should be done and a walnut tree was chosen for the purpose. Larissa Clarke, Parks Officer found a fine specimen and arranged to have the necessary hole dug and the post and plaque put into place.

Apparently there were at one time 365 walnut trees growing in this area to provide wood for rifle stocks for the army. This combined with the facts that Addison Howard died on the Somme, the walnut tree being the symbol of Kempston and that walnuts are a very long-lived species made it most appropriate.

So now if you go up to the house at the end of the drive in Addison Park and turn towards Bedford Road you will see a newly planted tree with a memorial plaque on a stout wooden post. A most satisfactory outcome to something that started with one of our groups.