Rugby park sculpture to be removed

The sculputure when it was installed
The sculputure when it was installed

The Alice in Wonderland tree sculpture on the Whinfield Recreation Ground in Rugby is to be removed over health and safety fears after decay was found.

Plans are in place to preserve the intricate carvings in a project between Rugby Borough Council and Rugby Art Gallery and Museum.

A recent inspection of the sculpture revealed large cracks at the base of the trunk and a subsequent resistograph test confirmed significant decay extended into the trunk’s core.

As a result, the sculpture will have to be removed from the rec within the next few weeks to ‘protect the safety of the public’, the council said.

The tree’s intricate carvings show characters from Lewis Carroll’s classic children’s novel such as the white rabbit and the Mad Hatter.

The council’s discussions with the museum include considering presenting the sculpture in a new format at another location in town.

The sculpture was commissioned by the council in 2007 to extend the life of a dead ash tree rather than remove it.

Created by wood sculptor Andrew Frost, the Alice in Wonderland theme was chosen to celebrate Lewis Carroll’s connection with Rugby.

The author, whose real name was Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, studied at Rugby School for three years from 1846.

Cllr Lisa Parker, the council’s portfolio holder for the environment and public realm, said: “The Alice in Wonderland tree sculpture was an innovative way of extending the life of a dead tree, but it’s life was always going to be limited.

“Nevertheless, it’s with a heavy heart we have had to condemn the tree and arrange for it to be removed as we know it has become a much-loved attraction at Whinfield Recreation Ground.

“However, we have already started work with our team at Rugby Art Gallery and Museum to protect the carvings and hope to unveil the results of our preservation project in the near future.”