Have you ever fallen in love with a tree?
Welcome to the Happy Man Tree Project. The Happy Man Tree is a 150 old tree that was felled in 2021. We say ‘is’ as the tree is still alive in art, film and memories.
There is a completed film and a forthcoming exhibition focussing on the last months of the tree’s life. These will be shown in October 2023. The film will be shown in cinemas and community venues around the UK before being released on digital streaming platforms in December 2023. The Exhibition will focus on the theme of loss, and explore the absence of the Happy Man Tree - it will open for a week at the same time as the premiere of the film in October.
You can watch the trailer here.
Can you help us? We need help in many ways:
Please sign up below to our e mail list so we can send you updates about the project.
Follow us on social media and like our posts
Spread the word about the HMT Project on your social media platforms and in person
If you would like to know more about the Happy Man Tree please take a wander through our archive here which is the chronicle of the last months of the trees life.
Our tree, the Happy Man Tree, is cut down
5 January 2021 Early this morning a large group of security, bailiffs and police arrived to take possession of the tree and cut it down. After a couple of hours our valiant tree defender was removed from its branches and later arrested for breach of the peace.
This is a very sad end for the community who campaigned to save the tree, but thank you to everyone for your amazing support.
See photos and video
See articles: The Times Metro inews Daily Mail Hackney Citizen Hackney Gazette
All we want for Christmas is the Happy Man Tree! Peace and love.
12 December 2020 Our new mural.
Injunction papers served
11 December 2020 Late Friday afternoon, high court injunction papers were posted on the #HappyManTree. Under the terms of the court decision in June, the developers can not act to remove campaigners until 9am Sunday. Watch this space!
The Happy Man Tree is Tree of the Year 2020!
22 October 2020: We are delighted with the announcement that our much loved 150 year old local tree has won the popular vote for the Woodland Trust’s Tree of the Year for England for 2020.
This is a wonderful show of support, not only for the Happy Man Tree, but for all the overlooked street trees across the UK that are a vital part of our efforts to reverse the climate and ecological crisis and which mean so much to their communities.
Huge thanks to the Woodland Trust and everyone who voted for the Happy Man Tree.
The future of the Happy Man Tree is uncertain as planning permission which includes felling the tree has been granted. We look to Hackney Council and Berkeley Homes to do the right thing and redesign the development to allow the tree to continue where it has already stood for 150 years. Failing this, we are currently fundraising to explore options for a further legal challenge with the aim of saving the Happy Man Tree for future generations of Woodberry Down residents.
Our full statement Woodland Trust press release
Thank you to everyone who supported our recent fundraising for a new legal challenge. We have many concerns about the process around the decision to cut down the Happy Man Tree, and have always aimed to take these as far as possible. However, after detailed advice from our legal team and much discussion, we concluded that the grounds for a further legal challenge would have only a very slim chance of success.
Special thanks to those who went the extra mile to raise awareness and money and the organisers of the fundraising talk on London Plane: the trees that define the city on 19 November. A big thank you to Paul Wood (author of 'London is a Forest', 'London's Street Trees' and 'London Tree Walks') for a wonderful talk and to Gareth Evans for facilitating.
Fundraising for another legal challenge
Honouring the trees
This exhibition on the hoardings behind the Happy Man Tree is honouring the 51 other trees due to be felled during Berkeley Homes Phase 3 development.
The exhibition is an invitation to notice these trees and perhaps visits them while there is still access.
Whatever happens now in Phase 3, it is clear that Phases 4 and 5 must have trees firmly in mind from the start. The development must work with and around the trees on the site, incorporating them into the thinking and design. So many have already been lost.
A little about the tree
Drawn on an ordnance survey map in 1870, the Happy Man Tree is over 150 years old.
This beautiful London plane tree grows on the public pavement on the North End of Lordship Road on Woodberry Grove, London N4.
It has survived a century and a half of building development, two world wars, road widening schemes with the arrival of the motor car and, so far, Berkeley Homes. But now, in this latest intervention, this majestic and much-loved tree has been condemned to be cut down by Berkeley Homes & Hackney Council.
The decision to fell the Happy Man Tree
At the planning meeting on 9 September, Hackney Council re-affirmed their decision to go ahead with cutting down the Happy Man Tree and to approve the application for Woodberry Down Phase 3.
Read our account of the meeting and the difficulties faced trying to get objections heard and discussed. This Hackney Citizen article also goes into interesting detail.
The Happy Man Tree qualifies as an amenity tree and the council are contradicting their own new local plan which states that all amenity trees (with biological, aesthetic and cultural value) must be retained. We believe that mature trees can and should be protected alongside meeting a community’s housing and other needs.
What we are asking for
The Friends of the Happy Man Tree includes many residents from across the Woodberry Down estate, Hackney and the neighbouring boroughs, as well as tree and environment experts. In the months that we have been providing a protective presence at the tree, we have had conversations with, and support from, hundreds of people.
The Friends of the Happy Man Tree believe that mature trees can and should be protected alongside meeting a community’s housing and other needs.
Other ways to support the campaign to save the Happy Man Tree
Join the wonderful community that makes up the Friends of the Happy Man Tree! See how you can help.
Email us: email@example.com
Over 27,000 people have signed the petition to save the Happy Man Tree. Please sign and share: www.change.org/savethehappymantree
See updates about what we have been doing and more photos of the tree and our activities!
“I came to the area when I got married 63 years ago. My sons went to a local school and the tree was always a big source of interest for them. It was always there. If they take the tree away, local history will go out of the window.
So much has already changed and it’s such a big part of Woodberry Down. People used to live in such a close knit way and the campaign has brought some of this feeling of local community back again.”
Sylvia, a resident and protector of the Happy Man Tree