Sunday, November 11, 2012

Planning in the London Burrow of Redbridge

young rabbits in a typical Redbridge classroom

Below is an extract from Ron Jeffries’ new book, “A slice of this and a bit of that”. It includes chapters about ‘Health and safety fanatics’, ’Moonlight skating in 1917’, ‘The day the Olympic Torch came to Redbridge’, ‘KIPPERS!’, ‘The day God did not come to the Park’, ‘When Sainsbury’s gave me something for nothing’, ‘The Olympic experience’, ‘I have been robbed in Nigeria’, ‘Of Fairlop Fair revived’, ‘Too expensive for Ilford’, and a series of ‘Fables for the Twenty-first Century’.

Fables for the Twenty-first Century (1)
The tale of the Old Oak Tree

Once upon a time, when the sun shone in summer, throughout the day, bright and warm in an azure blue sky, and soft, refreshing rain sprinkled the earth gently at night, Mr and Mrs Jolly Bunnykins and their family lived happily in Hatch Warren.

Mr Bunnykins was a water-colour artist of some repute, who painted scenes of rustic charm and churches of great antiquity, whilst Mrs Bunnykins busied herself around the burrow, catching the bunny bus weekly to market to buy the foods and provisions that the family could not grow on their allotment.

Their neat and tidy burrow lay beneath an old oak tree that was said to be at least 100 years old. It was, indeed, a mighty oak, so much so that the local Council had placed upon it a Tree Protection Order (TPO) – and many said “Good for them!” Its mighty boughs offered protection to the snowdrops and bluebells, the foxgloves and harebells, and to the Bunnykins children who would gambol on the greensward with other bunnies, whilst the multitudinous Sparrow Clan found shelter amongst the leaves and acorns.

Sadly, Mr Bunnykins went to the Bunny home in the sky and Widow Bunnykins sold the family burrow to move nearer her daughters, who lived amongst the upper crust in the posh parts of the woods.

Mr Silas Rabbit, the new home owner, applied for planning permission to extend the burrow upwards and outwards with many ensuite bedrooms, and to build what he described as a gymnasium at the far end of the garden, but which everyone (including the planners) knew was in reality a bunny bungalow – enabling Silas to move in his extended family.

Unhappy that his new homestead would be in the shadow of a mighty 100 year old oak tree, Silas was happy enough when his bunny builders drove flatbed lorries into his garden and disgorged a heavy tonnage of burrow building materials over the roots of the oak – causing untold damage thereto – whilst smashing branches to splintering bits. Indeed, Silas was said to have been heard to say that he would kill off that old oak tree, TPO notwithstanding.

But other bunnies would have none of it. Some said that they were nosy bunnies, whilst others cried “Good for you, mate!” as they alerted the Bunny Council’s Tree Preservation Officer who came down onto Silas like the proverbial tonne of bricks, making Silas fence off the area over the roots and treat them with soothing medicinal concoctions to assist in their recovery, whilst threatening to take Silas Bunny to the Hatch Warren Assizes should he default even one iota and have him clapped in irons or placed for 100 hours in the stocks.

Moral: One or two alert and conservation-conscious bunnies can scupper the dark deeds of others.

Ron Jeffries

74pp with black and white cover photographs 
Publication November 2012 - ISBN 978-0-9561877-3-4 
Cover price £5 plus £1.50 postage and packing in UK
Discounted offer – £3.50 plus £1.50 postage and packing in UK
Available direct from the Publisher: Ron Jeffries,
Tel: 020 8599 7250 or Email for details.


  1. Hi, Ron

    Sold any copies to Redbridge libraries yet? They used to be obliged to buy books published by local authors, but that was before they were outsourced. Not sure of the current situation.

  2. ah thing you did not put in this wonderfully written piece,was that it may have been bunny silas's friends and fellow alikes,running the forest in the first place......

  3. Reports in the local press tend to suggest that in Deadbridge the Tree Preservation Officer kills off far more trees than does Silas.

  4. My experience of working with Christian Sheldon, the Redbridge Tree Protection Officer,is that he is a first class Officer whose only concern is the protection of trees in the Borough. When I needed his help, he responded within minutes - not hours or days but immediately. He is highly professional and very helpful.
    My thanks to jkm for his kind words about my writing. And no, Redbridge Libraries have not bought any of my books - not even the one on the history of Aldborough Hatch (which includes Fairlop Waters).

  5. Thanks for reminding me, Ron, that I have been away from Redbridge long enough to be unaware of many departures and arrivals.

    My remarks were certainly not directed towards Christian Sheldon whom I remember as a resident of the ward I represented. At least one of his predecessors, however, was greatly unloved by residents and fastidious to the point of being obsessive - and maybe even obstructive.

  6. I wonder if it is still the case that trees within a council park cannot be under Tree Protection Status and is deemed protected. Many hundreds of trees were removed during the restoration of Valentines grounds.

    1. I believe it is also the case that mature trees and vegetation on railway embankments can be removed by TfL without consultation with the council even if they have a TPO. They are exempt from the rules.

  7. Young John Howard seems to be pleased .... Click!