A century old walnut tree, one of the most famous landmarks in South Oxhey came to a spectacular end when it crashed across Hayling road on Monday.
The tree,which fell at around 11.40am, tore down overhead telephone lines and brought traffic to a standstill but no one was hurt.
Police and tree fellers were called to remove the debris and within ours the tree was reduced to firewood.
Neighbouring houses only metres from the tree, escaped disaster as the tree fell in the opposite direction.
The incident came as a complete surprise to residents, who harvested its walnuts for decades, because there were no evident signs the tree was rotting.
Only after the tree had toppled, following high winds on Sunday, it was discovered to be riddled with disease at te base of the trunk.
Woodlands officer for Three rivers district council, Mr Harvey Wardell, who retires next Wednesday, said: ” My career has certainly ended with a bang. I don’t think anyone will be as lucky again. It didn’t hit the houses, pedestrians or cars. The only things that were damaged were a few cables and the iron fence.”
Mr Derek Richards of Fulford Grove aid “I collected walnuts from the tree every September since I moved here 33 years ago. I thought there was something wrong with the tree because for the past few years the walnuts have been getting smaller. It i a real shame”
The tree was a popular learning resource for pupils from nearby Colnbrook primary school in Hayling Road and Warren Dell primary school in Gosforth Lane who studied its growth each year.
The tree marks the last part of the Crosse and Blackwell legacy, which created the estate and was planted at the request of Mrs Blackwell.
She also thought it should be preserved and instructed a fence be put around it.
The fence remained around the tree ever since but was replaced with a wrought iron design four years ago y Three Rivers district council.
The walnut tree also featured in the South Oxhey 50th anniversary celebrations last year, when pupils from Warren Dell wrote poems and songs about the tree.
Head teacher Mr Eddie Morrell believes it will be sorely missed by everyone.
He said ” It was a well known landmark and I don’t think there is anyone who has travelled along Hayling road who has not seen it. Last year we did lots of crazy things with the tree during the celebrations. We danced around it, fed it orange juice – people thought we were absolutely mad but the children had a great time.”
A slice of the tree will feature as part of a competition at the environment day tomorrow (Saturday) at Watersmeet Theatre in Rickmansworth.
Three Rivers district council has promised a new walnut tree will be planted.