Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Health and safety, or conserving a piece of history?

The latest example of the Mail's 'hilarious' misspelling of 'health and safety' appears in this headline:

The article begins

The apple tree which inspired Sir Isaac Newton to develop his theory of gravity has fallen victim to health and safety rules after tens of thousands of visitors damaged its roots.

'Fallen victim to health and safety'? How so?

The 400-year-old Flower of Kent apple tree has had a protective barrier fitted in the grounds of Woolsthorpe Manor, in Woolsthorpe-by-Colsterworth, Lincolnshire.


The 1ft-tall barrier allows visitors to get close to the tree without causing unnecessary damage to its root system.

National Trust conservation manager Margaret Winn said: 'The tree is getting on for 400 years old and we wanted to protect it.

So is this really health and safety, or a conservation measure to help protect a piece of history?

Ann Moynihan, support officer at the National Trust property of Woolsthorpe manor, said today that the work will protect the tree 'for the future'...

'We now have over 33,000 visitors every year and...
the sheer volume of visitors has compacted the earth around the trunk and affected the roots.

'The willow barrier is an unobtrusive way to protect the tree for future generations to enjoy in the years to come.'


Mrs Moynihan denied the fence... was a response to any health and safety concerns.

It appears a local newspaper article has, once again, been picked up and churned by the Mail with the health and safety 'angle' added on.

At time of writing, there are 22 comments on the Mail's article - apart from one blaming 'Gordon Brown and his EU pc brigade', almost every comment criticises the Mail.

This is 'Tree Hugger' from 'Darkest Kent':

Where does Health & Safety come into it, DM? Why write this story from an 'anti' perspective rather than a 'pro'? This is a willow barrier, sensitively designed to be in keeping with the immediate environment. There's nothing 'H&S' about it. Sounds like a good idea to me.

Akela from Cambridge:

This appears to be about conserving a piece of history and nothing to do with health and safety. Someone got paid to write this rubbish? Good grief.

Stephen in Cambridge:

So "victim" actually means "protected from more damage". What's the weather like on your planet, DM reporters?

And Dave from Grantham:

I love it, being a local lad I've visited Woolsthorpe a few times and have to say I agree with the other comments here, the DM has it totally wrong, read the article and articles in local papers and you realise this barrier is about protecting the tree from the risk of root compaction, nothing more?! At the end of the day a 400yr old tree being visited by over 30,000 people a year, it needs a bit of love and attention!

(Hat-tip to BarnetAkela)


  1. the comments have been taken down...

  2. Anonymous - Comments are back up now. But the article has had a re-write and the first line mentioned above has changed - the words 'fallen victim to health and safety' have been dumped.

  3. Can I point out that Newton and the apple tree is even more of a myth than usual.
    This was Newton's stock reply to those who pestered him by asking how did he work out his theory of gravity? - 'I sat and watched the apple fall from that tree'. or in other words 'Go away and don't bother me.'


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