Leeds Mercury (24/Jun/1939) - Notes and Queries: Trees in Digley Wood

This page is part of the Holmfirth Flood Project and its content is believed to be in the Public Domain.
The following is a transcription of a historic newspaper article and may contain occasional errors. If the article was published prior to 1 June 1957, then the text is likely in the Public Domain.


Trees in Digley Wood

The account of a stone which had been found embedded in a tree from Digley wood, the site of Huddersfield’s new reservoir, reminds me that up to some years ago there were two trees in the same wood which attained more than local fame.

One of these was known as the Flood Oak. It grew beside the stream about two hundred yards below the embankment of the Bilberry Reservoir, which burst in 1851 [sic], causing appalling loss of life in the valley below. Visitors used to be shown the Flood Oak, which it was said saved one man’s life during the flood. Although it was right in the path of the waters and received the full force of the current the tree remained standing and this man, who had climbed it as his own way of escaping instant destruction, was able, when the flood had passed, to descend to the ground again.[1]

The other well-known tree was one which grew from the top of a tall mill chimney about a quarter of a mile below the Flood Oak. The chimney, like the oak, withstood the terrific onset of the flood even though the mill which stood beside it was swept away. Many years afterwards a seed must have been borne along by the wind or dropped by a bird and lodged in the masonry near the top of the chimney. It took root there and for years the tree could be seen growing larger and larger on a lofty perch. At last it disappeared, probably having grown to such a size that its roots could not support it, but there are numerous photographs in existence which will preserve a record of this curious sight.


  1. The story about someone climbing the tree to save their life is almost certainly apocryphal, as it is not to be found in any of the contemporary articles published about the flood. The oak tree is believed to have survived as it had no lower branches, so the force of the flood water broke around the trunk. On the night of the flood it rained heavily, so it would have been extremely difficult for someone to have climbed a slippery thick trunk without having any branches to grab hold of.