Bonkers for conkers: When Norwich overthrew 'nanny state' council call

Residents of Bluebell Road, Norwich were outraged that their horse chestnut trees were going to be cut down

Residents of Bluebell Road, Norwich, were outraged that their horse chestnut trees were going to be cut down by Norwich City Council. Date: June 6, 2001. - Credit: Archant Library

Most conker battles tend to take place on the playground.

But twenty years ago, Norwich City Council caused a national kerfuffle when it threatened to fell seven Norwich horse chestnut trees on Bluebell Road.

The horse chestnut trees on Bluebell Road, Norwich in 2001

The horse chestnut trees that Norwich City Council threatened to fell on Bluebell Road, Norwich. Date: June 14, 2001. - Credit: Archant Library

In a letter sent to residents on June 8, 2001 the council deemed the conker-producing trees on Bluebell Road a hazard because they were on a busy road and growing too tall - apparently posing danger to the children collecting conkers underneath. 

Conkers on the horse chestnut trees in Bluebell Road, Norwich in 2001.

Conkers on the horse chestnut trees in Bluebell Road, Norwich. Date: September 8, 2001. - Credit: Archant Library

But locals were incredulous and rallied to defend the trees that had been planted in the 1970s and the Norwich Green party started a petition to protect them.

Rob Tinch from the Norwich Green party with the petition to save the trees in Bluebell Road, Norwich in 2001

Rob Tinch from the Norwich Green party with the petition to save the trees in Bluebell Road, Norwich. Date: June 14, 2001. - Credit: Archant Library

One baffled resident asked: "When was the last time a person was actually killed by a conker? It's the nanny state gone mad."

Looking towards traffic on Bluebell Road, Norwich from the horse chestnut trees lining the street in 2001.

Looking towards traffic on Bluebell Road, Norwich from the horse chestnut trees lining the street. Date: September 8, 2001. - Credit: Archant Library

Horse chesnut trees in Bluebell road, Norwich.

The horse chestnut trees that Norwich City Council threatened to fell on Bluebell Road, Norwich. Date: June 14, 2001. - Credit: Archant Library


You may also want to watch:


The debacle drew national attention with The Sun, Sky News, ITN and BBC covering the story.

The media frenzy caught Norwich City Council off-guard and it made a u-turn within a month.

For more nostalgic content like this subscribe to our new Through the Decades newsletter by clicking here

Norwich Evening News front page from the Archant and EDP archives on June 13, 2001.

Norwich Evening News front page from the Archant and EDP archives. Date: June 13, 2001. - Credit: Archant Library

Norwich Evening News front page from the Archant and EDP archives on June 16, 2001.

Norwich Evening News front page from the Archant and EDP archives. Date: June 16, 2001. - Credit: Archant Library

Norwich Evening News front page from the Archant and EDP archives on July 3, 2001.

Norwich Evening News front page from the Archant and EDP archives. Date: July 3, 2001. - Credit: Archant Library


Most Read

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter