The A40 Shoe Tree

rynner2

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#1
Shoe tree mystery defeats £265,000 investigation
The mystery behind who keeps tying shoes to a huge ash tree remains a riddle despite a £265,000 National Lottery investigation.

Last Updated: 7:40AM GMT 08 Jan 2009

For 30 years the banches of a tree on the busy A40 have been bedecked by dozens of pairs of shoes, many hanging from their laces, tied neatly.

But a four-year project, funded by the National Lottery to discover why the shoes are dangled, has borne no fruit.

The shoe tree, between High Wycombe and Stokenchurch, Buckinghamshire, is currently decorated with around 50 pairs of shoes, ranging from tattered working boots to smart looking women's slip-ons.

More than £265,000 pounds of heritage lottery funding was granted to The Chilterns Woodlands Project to help provide a definitive answer - but just rumour and legend continue to live on.

Some say the shoe dangling ritual, which began in the 1970s, has pagan origins and has just continued over the years.

Others believe the shoes were originally thrown up as a witchcraft ritual to put a hex on unfortunate souls.

Local David Holmes, 45, said: "There are so many stories about why the shoes appear in the branches.

"Some say it was a form of toll payment by travellers, or a fertility ritual, but I think its probably a hoax that just carries on.

"Whatever it is, new shoes keep appearing, even now."

Preparation for an alien landing or good luck for newly-weds are other suggested reasons for the hanging shoes.

Rachel Sanderson, co-ordinator of the Special Trees Woodland Project, described the tree as "an absolute mystery."

"The lottery money to the Chilterns Woodlands Project was for a four-and-a-half year project to collect data and carry out research on special trees in the area.

"But in the case of this specific tree nobody knows quite why shoes are put on it, or quite when it started.

"It's one of those things, it's an absolute mystery."

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstop ... ation.html
 

Quake42

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#3
I used to drive past this tree all the time.

In cities I think that shoes on trees or (more frequently) power lines are supposed to indicate gang territory - although I have a niggling thought at the back of my mind that this might be an urban myth - but I can't imagine that is true of Stokenchurch!
 

James_H

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#4
Think we have a thread on this somewhere.
In Brighton all the power lines in the North Laine are covered in shoes, I think it's just a symptom of all these Brightonians desperately having to prove to the world how damned quirky they are - not marauding gangs of graphic designers and self-directing media nodes marking their territory.
 

feen5

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#5
I think the bigger story here is why the fuck was any of 265 thousand pounds of Lottery money been wasted on trying to find out who did it. Its not as if your going to need every penny you can scrap together to pay for an olympics or anything.......oh wait
 

mugwumpaddict

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#6
There are shoe trees all over the world.
I know of the shoe tree(s) in Armstrong Park, Heaton Newcastle. I went looking for pictures of it as it has many, many shoes in it. In this case the shoes in the tree(s) have been blamed on students (Newcastle university is near by). The shoes have been removed by the council in the past but always come back. It is a much loved feature of the park and i have even heard of people being married under the trees.

When i went looking for a picture or two of the Heaon shoe tree i came across this;
http://www.panoramio.com/photo/2390328
 

JamesWhitehead

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#7
feen5 said:
I think the bigger story here is why the fuck was any of 265 thousand pounds of Lottery money been wasted on trying to find out who did it. Its not as if your going to need every penny you can scrap together to pay for an olympics or anything.......oh wait
At least wait until you have read both descriptions in the original article of what the Lottery money was for. The second is correct. Whether it is proper may be debated.

"The lottery money to the Chilterns Woodlands Project was for a four-and-a-half year project to collect data and carry out research on special trees in the area."
 

escargot

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#8
I'm told that there's a 'dogshit tree' at the entrance to Bathpool Park near Stoke. :shock:
People scoop the poop, then tie the poo-bags to the branches.

Haven't seen it for myself, or smelt it, and don't want to. :lol:
 

linesmachine

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#9
To be fair to feen5 I was also questioning why the lottery had shelled out the cash. The piece intially implies the money was paid to solve the shoe mystery.

I'm surprised this story is making headlines, I'm sure it was in the press not that long ago, leae 90s/early 2000s maybe. I will have a dig around but I thought it was somewhere on this very site.
 

liveinabin

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#10
H_James said:
Think we have a thread on this somewhere.
In Brighton all the power lines in the North Laine are covered in shoes, I think it's just a symptom of all these Brightonians desperately having to prove to the world how damned quirky they are - not marauding gangs of graphic designers and self-directing media nodes marking their territory.
Must be a recent thing. I don't recall them when I lived there 10 years ago.
 

James_H

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#11
I haven't lived here for more than a couple of years so I can't comment. Does Carlos the DJ know?

On a related note, one has my friends has been asking for manky or discarded shoes, apparently intending to make a piece of art based on this kind on thing.
 

Zilch5

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#12
There is a shoe tree in the middle of the desert in Nevada. Just why people do this, I couldn't tell you...

click

Here in suburban Sydney, people constantly throw shoes over power lines. This isn't gang land though, so I don't suppose it's related to that.

Just teenagers being teenagers, I suppose.


massive pic made into a link - stu
 

stu neville

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#13
The ever reliable Straight Dope lists a few of the other supposed reasons / meanings etc here.

I'd been told about the drug dealer one a few times, then a few years back seemingly every line in the area became festooned with shoes. Increase in dealer population? No. Kids in a lower-middle class neighbourhood desperately wanting to make out they lived in a ghetto :D.
 
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