The connection between Cedars Park and the American town of Waltham, Massachusetts


The town of Waltham, Massachusetts in the United States was established in 1634 by settlers from Waltham Cross, Hertfordshire, England. In 1930, Joseph B Franklin Esq, Chairman of Cheshunt Council, visited the American Waltham for an early celebration of the tercentenary of the town's founding. He was gifted an Amur cork tree, which was planted in Cedars Park on his return home. The visit and donation were marked by a plaque, which is no longer in Cedars Park.

This was followed up in 1941 with additional gifts from America to England of a mobile canteen worth $1500 ($21,000 today) to the (at the time) joint towns of Waltham Cross and Waltham Abbey. The current location and condition of the mobile canteen are unknown. After the tree died from storm damage, the American Waltham kindly donated a new one in August 1980, which later died. A new tree was planted in recent years, which was ring-barked in 2019 (likely by muntjacs) and died in 2020.

Ironically, today the Amur cork tree is considered a noxious weed by the State of Massachusetts, however there is no doubt that the donation was good-natured!


English newspaper article dated 9 July (1941)

WALTHAM (MASS.) TO
WALTHAM (ESSEX)
___

Residents of Waltham, Mass., U.S.A.,
have decided to show their sympathy with
their namesake town, Waltham Abbey,
Essex, by providing, at a cost of 1,500
dollars, a mobile canteen for the use of
the joint parishes of Waltham Abbey and
Waltham Cross.  Further practical help
is also promised.

The American Waltham, a town of
about 50,000 inhabitants, takes its name
from this Essex locality, from which
many of its original settlers came.  The
news of the gift was read by Mr J. B.
Franklin, J.P. who ten years ago, when
chairman of the local Urban Council,
visited America as the guest of Waltham,
Mass., on the occasion of that town's ter-
centenary.

Some years ago the American city pre-
sented an Amur cork tree to Waltham
Cross, and this rare plant, the only one
of its kind in this country, is flourishing
in the Cedars Park, Waltham Cross.

A prominent American Walthamite,
writing to Mr J. B. Franklin, says: "We
Americans admire the gallant fight you
Englishmen are making for the cause of
democracy."


Plaque

AMUR CORK TREE
PHILLODENDRON AMURENSE
COMMEMORATING
VISIT OF
JOSEPH B. FRANKLIN ESQ.
WALTHAM CROSS HERTS ENGLAND TO
WALTHAM MASS. U.S.A.
MASSACHUSETTS BAY TERCENTENARY

AUGUST 1930

The spelling 'phillodendron' appears to be erroneous and confused with the 'philodendron' plant. The current correct spelling for the tree is phellodendron, however it may have been different in 1930.

(Webmaster's Note: I am not sure of the current location and condition of the plaque.)


Damage and death of tree

After the newest cork tree was severely ring-barked, Tarant Hobbs attempted to save it using a mud plaster technique, which was successful in extending its life, however the tree later died and was removed.

Video from March 2020