The Willow Tree Legend

— #13 Route Stop

Overview Businesses on Main Street (East) The Italian Connection The Willow Tree Legend

The Weeping Willow

Along Main Street, floral planters, made to look like stacks of fishboxes, are located.  As a centrepiece is a small weeping willow tree as an acknowledgement to the willow which is a central status in the folklore of Newhaveners.

The Fishbox Planters are filled with flowers appropriate to the seaside such as thrift, achillea (yarrow), sea-holly, etc.  They have been planted up by the children of the new Victoria School, now in Windrush Drive on Western Harbour, and are watered and tended by them too.

In past times, willow was a most important raw material since it was used to make the fish creels which the fishwives carried. There is also a melodramatic Victorian poem about an old willow tree located at Willow Bank which gave rise to the street name.

Because of the name, the weeping willow, it was a theme used by many poets including William Thackeray and Lewis Carroll.  The author of this Newhaven version is unknown but its enduring significance is encapsulated in the couplet contained in the poem, “When the willow tree withers away,  the fishing trade shall also decay.” 

Part of the poem is inscribed on the wall of the Harbour Inn, a few short steps from here.

The ancient tree was protected by an iron railing but, by the end of the 19th century, Mother Nature had run her inevitable course.  Now, sadly, the tree and the fishing trade are gone and only the legend remains.