Oxleas Woods: A still life in motion

RASHMEE ROSHAN LALL December 28, 2022

It’s coming up to the 30-year anniversary of Oxleas Woods’ dramatic reprieve. In July 1993, the British government withdrew the Oxleas Woods part of its so-called Roads to Prosperity scheme, that would have seen a six-lane motorway cutting through a woodland that goes back thousands of years.

Before we look back at the people power template created by the fierce campaign to save Oxleas Woods, consider what would’ve been lost if this ancient woodland had been part of the road to prosperity scheme. Oxleas Woods is a still life in motion. Look at the many tableaux of a winter’s afternoon:

The old order changeth.

The touchy-feely fallen.

Lichen lacquers stray branches. The moss paints roots and trunks in shades of green.

Leaves nest in a dry hollow.

A tree sticks arms and fingers into the sky as if to say “ye gods”.

A nosegay of leaves.

A jemima of toadstools.

A colony of fungi like a sebaceous rash.

A trunk, polished to a shine by the elements.

A wooden hammer au naturel.

A leaf-porcupine’s quiff.

A sinuous curved trunk makes a natural bench – all it needs is an upholstered seat in the centre.

The road less travelled.