Britain's 'oldest' artificial tree - which survived WWII - is put up for the 99th year

Caroline Allen
Contributor
The tree survived Hitler's bombs in World War II. [Photo: SWNS]

What’s believed to be Britain’s oldest Christmas artificial tree, which survived Hitler’s bombs in World War II, has been put up and decorated for its 99th Christmas.

Kay Ashton, 65, thought she’d lost her family’s beloved tree during a house move earlier this year.

As she began unpacking her things, she was distraught not to see it in any of her boxes.

Luckily, the tree which has defied all odds did so again and she found it (under her daughter’s bed) just in time for its 99th Christmas.

The miniature tree was bought for sixpence from Woolworths in 1920 and is currently on its eighth home.

The tree has become an integral part of the family, passed down through generations. [Photo: SWNS]

The artificial spruce is thought to be the oldest in the whole country.

It was bought originally by Kay’s grandmother, Elizabeth Naylor, who bought it to mark William, her newborn son’s first Christmas.

It was lovingly called “William’s Tree” which held even more meaning when William passed away aged just 19-years-old.

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Since then, William’s Tree has been passed down from Elizabeth to her daughter Joyce and then from Joyce to Kay.

It’s not just the original tree that’s special, either, the ornaments it’s decorated with are all 1920s originals, too.

The decorations are all 1920s originals, too. [Photo: SWNS]

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Grandmother-of-three, Kay, talks about the tree and the traditional role in plays in her household: “I remember it from being a child and it evokes memories of Christmases with family members that are no longer with us.”

"We were a big family, but we were close and I lived with my Nanan and her half-sister, my mum, dad and my sister, so there were six of us. It was a time when we were all together and it goes up year.”

“I think my Nanan would be really touched to know the tree is still going strong and being used - and so would William.”

Kay’s well aware that the tree hasn’t looked the best over the last few years, but with all the events in its history, it’s a wonder it’s still standing at all.

“It hasn't been the best looked after in all these years, but it has survived eight house moves and the blitz, so it must be robust somewhere.”

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The tree survived a blitz of Sheffield's steelworks in December 1940 when the city was bombarded by the Luftwaffe for three consecutive nights.

Kay’s great-grandmother kept the tree in the kitchen, but the blasts from the bombs were so strong it blew it into the living room.

“My nan and mum were told to leave the house by the air raid wardens because they were bombing Sheffield. But instead the whole family went down into the cellar. My Nanan had put a heavy wrought iron mangle against the back door to keep it closed.”

A bomb was dropped directly across the road which blew the back door open and blew the tree into the living room.

“The top of it had nearly come off and it's been bent ever since, but it was fixed with Sellotape and wire - some of the original bits of tape are still on the tree and I daren't take them off.”

It really is a Christmas miracle that it’s still up.

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