A visitor to Audley End Miniature Railway in Saffron Walden has raised concerns about tree safety after a branch destroyed her friend's car.

The visitor, who preferred to remain anonymous, visited the miniature railway to see Father Christmas on Saturday, December 9, along with friends and their children.

She said: "We have always thoroughly enjoyed our time there, however this year was very sadly spoilt by a branch from a tree falling onto my friend's car in their car park.

Saffron Walden Reporter: The tree fell on several cars in the car park at Audley End Miniature RailwayThe tree fell on several cars in the car park at Audley End Miniature Railway (Image: Supplied)

"Luckily, no one was hurt in the incident and my friend and her two-year-old son had got out of the car five minutes before it fell. However it certainly could have led to very serious injuries. 

"I completely understand acts of nature occur and very little can be done when it's windy, trees will fall after all.

"Unfortunately, after reviewing the photos I took, I could see this particular tree is covered in mushrooms and with one quick Google search it told me any sign of fungi nearby or on a tree is cause for serious concern."

The car was written off due to the damage, and Audley End Miniature Railway is working with insurance brokers to resolve the matter.

The visitor added: "In my opinion, the tree should have been cut down upon sight of decay and before they reopened the car park for the busy Christmas season.

"It worries me how many more trees in that car park are in the same state and what could happen the next time a branch collapses.

"It also made me concerned about how many more family-run events like this in Essex and Herts utilise a woodland area for parking with no risk assessment or due diligence for protection of the paying customers visiting the site."

A spokesman for Audley End Miniature Railway explained that due to the site's location within ancient woodland, many of the trees are subject to Tree Protection Orders, and that the care, maintenance and protection of trees is taken "very seriously".

He said: "As per our own risk assessments, which are reviewed every 24 months, we always seek professional help when it come to the trees' maintenance.


"We employ a professional external arborist company that visit the railway and does a full survey of every tree on site including the woodland car park and then they issue a report to the condition of each and every tree, that, in their opinion needs work or felling.

"It is recommended to have this report done fully every 24 months, but we always organise another interim report that is done every 12 months with a subsequent report issued on any trees that may need more work before the 24-month report comes out.

"What happened in the woodland car park is nothing short of a tragedy, but we are so thankful that no one was injured during this incident.

"I can assure you that we do everything possible to ensure that an occurrence like this doesn't happen."