A famous historic oak tree in Devon has collapsed.

The landmark ancient oak tree at Barton Cricket Club in Torquay is known locally as The Agatha Christie Oak, named after the famous thriller writer who lived in the resort in the last century.

Christie, who created the detectives Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot, used to sit under the tree at Barton Cricket Club to watch games.

Torbay Council announced on Tuesday half the tree had collapsed overnight and the remain part was diseased.

It said the remaining part would be removed for public safety.

The council has worked with the cricket club to preserve the tree, which is roped off in the car park of the club car park off Barton Road.

A replacement tree is expected to be planted.

The Agatha Christie Oak at Barton Cricket Club, Torquay
The Agatha Christie Oak at Barton Cricket Club, Torquay (Image: Torbay Council)

The council said in a statement: “It is with great sadness that we have to report that the veteran English Oak tree at Barton Cricket Club, known locally as ‘The Agatha Christie Oak’, has collapsed overnight.

 

“Unfortunately due to a large part of the tree, over 50%, falling over and the remaining section being diseased with much decay visible it will now have to be completely removed for public safety reasons.

“Working with Barton Cricket Club over the years we have done our very best to preserve this historical tree.

“It was identified that Agatha Christie used to sit under this tree, watch and score her favourite summer sport of cricket.

“Over the years many tree experts have admired this tree and provided technical advice.

“We have carried out restoration works to the canopy, removed the tarmac around the base of the tree and created a woodland environment to help improve the trees health.

“We have also protected the tree with a fence to reduce cars parking nearby.

The damaged tree at Barton Cricket Club, Torquay
The damaged tree at Barton Cricket Club, Torquay (Image: Torbay Council)

“The tree has been suffering for years with two wood-rooting fungi which forms on the bark or exposed wood.

“These decay fungi are among the most damaging of diseases, particularly in older trees. The decay renders the tree unsafe and we have been managing this decline but unfortunately overnight the tree failed.

“We will now be working with the cricket club to secure a replacement tree for future generation to enjoy.”

The young Agatha Christie, right, roller-skating on Princess Pier, Torquay, before 1914-18 War.

Agatha Christie produced 66 detective novels, a series of short stories and the world’s longest running play, The Mousetrap.

She was responsible for mysteries including Murder on the Orient Express featuring the Belgian detective Hercule Poirot.

Kenneth Branagh starred as Poirot in last year’s movie remake of Murder on the Orient Express, alongside Penelope Cruz and William Dafoe.

The writer was born in Torquay and died aged 85 in 1976.