Campaign to save Audi trees backed by son of the man who planted them

John Coles with old photographs of their house and garden. Picture: Kate Shemilt
John Coles with old photographs of their house and garden. Picture: Kate Shemilt

The son of the man who planted the threatened trees on the Worthing Audi site has come forward to praise the campaign to save them.

When Charles Coles moved to Angmering in 1927 with his wife, Minnie, he wanted to make their bungalow feel like home.

Charles Coles

Charles Coles

The green-fingered decorator planted rows of six copper beech saplings, alternated between six silver birches, running along the path from Roundstone Lane to their front door.

After the couple passed away, many of the trees were chopped down and their bungalow was demolished to make way for the Audi car dealership currently being built along the A259.

All that remains of their home are two of the copper beeches, now more than 90 years old. But their memory is under threat, as Worthing Audi applied to Arun District Council to chop them down.

A campaign to save them was started by Angmering residents – and now, the son of Charles and Minnie has praised their efforts. John Coles, 85, from Seaton Road, Wick, said: “I’m delighted so many people are coming out to support the trees. I would dearly like them to remain as a tribute to my parents.”

DM1853206a.jpg. Campaigning against felling trees in car park of new Audi dealership in Angmering. Photo by Derek Martin Photography SUS-180526-194001008

DM1853206a.jpg. Campaigning against felling trees in car park of new Audi dealership in Angmering. Photo by Derek Martin Photography SUS-180526-194001008

Born in Oxfordshire, Charles, known as Charlie, moved to London seeking his fortune and met his wife.

They moved to Angmering and rented the wooden bungalow, made out of First World War prisoner of war huts, with John being born in 1933.

As well as his memories of the trees, he recalled their home did not have gas, electricity or running water until he was three.

His father died in 1955 aged 71, and his mother died in 1956 at the age of 61. The bungalow was recently demolished by Caffyns, which will run the Worthing Audi franchise.

One of the trees planted by John Coles' father, Charles Coles

One of the trees planted by John Coles' father, Charles Coles

The trees currently have protection orders on them, which Caffyns has applied to remove. There are fears the trees’ roots have been damaged by the car park’s construction – but Caffyns said it was just following the plans approved by Arun.

If they are chopped down, John said: “My father will probably come back and haunt them!”

John Coles with his mother Minnie and father Charles in Worthing

John Coles with his mother Minnie and father Charles in Worthing