It is ten years ago this week since pub chain J D Wetherspoon boosted hopes that a tree once occupied by protesters could be returned to its East London home

Campaigners seeking to secure the return of an iconic tree to Wanstead, have been given a boost by the owners of a local pub.

J D Wetherspoon, who own The George in Wanstead, say they would be willing to discuss the possibility of housing the tree in the pub, if it was turned into a sculpture.

The 300-year-old sweet chestnut, which stood on George Green, was occupied by protesters opposing the construction of the M11 Link Road in 1993, and images of it were flashed around the world.

But it collapsed and, after being left outside Wanstead tube station for many years , it was eventually removed by The City of London Corporation last September.

The Corporation say the tree cannot be returned in its current condition and would need to be turned into a ‘craft-based commission’ paid for by sponsors.

J D Wetherspoon spokesman, Eddie Gershon, said: “The George is a landmark pub in Wanstead, which has been owned by J D Wetherspoon since 1992.

“The company has always been very keen on sculpture and commissioned art, and this (the housing of a sculpture made out of the M11 tree) is something it would consider if it felt it was appropriate for the pub.

“We would certainly be happy to enter into correspondence with interested parties about the idea.”

Doreen Jenkinson, 65, of Sydney Road in Wanstead was involved in the M11 protests and has been trying to get the tree returned.

She said protesters had held informal meetings in the George during the protests.

And she added: “If the tree can’t be returned to the Green in its current form, then I would prefer to see it as a sculpture than as a bench.

“But any sculpture would need to pay fitting tribute to the protests, and I think the people involved in the protests should be consulted.”

Members of local group the Wanstead Society, are also keen to see the tree returned to the area.

Society member Geoff Horsnell said: “We would be willing to have discussions with J D Wetherspoon if they were interested in housing a sculpture in the George.

“I’m sure we know a few people who are sculptors and might be interested in helping out.”

A City of London Corporation spokeswoman said: "We are currently discussing a possible public art installation with involves the remains of the Chestnut Tree with various London-based craftsmen.

"Given the close association between the George and the Green it overlooks, the Conservators would welcome the opportunity to work with Wetherspoons to commission an artwork worthy of this public open space."