CHILDREN collecting conkers ran for their lives in September, 1975, when a tree crashed to the ground in Blackbird Leys.

Paul Smith, 11, of James Street, said the 35-foot horse chestnut missed him by about a foot as it fell in Windale Avenue.

The tree was one of 37 brought down in Oxfordshire by gales that disrupted traffic and electricity supplies.

Paul said: "I was just getting some conkers down and I heard a big crack. I just ran. It missed me by about that much," he said, holding his hands about a foot apart.

Bryan Douglas, 13, of 32 Moorbank, Blackbird Leys, said: "We heard this cracking noise. A lot of kids were standing under it but they all ran. About five seconds later it fell."

The tree hit the back of a car and blocked the avenue, which was a cul-de-sac.