The mystery Soham shoe tree - just why are they all up there?

Soham shoe tree

Soham shoe tree - Credit: Archant

A tree covered in trainers in Soham has caused a burning question in the town - why exactly are they all up there?

Shoe street in Flensburg, Germany, Could this have inspired the shoe tree in Soham?

Shoe street in Flensburg, Germany, Could this have inspired the shoe tree in Soham? - Credit: Archant

The tree near the skate park has a variety of footwear tied together and strung over its branches.

One person on Soham Debate Facebook page said: “I always figured it was something to do with a kids club.”

But somebody else suggested: “Skaters chuck them when they get a fresh pair.”

Another person wrote: “I heard years ago it was a sign that you could get drugs in the area...not sure if that is the case.”

Straight Outta Soham - why are there so many shoes thrownn up in the tree near the skate park?

Straight Outta Soham - why are there so many shoes thrownn up in the tree near the skate park? - Credit: Archant


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But that theory was shot down by another debater who said that theory was laughable.

He said: “Maybe it’s the fact that when ol bill show up and you got pocket full, then u have reason to climb that tree - just getting ma shoes officer! Then obviously hide em in wrong pair lol.”

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Another observer wrote: “It’s because Soham is like Compton, LA, where they throw shoes up to signify the death of a rival gang member #GhettoLife.”

One woman said: “There was one pair up there for ages and I’m guessing others saw it and decided to chuck theirs up there too, some of them are expensive trainers I wouldn’t be a happy parent.”

According to Wikipedia shoe dangling, or shoe flinging is rife across the globe.

The Shoefiti in the Norderstraße (Northern Street) in Flensburg, Germany, is named by the New Yorker travel magazine Travel as one of the world’s strangest streets.

Ideas touted on the Wikipedia site include:

• Bullies steal a pair of shoes and put them in a place where they are unlikely to be retrieved.

• Practical joke played on drunkards.

• A newsletter from the mayor of Los Angeles, California, feared it showed sites where drugs were sold or worse, gang turf”.

• In some cultures, shoes are flung to commemorate the end of a school year, or a forthcoming marriage as part of a rite of passage.

• Military throw military boots, painted a bright color, as a rite of passage on completing basic training or leaving the service.

• Shoes tied together and hanging from power lines or tree branches signify that someone has died. The shoes belong to the dead person. The reason they are hanging, is that when the dead person’s spirit returns, it will walk high above the ground, closer to heaven.

• Another theory suggests shoes hanging from telephone wires signal someone leaving the neighborhood onto bigger and better things.

• There are currently at least seventy-six shoe trees in the United States,

• In many Arab cultures, it is considered an extreme insult to throw a shoe at someone. In 2008, Iraqi cameraman Muntadar al-Zaidi threw two shoes at United States President George W. Bush while he was visiting Baghdad and was arrested and incarcerated.

• Or it may be quite simply that shoe flinging is a way to get rid of shoes that are no longer wanted, are uncomfortable, or do not fit.

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