Christmas Eve, 2015 ... This one's a sycamore, and they tend to have shallow roots. Waterlogging of the soil after a long rainy December might explain what happened, but trees in the Meadows don't have the protection they would have in a forest, so they are anyway more vulnerable.
It looks like it was cut before it hit the ground, but I'm guessing the bench couldn't be avoided. Or maybe there just had to be a quick fix, given that this was Christmas. There's a spectacular photo on Twitter of the entire collapsed tree before it was chopped up. You have to get up early to spot this sort of devastation: the Council foresters are quick off their mark to deal with dangerous falls.
The final removal of all the trunk and roots, though, may happen months later. Here they are back in February, lowering the stump
The section of stump is immensely heavy and can't just be trundled off in a wheelbarrow
A few other trees came down over the Christmas week, including an elm also up by its roots over on North Meadow Walk - much to the excitement of a couple of girls who abandoned their bikes and were playing King of the Castle on it when I came by.
This one below (May 2011) was hit by an exceptional late-night storm, taking the forestry staff by surprise.
The whole tree was felled two days later.
Usually, park inspections pick up signs of vulnerable trees and the foresters are sent in for preventive felling, but there is the occasional serious accident, such as a falling tree smashing onto a car in November 2015 (fortunately no-one was badly injured).
However, it has to be said that leaving the trees by the bins for the binmen to take away is pushing their luck ;)
Winter winds have value: they disperse seeds and fruits. And the felled trees don't always end up as compost or wood chip. Some of the old Meadows elms have become furniture (see the Golf Tavern elms of Bruntsfield Links).
The Council has since planted a row of what look to me like columnar elms in front of the Tavern. So maybe years ahead in 2216, if civilisation survives, someone else will be writing about a row of fallen Links elms being made into furniture :)
Update February 2016:
Another elm was blown down beside the one that fell in December.
As you can see here, it fell right on top of the last one, which hadn't been dug up and taken away yet.
But while everyone was stepping round it ...
... I took a few snaps of the life left on display. It was in bud and well covered with lichen and moss.
Another casualty around the same time was the famous giant branch that Danny MacAskill did a backflip round.
One silver lining of treefall is that you get a rare chance (if you don't happen to own a cherry picker you can drive into the park) to take a really close look at the tops of these great old trees. You can peer into holes in the trunk where birds might nest and even just see buds that would normally be at least a yard above your head - thanks again to the forestry team, who prune low hanging branches for everyone's safety.
Here's a forester in June 2016 about to lop some dead branches off a mighty old elm in front of Quartermile