School merger prompts pitch development

Carol Duttonin Industry News

School merger prompts pitch development

The impending merger of two prominent Leeds schools has prompted the development of land earmarked for sports pitches 10 years ago.

"We've had planning permission since before we moved here in 1997," says Rachel Kerr, director of marketing for Leeds Grammar School for boys, "but now, as we prepare to merge with Leeds Girls High School, we're taking up the option."

The two schools, established since 1552 (Leeds Grammar) and 1876 (Leeds Girls' High) will join forces in September 2007, housing all senior pupils in the current grammar school building and the juniors at the present girls high school. With 600 senior girls, the grammar school needs additional sports pitches to cater for hockey and other sports activities.

"At the moment we have 8 pitches of varying sizes catering for boys of different age groups," explains head groundsman Sheldon Bonner. "We play rugby till Christmas, football after Christmas and cricket in the summer."

Pugh-Lewis, the sports ground construction company who have won the contract have been involved with Leeds Grammar School for some time.

"Eighteen months to two years after this (present) school was built, we brought in Pugh-Lewis to sort out drainage problems on the pitches," continues Bonner. "We're on heavy clay soil, and the pipe drains had been installed at 11 metre spacings instead of the recommended 5 to 6 metres. Pugh-Lewis put in sand slits one metre apart at 90 degrees to the pipe drains, and the situation dramatically improved."

Since then, the company have returned every year for the last five years. "They've extended the drainage from the existing system so that we can utilise the off pitch areas for fitness training such as sprinting, and five-a-side football for the younger boys," Bonner explains. On one pitch, which was particularly bad, Pugh-Lewis used their Blec sandmaster to install sand bands, 250mm apart and 150mm deep. "I intend to repeat this additional supplementary drainage on two more pitches a year until they're all done," the head groundsman continues. "The improvement is impressive. Not only does the water get away faster which increases usability, but the root structure has strengthened, resulting in a more durable surface."

Sheldon Bonner has ensured that specifications for his new pitches put all pipe drains at 6 metre spacings. "We'll be installing sand slits at one metre centres and spreading 615 tonnes of sand over the 3 hectare site during cultivation," confirms James Pugh Lewis. "A further 300 tonnes of sand will be applied as a top dressing."

For further information on the drainage and construction services of J Pugh-Lewis Ltd. contact the company on Tel: 01773 872362 or visit their website at:

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