One of the National Trust's flagship properties, Cliveden House in Buckinghamshire - once the family home of the Astors and later more infamously associated with the Profumo affair - has a newly expanded fleet of five John Deere TE electric Gator utility vehicles, supplied by dealer Golf & Turf Equipment of Wokingham in Berkshire.
Use of electric vehicles is now particularly advocated across the Trust, because of their environmental advantages in reducing both noise and fuel consumption. The TE Gators are used every day by Cliveden House head gardener Andrew Mudge and his garden and estate maintenance teams, covering 80 acres of amenity grass and borders, as well as the catering department for moving supplies around the public outlets on site.
"Since we bought our first electric Gator three years ago, we've found them to be very reliable machines, and there's only been a problem with one battery terminal in all that time," says Andrew Mudge. "We now have three road going models in all in the fleet, which has effectively replaced our previous 4x4 vehicles, and on average we only need to recharge the vehicles once or twice a week.
"One of the Gators travels at least six miles a day to our furthest site in Cliveden village, where it's used for servicing the estate cottages and maintaining the grounds, and even that one doesn't run out of charge. Unless we were running the vehicles all day long without a stop, I don't think we would ever run the battery down during a normal day's work."
All five models are fitted with cabs and doors, to provide better protection for the driver, especially in winter. The estate maintenance team's Gator also has a TFM load canopy, to keep tools and equipment secure, and a similar canopy is being fitted to the catering department's model.
"Once the staff got used to driving a Gator instead of a 4x4, they loved it," adds Andrew. "It's the first choice now for most jobs transporting materials such as compost, small tools and equipment. You can easily load up a lawnmower too, using the tipping load bed, and it will easily pull our woodchipper along the roads and main pathways.
"We've also found that we don't really need four-wheel drive, even for driving up quite steep woodland paths, especially when there's some weight in the back. The Gator is more convenient and versatile than a tractor and trailer, and we can basically do everything with it that we need to."
John Deere Limited
Tel: 01949 860491
Fax: 01949 860490