Maintaining standards at Shrewsbury School
By Laurence Gale MSc
Anthony Hough has taken over as the new Head Groundsman at Shrewsbury School, one of England's oldest and largest independent boys' boarding schools. Standing in a hundred and fifty acres of grounds, the school is set high on the banks of the River Severn overlooking the ancient town of Shrewsbury.
Anthony was keen to work at the school because of its reputation as being one of the best Independent Schools in the country, offering a wide range of sporting facilities.
In 2001 Shrewsbury school won the Independent Schools F.A cup at Leicester City's Filbert Street.
" Ken and Alan have improved the pitches considerably during their time here and I am keen to continue this improvement," said Anthony. " I want to bring Shrewsbury school to the forefront of quality when it comes to the grounds and gardens."
The last four months have been spent getting to know his staff and getting a feel of how the school runs. However, Anthony knows only too well that the reputation, appearance and preparation of the school facilities are the priority.
" First impressions are everything," continued Anthony. " We are in the frontline in terms of marketing the school. If the grounds and gardens are well presented it gives a positive impression to all those who see and use these facilities."
Anthony has already completed a soil and chemical analysis of the pitches, measuring particle size distribution (PSD), soil pH and nutrient status. Understanding the present conditions of the soil profile will help him determine the appropriate level of maintenance required. The soil tests identified that the pH on the pitches is low. One pitch in particular had a pH of 4.5 and, as a result, bi-annual applications of dolomitic limestone are planned to correct the problem.
The football fields are well used with matches being played every day. Anthony was keen to implement an intensive regime of aeration works as soon as possible. This has already been completed and the surfaces top dressed, applying about 60 tonnes of sand per pitch.
Anthony is in the process of putting together a medium to long term management plan for the school grounds. The plan sets aims and objectives detailing how the school can continue to improve the way they manage, promote and maintain their sports facilities.
Anthony is confident that, with support from the Bursar and his staff, the standard and reputation of the playing fields and grounds will continue to improve and play a significant part in promoting sporting activities and education at the school for many years to come.