0 “Maintaining this Green and Pleasant Land”.

"Maintaining this Green and Pleasant Land".

By Graham Robson


The maintenance of the grounds of a Great British icon like Oxford University would seem to be a daunting task. But Walter Sawyer and his team rise admirably to the challenge.

Walter Sawyer is Head of, and Superintendent of, the University of Oxford's Parks Department. As such he has responsibility for both the long-term strategy of the department and it's day to day running. He has a team of 28 staff, including a technical officer, arborists, area supervisors, full time gardeners, and an administrator, who all work towards keeping those revered grounds up to the mark.

The team provides a full horticultural service for the University, with work as diverse as grass cutting, border maintenance, running a nursery, and arboreal work. They look after over 170 sites in and around the city, ranging in size from a few hundred square feet up to 70 acres. However, the area of responsibility is constantly shifting as the University acquires new sites and uses existing sites for new buildings. Walter explained that this leads to an even greater variety of work, as the team then gets involved in landscaping the areas around the new buildings.

The department is run on a semi-commercial basis and is very much market driven. The needs of the customer are paramount. "Flexibility is the key to survival", said Walter. "We have many college customers and we try to give them what they want." However, the Parks Department not only works for the University and many of the colleges, but also raises half of its income from private work for local companies.


Obviously the equipment owned and run by a department like this is crucial. With his grant falling in real terms year on year, Walter has to make sure that the money goes far and lasts well. With investment in new and replacement equipment pitched at between £60-70,000 per year, he needs a reliable supplier, such as local dealer PA Turney. "We get good advice from Turneys - good expertise. We have a good working relationship with them", Walter explained.

He has had Lewis trailers and loaders as a package from Turneys and has been very pleased with them. "Turneys know the Lewis range and recommended them to me; we have been impressed with how the designs of their loaders have developed over the years." In daily use, as part of the £650,000 fleet, the Lewis loaders and trailers serve their purpose well in this demanding and diverse work schedule.

As the Parks and gardens of the University look impeccable, it seems that Walter should get full marks for his task of successfully juggling staff, equipment, and funds.

More Information on Lewis Equipment call Graham Robson: Telephone :- 01789 297000

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