Described by Nikolaus Pevsner as the 'most splendid 19th Century mansion in the country' Wynyard Hall in the Tees Valley is now a luxury country house hotel. And its grounds are being maintained to the highest standards by Mark Birtle and his team using a Progressive TDR-15 roller mower from the Grass Group.
The versatile tri-deck mower cuts 120 acres of parkland, including two amenity areas in front of the house which lead down to a landscape lake.
Mark explains that the requirements for the parkland are particularly exacting: "The owner does not want visible grass clippings, so the sward is cut from 3in down to 2in, once a fortnight, or once a week around the hall itself. It takes two to three days to cut, depending on the weather, and the TDR-15 does an excellent job."
Purchased three years ago to replace a set of trailed gangs, Mark says that not only does the TDR-15 cut more quickly and efficiently, it also offers an improved finish, with no unslightly clippings left behind.
The mower has also revolutionised clearing up after the bulb flowering season, he adds: "We have two bulb areas, and once they stopped flowering, it used to be necessary to flail the stems, wait for the cuttings to dry and then pick them up with a mower collector. In just two cuts, the TDR-15 disperses all the clippings so there is nothing to pick up - it is much easier and less labour intensive."
Mark comments that on the undulating parkland, the tri-deck design closely follows ground contours and the rollers leave an attractive striped finish.
"It is far superior to using gangs, but is also simplicity itself to operate and care for - we have to cross a couple of historic bridges, and the decks fold neatly for transport."
The 4.7m cut mower is pulled by an 80hp tractor, and Mark comments that it is a frugal piece of kit. "When I saw the TDR-15 being demonstrated it did not seem to be power-hungry, and it has certainly proved that here, even on the bulb areas and on undulating ground."
Ease of maintenance and simplicity are major plus points that Mark also picks out.
"It is a robust, simple machine which has proved itself admirably at Wynyard Hall," he comments. "There is so little to go wrong - when it goes out in the morning I know it will come back in one piece. I have only sharpened the blades once in three years, yet the quality of cut remains consistently high."
He adds that he has also enjoyed excellent back-up from their local dealer, Lloyd Limited of Bishop Auckland, who have maintained a keen interest in the machine.