The Borough of Telford & Wrekin, like many other local authorities, are constantly looking at opportunities to improve their playing pitch facilities. In most cases their maintenance budgets do not cater for pitch improvements, especially for the provision and installation of primary and secondary drainage schemes.
It is often the case of waiting for the right opportunity to come along, such as Government funding or lottery money being available for these types of schemes.
As a New Town many of the council's playing pitches were built in the 1980's as part of Telford's Development Corporation's urban regeneration programme.
Being an old mining area many of the pitches were constructed from local tip materials and topped off with deposits of heavy clay. As a result many are not able to perform during the winter months.
Ketley Bank Playing fields was one such facility that suffered from poor drainage characteristics in the winter. The site comprises three pitches - two senior and one junior
For years the council has been waiting for money to install an effective drainage system.
Financial help finally came this year when a government initiative resulted in funds being made available to construct some new changing rooms and to install a pitch drainage scheme.
The works were put out to tender, using the services of the STRI and an independent consultant. Speedcut Contractors Ltd were awarded the pitch drainage part of the contract, valued at around 75K. Speedcut are members of the Land Drainage Contractors Association a body that promotes and validates the competence of companies.
I met up
with Kevin Smith, Speedcut's Contracts Manager, on site who explained what work was being carried out.
The job involved the installation of primary and secondary land draining schemes to all three pitches.
The main outfall drains running along the two senior pitches were installed to a depth of 700mm with 160mm diameter pipes. The junior pitch main drain was dug at the same depth but had a smaller 100mm diameter size pipe.
The main drains were installed at this depth to overcome minor backfalls on the site and to accommodate the laterals that were installed at 550mm depth.
A trenching machine with laser grade control ensured the drain runs were accurately installed to the required falls for the scheme.
The primary drainage system consisted of 80mm diameter lateral drains, installed at 5 metre centres to a depth of 550mm. Each lateral was backfilled with 400mm depth of 10-4mm size clean gravel, 50mm of blinding sand and then topped off with a 100mm depth of 70/30 medium sand rootzone material.
The secondary drainage system involved inserting sand slits at 1metre centres to a depth of 300mm which were backfilled with 150mm of clean gravel and 150mm of course sand.
On completion of the drainage works the whole area was vertidrained to relieve any surface compaction made by the machinery. Subsequently, the pitches received two applications of sand topdressing at a rate of 240 tonnes per application, and overseeded with a Dwarf Perennial Rye Grass seed mix.
The installation of the new drainage scheme will provide a much improved facility for the people of Ketley Bank to enjoy for many years to come.