Part of the Foundation of King Edward VI Schools is King Edward's in Edgbaston, Birmingham. This independent establishment has separate boys' and girls' sections offering education for 11-18 year olds.
Extensive sporting facilities include 5 rugby pitches, 3 cricket squares, synthetic and natural hockey pitches, plus a First XV-First XI field with an athletics track for the boys, and netball and tennis courts for the girls.
The synthetic hockey pitch was originally laid some 15 years ago as a sand filled surface and replaced two years ago by Thorntons with a sand dressed carpet. "The pitch was originally intended to last 10 years, but because we maintain it to such a high standard, it lasted 13. It was not worn out when it was re-laid, but as there was provision in the budget to do so, we felt it was worth revitalising," explains Head Groundsman Garry Watson.
He went on to say that the pitch is used seven days a week, both for school sport and outside rentals. "We are fortunate to have a team of eight groundsmen and, although we are flat out in the summer, this does mean that we can dedicate a member of staff to the synthetic pitch - which he maintains meticulously".
When the pitch was installed, King Edward's School chose a Sisis maintenance system, comprising the Twinplay combination frame with zigzag and straight brushes.
Gary again, "We've got a lot of Sisis machinery for use on the various sports surfaces and we've always found it to be well made, reliable equipment, so there was no reason to look at other brands. The brushes are really top quality and produce a great result on the carpet".
The zigzag brush is used mainly to move the sand around more intensively, with the pitch brushed at least once a week to redistribute the infill and stand the carpet fibres up, leaving it in perfect condition for the weekend's matches.
"It really lifts dirt and debris out, keeping the surface very clean. However, most pitches need to be deep cleaned by a contractor on a regular basis, but when we booked someone to do it he said we were wasting our money as our pitch was so immaculate!" says Garry. "Regular maintenance has really paid off and has prolonged the life of the initial pitch well beyond its suggested lifespan".
Even with all that use the brushes have also proved highly durable. The straight brush has been in the fleet for the life of the surface, and the zigzag brush for eight or nine years and Garry expects them to go on for some time yet. "We replace the bristles every couple of years, which is excellent considering the amount of wear that they get, and it is a quick and simple job. They are so economical to use and maintain, I can't imagine considering any other system. As they say, 'if it's not broken, why try to fix it'!" concluded Garry.
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