Way forward at Wrekin College
By Laurence Gale MSc
Wrekin College is a co-educational boarding and day school for 11 -18 year olds and is situated in the market town of Wellington in Shropshire. The college offers education facilities for 450 students. Founded by Sir John Bayley in 1880, the college stands proudly in one hundred acres of games fields and gardens.
The grounds support and offer a wide range of artificial and natural grass sport facilities (cricket, rugby, football, tennis, and hockey), enabling the students to participate in active sports programmes all year round.
The college has a good reputation for promoting and playing a wide variety of sport. The college 4 four cricket squares including 13 practice net areas, two grass hockey pitches, three rugby, three football pitches, along with 4 grass and 4 tarmacadam tennis courts.
The college opened a new 6000m2 artificial sand dressed grass carpet multi games pitch last September; this facility is used by the school during the day and the local community at night.
The four cricket squares are well used by the college, with the main square gaining much acclaim for the quality of the wickets produced by Eddie. Being an independent college the cricket season finishes early, allowing Eddie the opportunity to renovate in August and early September and making good use of the favourable warm soil and air temperatures that aid seed germination.
Eddie treats all the cricket surfaces the same, scarifying in four directions starting at a depth of 5mm, increasing on each occasion and finishing off at a depth of 12mm. The squares and practice areas are then spiked using a solid tine spiker to a depth of 100mm, overseeded and top dressed with 10 tonnes of Mendip cricket loam. The main square is dressed with about 5 tonne with the remaining 5 tonne being used on the other squares and net facilities.
Two grass hockey pitches are set out on the main cricket outfield during the autumn and winter terms. This grass is currently maintained at a height of 17mm using a set of trail gang mower units. Eddie will be reducing the height of cut to 12 mm when he changes over to the Mastiff and Dennis box mowers to improve their presentation.
The rugby and football pitches are being cut and maintained at 17mm. The site has many trees and keeping the grass height low helps keep the leaves moving into corners of the site where they can be easily collected. Once the leaves have fallen the height of cut on all the sports areas are then increased to 22mm for the winter period.
Peter Maddocks, one of Eddie's assistants, has been at the college for 26 year and has certainly seen the improvements to the grounds in the last three years, with the college beginning to invest in new machinery and also recognise the efforts of the Groundstaff. A recent acquisition has been the Fleet Kombi line marking machine, which Peter says has improved the speed and quality of line marking.
Eddie is always looking at ways of improving the facilities. He is aware that the quality of the sports fields affects the reputation of the college. As the old saying goes - first impressions are everlasting. The grounds and gardens are, without doubt, the first impression visitors have when they visit the college.
Wrekin College, Sutherland Road, Wellington, Telford, Shropshire, TF1 3BH. Tel:01952 240131, Web site http://www.wrekincollege.ac.uk/