0 Woodhouse Grove School

Woodhouse Grove School

By David Markham,

Bill Davis has enjoyed a successful cricket season after re-laying his square at Woodhouse Grove School. Bill is head Groundsman at the school, an independent co-educational day and boarding school situated north of Bradford and Leeds on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales.

Bill said. "We had problems with the cricket square approximately ten years ago because of inconsistent bounce.

There was a saddle on either end where loam had built up over the years leading to an untrue surface. In heavy rain, after the square had been treated with fertilizer, it washed down the middle and produced a rather large green stripe.

In order to resolve this problem, we removed the turf on the first strip on the edge of the square, levelled the two ends, gave the ground a heavy spiking and brought back the levels using Boughton loam as dressing. The balls remained low during the first year and then the square slowly got more bounce and the ball started to come through true. Following this success, we decided to work our way across the rest of the square.

We have a second square at the bottom of our playing fields and we did exactly the same there with equal success. We also removed an artificial strip and relocated it elsewhere.

Leeds Grammar School heard about these repairs and subsequently I went across to offer my advice to their head Groundsman. Other schools have also now shown interest.

A road leading up to the school's new sports hall is currently being created which has put our junior square out of action this year and interrupted our watering system. Therefore, an alternative location for our junior square will have to be found.

I have a Dennis mower for the square, which works with a cassette system. I can move from a slitter to a scarifier, verti-cutter, cylinder mower, brush and spiked roller in minutes using the same machine."

Bill, who has been at the school since 1974, came from an engineering background.

He said: "We have a busy cricket season. We play every Saturday, midweek and there are cup matches, trial matches and practice sessions at least three evenings a week. However, it's a short season, which lasts only until the beginning of July - 12 weeks in all. This means I can begin my winter work then at the end of the summer term and, by the time the school returns for the autumn at the beginning of September, the seeds are coming through."

Bill went on to say: "We have seven rugby pitches and we keep them well spiked. In order to push back the divots, I have been seeking a groomer to attach to a double-quick unit spiker supplied by Greensward Engineering. At the moment we just have a spiking unit. We run eight rugby teams throughout the school and we have an excellent reputation for training our pupils to a high standard. Indeed, one of our former pupils, Paul Sampson represented England recently.

Our pitches are based on an old river bed. It is a sandy silt plain and there are no general problems with drainage. However, they are part of the flood plain so very occasionally when the river rises dramatically, as it did in the autumn of 2000, the pitches can become submerged - hence the reason we try to keep our pitches well spiked."

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