Sports Pitch Re-Design & Re-Construction


In March 2010 Turfdry began reconstruction works on the sports field at St George’s School, Ascot, where severe waterlogging issues were forcing the cancellation of 80% of fixtures. The project - set to last 8 weeks - involved the design and construction of an extended playing field, and the installation of a new drainage system, with lateral drains at 4m spacing. 

Little did Turfdry know what lay in wait for them in the depths of the existing field: one of the most challenging projects the firm has ever encountered in its almost quarter-century of operations!

Despite being told that the subterranean conditions on the site were nothing out of the ordinary, the day machinery was set to break ground revealed a very different story. Speaking to Pitchcare Magazine in 2014, Turfdry MD Melvyn Taylor described ensuing chaos:

“As soon as we drove the machines onto the surface, they started bouncing up and down. It was like driving on a trampoline. If we parked up a machine, within ten minutes there would be water over the tracks. It was like a sponge layer, and the weight of the machine was pushing water up out of the sponge.

When we dug a hole of - say - a metre deep, the water would just pour out of the sponge layer and fill it up within seconds!”


Upon encountering these issues, Turfdry looked to local historians to help uncover some of the site’s past as an army camp during the Great War, and discovering that a fire engine that had been called to a fire at a fete being held on the field was - so the story goes - still buried somewhere in the field, having become stuck and sunk. By this time, the prevailing ‘sinking feeling’ was not just limited to the heavy machinery, and there were serious concerns - on the part of both Turfdry and the school - that the project would be impossible to complete. 

Between some careful thought and a great deal of difficult work however, the Turfdry team was eventually able to overcome the nightmarish ground conditions by digging down though the sponge layer to install a network of 150mm twin-wall pipes at a depth of around 800mm, in order to dry out the sponge layer sufficiently as to allow the installation of the actual pitch drainage system. Though much of this work was already challenging as a result of the incredible amounts of water in the ground, and the inability to get machinery on to the site, these difficulties were compounded by the pitch’s severely clogged old drainage system also being full of water; when these old plastic pipes were cut, their festering payload of ancient groundwater was released onto what was already - in the words of Melvyn - “a soggy mess”


Despite these challenges, Turfdry’s perseverance - and the school’s support - was rewarded, and the project was eventually completed…albeit 10 months after initially scheduled! The old adage says that good things come to those who wait, and the school’s evident delight at the finished facilities does nothing to dispel this wisdom; Peter Thompson - the school’s groundsman - spoke to Pitchcare four years after completion of the project, saying:

“We have not lost a single fixture here due to ground conditions since the drainage was installed, even though rainfall seems to be more prolonged and heavier in recent years. Turfdry were exemplary.”


Project Summary

Services Provided by Turfdry

  • Site Survey
  • Pitch Design
  • Pitch & Construction
  • Drainage Design & Installation
  • Cultivation & Seeding
  • Pitch Maintenance

Client

Concord College


Website

Address

St George's School
Wells Lane
Ascot
Berkshire
SL5 7DZ