Brightlingsea Council’s Mayor, Cllr Jane Chapman, was present at the official handover of a Ventrac all-terrain compact tractor and selection of attachments at the north Essex coastal town recently. Delivered by local dealer, Upson Mowers, the equipment will be used for mowing the town’s recreation fields, maintaining local cycle paths and keeping the beach promenade free of sand and other debris.
The ever-versatile compact tractor was specified with a MU rotary mowing deck, a Power Brush and a V-blade, to provide specific solutions for some unique challenges faced by the seaside town’s council.
Cllr. Graham Steady, Portfolio holder for the town’s Western Promenade said,
“We had two demonstrations and on both occasions the council leaders were very impressed, especially with the machine’s versatility. We made a financial commitment to acquire the Ventrac and view it as major step forward in the maintenance of all council-maintained areas. We would like to thank our local dealer, Upsons and Price Turfcare, the UK distributor, for the professional manner in which they conducted the negotiations and demonstration process; they have been superb.”
“We haven’t just purchased a mower; we’ve effectively bought three different machines. During higher- than-average tides, the promenade around the children’s paddling pool can become covered with sand and shingle making it impossible for pushchairs and accessibility buggies to negotiate this area. The V-blade and Power Brush worked exceptionally well during the initial demonstration, clearing the pathway in minutes and it was a very simple decision to include it in the specification.”
Brightlingsea’s Grounds Manager, Terry Hamilton, added,
“We’ve certainly purchased a very versatile piece of kit. We’re replacing an aging triple reel mower with this Ventrac and the MU deck, which provides the same level of finish, so we’re not sacrificing quality or overall presentation. We have two recreation grounds to maintain, one of which is on clay and just above the water table, so can be very wet at certain times of the year. The Ventrac, in its eight-wheel configuration, has an exceptionally low ground pressure of just 6 psi, enabling us to mow, whatever the conditions.”
“We have a single road leading into the town including Church Hill, a steep climb with an acute bend at the top. Essex County Council have built a cycle path alongside the road to mitigate the danger to cyclists. However, it has not been regularly maintained, causing the cyclists to use the road and resulting in frustration for other road users. We have now taken responsibility for this and the Power Broom will be used to keep it debris-free and usable at all times. Another use for the Power Broom is as a scarifier; by setting the brush to a position that’s just tickling the sward, it’s possible to remove thatch build-up.”
“As part of the handover process, Upson Mowers arranged for Tom Stidder of TCS Turfcare Equipment to provide installation and familiarisation training on the day and it was superb. Tom is a turf equipment specialist with a mechanical engineering background and obviously knows the Ventrac machine, inside out. He spent over four hours with us, looking at every aspect of the machine and ensuring that we were completely comfortable with the operation of all the attachments.”
“Brightlingsea is renowned for its fishing, sailing and seaside leisure activities and attracts thousands of visitors during the summer months,” said the Mayor, Cllr. Jane Chapman. “We are proud that our green spaces, especially along the seafront and the approaches to the town, are maintained to high standards and are attractive to our residents and visitors. We could have purchased just a replacement mower, but with this Ventrac we have a multi-tasking machine, delivering best value to the town.”
Newbury & Crookham Golf Club have purchased a Ventrac 4500 all-terrain compact tractor and two mowing decks, which course manager Chris Ball says will make the greenkeeping department at the 148-year-old club even more efficient. Purchased from local dealer, T H White, the package included a Contour mowing deck and a Tough Cut deck, which will enable the greenkeeping team to work smarter and safely when maintaining the woodland margins and steep banks on 6,000-yard course.
“My team have done an exceptional job during the pandemic crisis and it is only right that we should ensure they work in complete safety, not just in these exceptional circumstances, but at all times. These two decks in conjunction with the eight-wheel tractor unit guarantee that when working on tee banks or around the reservoir, they can do so in complete safety. As a small team of just six, it’s important that we work smarter; now we can cut areas mechanically using just one person, where we previously used numerous team members with brushcutters, saving many greenkeeping hours that can now be utilised elsewhere on the course.”
“The Tough Cut deck will help us both ecologically and aesthetically, keeping the woodland floor open and encouraging more spring bulbs to flourish. We want to see carpets of bluebells in subsequent years. Also, with the Contour deck we’ll be able to maintain steeper areas on the course making the presentation even more appealing for members and visitors. We’ve only had the equipment since mid-May, but already it has proved its worth; it’s a simple, clever design, does the job and is easy to maintain.”
Chris Ball joined Woking Golf Club as an apprentice in 1994 and knew immediately that this was to be his chosen career. In 1998 he moved on to Guildford Golf Club and four years later joined Walton Heath, working under two renowned industry figures in Clive Osgood and Ian McMillan. In 2002 he joined Bearwood Lakes, where he was appointed head greenkeeper, reporting to the course manager. He has been course manager at Newbury and Crookham since 2014.
Newbury & Crookham is one of the oldest clubs in England, established in 1873. The 18-hole, par 69 golf course measures just under 6000 yards and is set amongst beautiful mature woodland. Situated on the south side of Newbury, between Greenham Common and the racecourse, the current course dates back to 1923, when the Newbury and District Club was founded. Crookham Golf Club was founded in 1873 on Greenham Common, but after it was requisitioned in 1940 by the MOD, the members were given temporary membership by their neighbours, which eventually became permanent and the club adopting its current name.
Returning from a very successful SALTEX show, Rupert Price, managing director of UK importer Price Turfcare, says that Ventrac has now been accepted as a relevant brand in the UK groundscare sector.
“At the end of the first day at the show, we were returning to the hotel and reflecting on the high level of business and number of visitors that we had seen. Honestly, we were sceptical about the possible visitor numbers prior to the show, but were very pleased with the footfall across the stand and the number of demonstration requests received. The discussion with the first visitor set the tone for the day with a demonstration arranged for late November.
“It occurred to us that we were being perceived in a different way than at previous events; we had become an accepted and credible brand in the sector. Instead of having to explain who we were and what the machine could do, we were talking to an audience who had seen it on social media, in the trade press and at events and now understood the benefits that it could bring to their business.
“For me, this change of perception was very pleasing and a testament to the efforts of the small team here at the company. They have worked tirelessly to promote and demonstrate the machine across the UK for the past six years. We have come from nowhere in 2017, when we launched at BTME and with the incredible support of the manufacturer, Venture Products Inc, we have gone from a presence of zero machines to over 200 today. The forward order book is healthy, we are getting regular shipments of machines and are now looking at larger premises for the new year.
“The atmosphere at SALTEX was very positive; people were really pleased to be meeting up with the industry again. It was just a good feeling to see customers, prospects and former colleagues in a positive environment. There were many discussions about supply chain issues, the inevitable price rises that we are all experiencing and the state of the sector, but all-in-all, it demonstrated the robustness of UK groundscare. For us, a great show!”