9 April 2011

MJ Abbott welcomed back for second term at prestigious school

Leading sports turf contractor, MJ Abbott Limited, has completed its second major sports construction project at the prestigious St John’s School in Northwood, Middlesex.

MJ Abbott welcomed back for second term at prestigious school

View across new pitch

St John’s is an independent day school providing high-quality education for four hundred boys aged between three and thirteen.

Five years ago, two pitches were cut into the side of a hill in a project that involved deep drainage to divert pockets of water underground, followed by the installation of a fully-automatic irrigation system.

MJ Abbott was appointed for this subsequent phase of work after taking part in a competitive tender process following specifications drawn up by Noel Mackenzie of Sports Turf Consulting.

Rugby is one of the main team sports enjoyed by pupils at St John’s. They’re coached by Deputy Head Sean Robinson, a former Saracens full-back and Director of Sport John Pawson, who as well as being a winger for Cardiff was also an international sprinter. In addition to school fixtures, the four rugby pitches also host an annual sevens tournament for schools in the south east of England.

The project to improve the quality of the rugby pitches included re-levelling, importing and spreading 400m³ of topsoil and the installation of primary drainage and mains pipework. The on-site team then imported and spread 400 tonnes of sand which was ameliorated into the topsoil surface.

They then installed a fully-automatic irrigation system, managed by a state-of-the-art Rain Bird site control PC controller and radio remote control. Valve-in-head sprinklers were placed around the pitch perimeter with block sprinklers through the centre. The central sprinklers have a turf cup installed on the top which is filled with topsoil and natural grass so they remain hidden from view. The irrigation was extended from the existing system to two pitches the company constructed five years ago. Once the irrigation was completed, the pitches were cultivated and seeded ready for the new season.

The latest addition to the school’s sports facilities is a mini golf facility that has been designed to allow for a 9-hole game to be played by playing to alternating greens from the same tee.

MJ Abbott constructed three 400m² golf greens with 100mm of imported rootzone, primary drainage, automatic irrigation and secondary drainage in the form of sand banding perpendicular to the greens drainage at 250mm centres. To make them appear more natural, the greens were built in to the hillside with a 20 metre fall between the top and bottom. Seven new tees were also built using imported topsoil and rootzone dressing, each with a manual irrigation point, before cultivating and seeding the greens, tees and surrounds. New practice nets completed the school’s new golf facility.

Cricket is another team sport played by all boys at the school which currently fields eleven teams. MJ Abbott reconstructed the natural cricket square by importing, spreading and compacting in three layers 100mm of clay cricket loam. They also installed a synthetic cricket wicket adjacent to the natural square and cultivated and seeded the outfield, which also forms the golf fairways. 

With the playing surfaces now in play, Noel Mackenzie said: “The new rugby pitch is probably the best pitch on the site and I understand demand to use it almost as soon as it has been ready has been high.”

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