Case Studies

Kings Lynn and West Norfolk District Council

One of the largest grass cutting operations in the eastern counties covers the Kings Lynn and West Norfolk District Council area – 550 square miles – the third largest local authority in Britain.

Deputy General Manager for parks and gardens Chris Willett is charged with keeping all the grassed areas tidy throughout the summer and his team of 20 ground staff, who work all year round, is boosted by five more who work just on cutting lawn areas.

“The reliability of the equipment supplied by Bartram Mowers is very important because we have a tight schedule to keep. The machines are also heavily used so servicing and support is vital. We have six ride on machines with three units and a seven unit tractor mounted mower to cut housing estates, sports fields, recreation grounds, village greens and verges. It is a five days a week continuous job.”

“We are buying rotary machines with grass collectors for early cuts because the climate change means that when it is dry enough for cutting the grass is very long so cylinder mowers would find it difficult. Most residents prefer grass to any other surface and from out point of view it is self sustaining and needs little maintenance apart from regular cutting. As it is a living plant it takes the carbon dioxide greenhouse gas from the air and replaces it with oxygen – benefitting us all.”

“But it is a mammoth job, covering communities from Kings Lynn across to West Winch, Dersingham up to Burnhams and inland nearly as far as Wisbech. We are also responsible for ornamental gardens in coastal resorts and these need to be kept very attractive for the holiday visitors. We use box mowers for this task. Bowls greens and pitch and putt courses also have their special needs for turf care so it is a demanding job and very intensive when the season is at its peak”

In May 2007 Bartrams supplied Kings Lynn and West Norfolk District Council with the latest version of Ransomes remote controlled slope mower, the Ransomes Spider II.

The new and larger machine has a cutting width of 1.23 metres and is powered by a Kawasaki 680cc, 23hp petrol engine which drives four overlapping mulching blades. With a 16 litre fuel tank it can work for five hours on slopes up to 40° and an impressive 55° with winch assistance.

It will be used borough-wide by the four new neighbourhood cleaning teams which have recently been introduced in King’s Lynn to help keep the town clean and greener. Existing street cleaning and grounds maintenance teams from West Norfolk Council will be joined by four new staff members to tackle problems across the town. The scheme began on 19th March and is being funded through the Safer Stronger Communities Fund, which has invested £272,000 in the project.

Chris Durham, Operations Manager at the Council’s Leisure and Public Spaces department said:
“With the introduction of these new teams we will be raising the standards of general tidiness and grounds care around Kings Lynn. This new machine is remotely controlled and is a significant step forward for our workforce in terms of health and safety. They are not in contact with the mower and, as such, will not suffer from hand/arm vibration. Using mowers on steep slopes is uncomfortable for the operator, who has to stand at awkward angles putting pressure on hip, knee and back joints. We’ll be using it on earth bunds, riverbanks and in neglected woodland areas as well as on the cliffs at Heacham and Hunstanton.”

The council’s Neighbourhood Manager Vicky Etheridge added:
“By building on the existing technical expertise we have been able to develop multi-skilled teams to tackle both street cleaning and grounds maintenance issues. They can build up local knowledge and act as a local contact for residents wishing to raise any concerns they may have about street scene matters. This new mower will be available to each team in their dedicated area and it is a testament to our commitment to provide an enhanced living and working environment for the residents and visitors to west Norfolk.”

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Barnham Broom Golf Club

Barnham Broom has two 18-hole courses, one set in a valley and the other on a hill.

Set in 320 acres of grassland the courses water features trees and hedges present challenging hazards to players. They are entrusted to the care of head groundsman Brian Lemmon and eight full time staff who use Bartam Mowers supplied equipment to prepare ideal conditions for, 500 demanding members and for regular corporate golf days and the club’s competitions. The course, near Wymondham belongs to a country club, hotel and leisure complex with time-share apartments with large numbers of visitors. This means the courses are well used and the equipment is too. Back up and service from Bartams is important to ensure trouble-free operation.

Brian says:
“The valley course is tight and very challenging with plenty of trees and water hazards but it can become damp in places because of the nearby river and the wetter weather of recent summers. The grass grows quickly so needs plenty of attention. The hill course, laid down in the late 1980s, drains better and the greens are faster.”

“We cut fairways once or twice a week, the greens every day from April to September or October, tee areas twice a week and there are also practice holes to prepare. Four machines are used for Cutting greens, two mowers for fairways, two for tees and two cutters for surrounds. We also have two utility vehicles and four tractors.”

“We work in tandem with nature wherever possible and this probably accounts for the ample wildlife on the course. We often see deer hoof-prints in bunkers. We have a lot of bird species, grazing geese, rabbits and hares.”
“In the 20 years I have been here, the winters of the last two have been the wettest I can remember and this is likely to be the pattern in the future. This has had an effect on the way we maintain the courses.”

Barnham Broom has also invested in 20 new golf buggies from Bartram Mowers and they are proving for society events and also for ease of access to the hill course.

Eaton Golf Club

Head groundskeeper at Eaton golf club, Micky Lathrope, came to the course 30 years ago – at the same time that Barry Bartram set up his business.

Eaton is regarded as a short course club and was set up on the edge of Norwich in 1910 when the city was very much smaller.

By 2002 membership had grown to 850 and the course covers 108 acres of park and heathland.

For the first 60 years of its life, this popular course had very few trees.

But in the last few years, more than 3,000 pine, beech and birch trees have been planted, increasing its features but also calling for more maintenance.

After a drought 20 years ago, a sprinkler system was installed. Micky said
“It is free draining soil and the water sprinklers help in dry years. These days it is very wet and the job is to ensure the fairways and greens are kept at their best. It is a par 70 course and a lot of the holes are close together and not very long. This means there is narrow rough, and semi-rough as we try to keep fairways up to 40 yards wide.”

“We cut the greens every day from April to October and sometimes we start before 7am as golfers come here very early – probably because many members live nearby in the city. The fairways are cut sometimes twice a week at the peak of the grass-growing season. A lease deal for equipment from Bartrams on a five-year term allows us to purchase at the end. We have two cutters for the semi-rough and rough, one firay machine and two tractors. These are all sit-on machines, but for the greens and tee areas we have walk behinds as well.”

Open spaces such as golf courses attract a great deal of wildlife and Eaton recently carried out a survey of birds which identified 50 species.

The course is also home to deer, foxes and rabbits, and a nearby marsh attracts exotic animals and birds who visit the course.

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New for the 2007 season, the team at Eaton Golf Club took delivery of two Jacobsen Greens King VI ride-on greens mowers under a preferred supplier agreement with local RANSOMES JACOBSEN dealer, Bartram Professional.

Mick Lathrope commented:
“The Greens King VI is a great piece of kit, it has evolved over the years into an excellent greens mower with a light footprint on the green. The quality of cut and finish is superb and with its highly productive 62” cutting width we can get out ahead of the golfers to ensure the best possible playing surface. It’s a machine that’s hard to beat.

Chair of Greens Steve Page added, “Almost everyone who visits here is amazed by the undulating nature of the course, assuming that it’s going to be flat because we’re in Norfolk. However, we’re close to the Yare valley, so the hilly nature in some places takes people by surprise. Our aim is to provide members and visitors with a unique golfing experience and working with Mick to ensure that we have the course in the best possible condition is an important part of my role.”

Maintaining London’s Jewels with Fountains

Bartram Professional has largely supplied the grounds maintenance equipment employed by Fountains in maintaining many of London’s parks including Bushy Park, Victoria Park, Battersea Park, Richmond Park and Pembroke Lodge. A family run business, and long standing Ransomes Jacobsen dealer, Bartram Professional has been working with Fountains since 1994, supplying the company with equipment when it won the Fenlands District Council and subsequent Breckland District Council and RAF Honington maintenance contracts.

As Bartram Director Mark Bartram points out, the advantage of being a Ransomes Jacobsen dealer was the wide range of large mowing equipment it could offer. As a dealer for other smaller items of equipment, it was also able to include chainsaws, blowers and brushcutters.

“Since we first started to work with them, Fountains has grown into a large player in the grounds maintenance sector. We have strengthened our relationship by providing high levels of after sales service and support right across their operation. As an example, our after sales service includes Ransomes Jacobsen providing NPTC training for all staff using their equipment. As a major equipment manufacturer, Ransomes Jacobsen has a dedicated training department and between us we have put together a package to train and certify all of Fountains operators.”

Fountains James Kelly adds
“We have seen immediate results from our commitment to training, our operators certainly take more pride in their machines, operate them with more consideration and as a result we are experiencing less downtime. This has a benefit both financially and operationally. The success of this programme has enabled the three parties in the partnership, the dealer, equipment manufacturer and ourselves, to sign off improved warranty terms.”

Tim Wall, Fountains Contract Mechanic responsible for equipment maintenance, also expanded upon this.
“Accidental damage and downtime has definitely reduced. To be fair, Ransomes Jacobsen equipment is very robust, but if it does get abused, then it’s down to me to get it operational as soon as possible. We have a superb arrangement with Bartrams that means they can get us replacement parts quickly. They are also always on hand with additional help, if required.”