Ground works update

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Work is continuing on the North-East corner of the Cooper Associates County Ground.

This week we caught up with Head Groundsman Simon Lee and Colin Ayres, the Contracts Manager for Harris Brothers and Collard who are carrying out the current work, to outline exactly how the process in progressing.

“The work at the moment is to extend the boundary in that corner,” said Simon.  “We are doing this so that we meet the regulations required for Category B status which allows us to host internationals.  The minimum we need is 73 yards from one of our centre pitches with a 70 yard boundary.  That will also help us in county cricket because after the work is finished we will end up with two more First Class pitches.  That will obviously ease the pressure when it comes to pitch preparation and things like that.”

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“That area hasn’t been developed for quite a long time and there were quite a lot of cables underneath the stand that have had to be moved and there’s been a bit of work to do with the drainage too.  We’ve had to move the outflow from where it was last year to a different place simply because it would have been within the boundary.  There’s quite a lot of stuff going on at the moment and the ground will eventually be levelled off to around 150mm below the current outfield surface.  Then we’ll refill with soil and turf on top.”

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Colin said:  “As Simon explained, we’re extending the pitch and that means that all of the cables that were under there have to be put in to a duct, so the long trough that you can see at the moment will have all the cables in it.  We found a maze of cables under that whole area but these are being ducted and lowered so that they won’t be within the depth required for when Simon is spiking the pitch.  Once we’ve done our bit then Simon and his team will take over.

“The old concrete that was under the surface there and the gravel and sub-base underneath has had to be levelled so what we had to do was go down lower and then rebuild back up with fresh sub-base, which is a granular material, before the tarmac can then go on top, which will take it out to the kerb.  It will then step down to the pitch.

“Essentially we dig out the old material that is in there, put back better ground with better material.  Then we consolidate it, roll it and compact it before the tarmac then goes on top.”

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There will also be work taking place at the St James Street entrance as Colin explains.  “From Monday the St James Street entrance will be closed for approximately two weeks.  The current gates will be taken down whilst the pillars and a bit of the wall will also be removed.  Once this is completed, new wider gates will be installed which will ease the access for larger vehicles.  The metal columns will be re-clad with stonework in order to match what’s already there and the wall will be rebuilt to another line.  The entrance-way and the public footpath has to be widened and lowered as well, so we will be doing that as well.”

Alternative access to the Cooper Associates County Ground and to the St James Street car park will still be available via the Sir Vivian Richards Gates on Priory Bridge Road.