We spoke to Simon Bagnall Head of Gardens and Grounds for Worcester College in Oxford. Worcester College is one of the constituent colleges of the University of Oxford in England. The college was founded in 1714 by the benefaction of Sir Thomas Cookes, 2nd Baronet of Norgrove, Worcestershire, whose coat of arms was adopted by the College.
The gardens at Worcester College have won numerous awards, including the Oxford in Bloom college award every time they have been entered for the competition. The team is headed up by Simon with seven gardeners looking after a 26 acre estate at Worcester College including formal lawns and sports fields. ''We have fine grass like the quadrangle, meadow areas and sports grounds. We're unique in Oxford having sports fields on campus. We have cricket, rugby, football and lacrosse is very popular at the moment as is croquet''.
Worcester College were one of our first customers to make the switch to battery powered mowing. The main lawn is surrounded by classrooms so there is a requirement by the college for all grass cutting equipment to be near silent. The team were stopped from mowing with petrol mowers during busy exam periods but with the new battery equipment they can work without having their day disrupted.
''Worcester is passionate about sustainability and it is something that we've been really driving towards in the gardens and grounds team. We have a C34E already and we've now just purchased this amazing Uplift. It ticks the sustainability box because of the battery power but it's also really good for the user. Our guys aren't having to work behind a combustion engine but I think one of the key things also is the noise. It is really quiet so in our surroundings where noise is really important and we have to be very conscious of students studying and lectures going on. This will be the perfect tool we'll still be able to do our job whilst the students are studying and the lecturers are teaching''
Another main benefit of the battery powered products is the saving in fuel costs. It's approximately 40p per charge for the Uplift ( at the time of launch) compared to fuel costs that can be £5+ for the same amount of fuel so this makes a big difference over time. Petrol prices are now up to £2 a litre in places as well as spending the fuel to go and get the fuel. Fuel storage can be a huge safety issue too on premises that are populated by a lot of people.
''So with rising petrol costs another driver for going battery power is the saving that we will make on fuel. At the moment you know fuel is going through the roof and it's literally a couple of pence to charge this machine''.
The Uplift will be used on the sports pitches to clear up after games as well as occasionally on the main quad until the college invest in a smaller battery powered cylinder mower. ''So the lawn in the quadrangle is a really important feature of this space we put a lot of effort into making it look great for the college community and visitors to the college. The Uplift is great for that because it's a heavyweight machine that puts down some really strong stripes as you can see today but it's easy to use and it's really well balanced. The guys that cut the grass really enjoy using it because of the the weight distribution and it's no nonsense features and tools''.
The Uplift has some of the features of the C27E and C34E including the ability to use the same batteries in all three models. The Uplift also boasts the half speed reduction button where forward speed is reduced by 60% by the press of a button. This is useful when coming to the end of the lawn or mowing around ostacles e.g. trees which Worcester College have a number of. There are various options for the Uplift including a front brush and roller kit. ''So for us one really nice feature is the height adjustment on the front it's such a simple mechanism it's just winds up and down and it's really precise the height of cut so we we love that new feature''.
The Uplift is popular for it's strong suction and debris collection with a moulded deck which helps with air flow. Wet grass does not stick to the deck so grass box fill is great! The last thing groundsmen and gardeners need is for wet grass to be falling off the bottom of their mower onto the pitch or lawn.
''I guess one of the other drivers for buying the Uplift is for sports preparation. Our pitches are surrounded by trees we get a lot of leaf fall in the Autumn and this does a brilliant job at collecting leaves and debris post match''
The weight of the Uplift is 190kg so the stripes are eye catchingly strong which is great for attracting new students to the college as well as impressing visitors.
Take a look at the Uplift86E here where you can find a range of imagery and videos.