After trying various mowers, Ludlow Castle Croquet Club has finally found the one it was looking for in the Dennis FT610 interchangeable cassette mower.
Beyond the tennis courts and bowling green, there is a large area of lawn known as the North Field. It is the home of a small band of croquet enthusiasts and was formed six years ago. It started with just two founding members, but the croquet club now has a thriving membership which seemed to increase sharply as a result of “Lockdown”. It plays on two lawns.
The North Field was formerly used as grazing land and only recently was bought by the Bowls and Tennis Club to provide, on a part of the field, a permanent car park for the club. The remaining area lay unused for two years before one of founder members of the croquet club, David Jones, suggested it be mown and croquet played on it. He persuaded Bob Purcell to join him in this venture. They took their own mowers to mow the rough grass.
Others soon joined to help; a member of the bowling club, David Davies, arranged for half of the field to be ploughed, harrowed and seeded – this is now known as Lawn 1 and is the flatter of the two lawns. Another member of the bowling and croquet clubs, John Nash, worked on and improved a 24” cylinder mower that the bowling club had put on a pile of items that were to be discarded. An enthusiastic mowing group then improved the lawn so much so that it led to the accusation that it was really a mowing club that occasionally played croquet. Bob Purcell, who leads this group, certainly leaves no stone unturned when it comes to lawn maintenance, and there were many stones to remove after the ploughing and harrowing.
“As a group, we work very hard to ensure we have the best possible playing surface,” he said. “Having the right mower is key and we’ve certainly tried a few over the year. A generous grant from the Mid Counties Co-Op then allowed us to purchase a more up to date cylinder mower from a professional manufacturer, but we found that it just could not cut low enough, and it didn’t deal too well with our bumpy lawn.”
Whether it was borrowed, repaired, or bought, the club has long been searching for a mower that would help him to produce a fine surface for this much loved and quintessentially English game.
“Discussions continued among the members and we agreed to try out a 13-bladed cylinder mower; it was good but then Dennis came along. A demonstration was quickly arranged and we saw a couple of mowers and the one that stood out for us was the 24” version of the FT cassette system.”
The Dennis FT610, along with other models in the FT series, has become the ‘must have’ piece of turf maintenance machinery at bowling clubs around the country. With a 24″ working width, the FT610 provides its user with comfort, flexibility and excellent performance. A true sense of control is obtained through the unique roller clutch drive for a smooth take-up and a variable clip rate helping to create the desired finish.
Available with five-bladed and ten-bladed cutting cylinders the machine can be matched to any situation and the interchangeable cassettes can be changed without the requirement of any tools. The range of 12 different cassettes mean that one machine can be used for several key maintenance tasks including scarifying, verticutting or brushing.
“We chose the FT610 over the FT510 purely because it has a larger working width, which helps us to mow the lawn quicker,” he said. “The ten-bladed cylinder provides a great finish, and we are currently cutting down to 7mm three days a week having started at 11mm. We have also ordered the verticutter cassette to help us get rid of the lateral growth, so I’m looking forward to using that.”
“I know it is a minor feature, but we all really appreciate how the FT610 starts first time every time – it is really quite remarkable. The mowing group also like the way the height of cut can be adjusted without using any tools, it is just a simple turn and a click adjustment. On our previous mowers it has always been difficult to adjust the cutting height which required the use of tools.
“I was particularly keen to use a British company, and I’m pleased we chose Dennis,” continued Bob. “In many ways we are smitten with Dennis. The next stage is to begin the process to achieve a truly level surface”