Rebuilding the courts at Kintbury 2010
Here's a short history of how our courts were rebuilt in 2010.
Jan 25th. Work has now started on rebuilding all three courts at Kintbury Tennis Club. The project has been a long time in the planning, backed by furious fund-raising (of which more later) and a lot of soul-searching, time and effort from the leaders of the project.
Our biggest problem was realising that we didn't just need a resurface job. We needed to relay all three courts because the material under the current surface had crumbled away and our courts had deteriorated beyond the point where anyone was happy. A simple resurface would just have meant that we got the old problems back again within a few years. And none of us wants to see more cracks like the one shown here.
So our old courts had to go. The contractors, AMB Sports, came in on the morning of January 25th and started by taking down the fencing and the old net posts and nets. We also realised that the porch on the club house would be in the way of the new fencing, but more than that, that it is badly rotten and would probably need replacing soon anyway. So, we plan to take the porch away too (if we are allowed to do so).
More significantly, we are going to remove the bank between courts 2 and 3 and level off everything. This will remove a feature that threatened us with closure when West Berks Council paid us a visit a year or so ago.
Jan 30th. In fact, the bank has already gone!
So has any real semblance of a playing surface!
The photos opposite were taken on the afternoon of Saturday January 30. You can see that the process of levelling off has started.
Feb 1st. The chair of the parish council has agreed to the complete removal of our porch. It was so rotten it made sense to get rid of the whole thing rather than repair it. Maybe some time in the future, when we have the money, we can think about replacing it somehow. In the meantime, removing the porch has raised the cost of the overall project but we think that it had to be done.
Feb 8th. As you can see from the photo alongside, the levelling off process is almost complete. This surface has to be approved by the surveyor we have appointed to act on our behalf, before a membrane is applied and then a further level of hardcore goes on top. By the time we are done, the surface will be raised a few more inches, meaning we will step up onto our new courts. I guess the new courts will be a step up in every sense of the word. Somewhere under this layer are the cables that feed the floodlights, encased in ducting just in case we ever need to get at them, and also we have paid a bit extra to ensure that the drainage is good. The photo on the right shows where a drainage channel will be constructed.
Feb 11th. Things are moving on apace. The brick kerb is being laid around the court perimeter, and the porous membrane has gone on top of the levelled surface. You can see the roll in the picture to the far right. On top of this membrane will go a layer of loose stone, as shown. This will be levelled off, and the first layer of porous tarmac will be applied.
The playing area is being increased as a consequence of this work and that means we've had to get rid of the porch from the club house, which used to protrude into the courts (you may recall).
Feb 23rd. It is starting to look like a tennis court now that the team has come in with its high tech machinery to lay the tarmac. The first layer has gone down today, leaving space for a final layer to go on top. A laser guidance system is used on the heavy roller to ensure that the level is as good as it can be, and the guys have had to work quickly to create and seal the joins because of the very cold weather. You can just about see the gap between the tarmac and the top of the red bricks at the back of court three.
You can also see the tarmac on top of the stone layer in this photo, which looks across from court two to court one. I was standing where the old bank used to be.
The various layers that have been built are also shown below.
I'm not sure what this hole is for, but it does show the layers!
The fence posts have also gone up along with the new gate posts, two at the clubhouse side and one at the car-park end. The holes for the net posts have been sunk and capped off so that the tarmacing can continue.
I think one picture more than any other illustrates the difference between the new courts and the old, and it is this one taken at the back of court 3. The workman is levelling off the cement that basically protects the structure at the back of the courts. (I resisted the temptation to add my initials or a hand-print). You can see how high the new surface is being built compared to the old.
Mar 2nd. As of today, nothing is happening. The courts look great but the workmen have gone. Basically, we need some warmer weather (oh, my, after the coldest winter for about 30years, we REALLY DO need some warmer weather) so that we can lay the top surface of tarmac. It is anyone's guess when spring will come, but we stay hopeful.
The fencing is up, albeit that it needs to be tightened in places, so the courts are starting to look like proper courts.
March 9th. Today AMB Sports informed me that they plan to start laying the top layer of tarmac tomorrow. In truth, it is still colder than they would like it to be, but if the courts are to be ready for handing over by early April then the work has to be done sooner rather than later. There's a chance that temerpatures will rise a little by the end of the week so that's what we are hoping for.
March 10th. It's all started again as promised. The team arrived this morning to lay the top layer of tarmac to a depth of 40mm. The photos don't really show how thick the layer is but the guys tell me that they often work to a depth of 30mm, whereas we have invested a bit more to go for 40mm. The final tolerance over the whole surface should be 6mm, i.e. there shouldn't be dips and bumps of any great significance.
It looks almost old fashioned to see the tarmac being laid by hand, and levelled off with a huge metal post (basically a RSJ) being dragged over the top, but you have to believe they know what they're doing! Of course, the vibrating heavy roller does the main work. Then at the end of the day there's another piece of kit to bring on to the courts, which basically makes sure the joins are good and the 6mm tolerance has been met.
Getting all this equipment in and out of the courts is a bit of a problem.
Unfortunately, the guys working today had to remove one of the fence posts in order to get their machinery onto the courts. It will be replaced of course! There will also be quite a lot of work to do to restore the grounds around the courts. You can see what a mess the machinery has made of the area between the football pitch and the tennis courts.
There was also need to build a temporary bridge between this ground and the courts, and it too will have to be removed once the work is finished. It's a pity in a way, but of course, the ditch is needed to help with court drainage, albeit that it is also a trap for the occasional tennis ball. For now, the bridge will stay in place until the tarmac has been laid, but that might only be for another couple of days.
The workmen reckon that they can lay one and half courts in a day, so they expect to be finished by Friday. It all depends on getting deliveries of tarmac on time, and as you can see, there is an empty space here where a heap of tarmac will be once the next delivery arrives.
Mar 11th, and the top layer of tarmac is pretty well finished. In the two photos alongside, the workmen are laying tarmac into the corner by the clubhouse. The heavy roller is levelling off the last bit by the entrance. In truth there is a little more to do as the tarmac stands high of the surround bricks in places, and also, the last bit of levelling off needs to be done so that we have our 6mm tolerance all over.
As noted above the work to lay the top layer is largely done by hand, using a RSJ to set the level. Here you can see the RSJ waiting for action. It stands on top of the underlayer, and the sharp eyed amongst you might be able to detect that the top layer is complete at either side of the photo.
Mar 19th. AMB Sports tell me that they have cleared the site today. Basically, that means the heavy duty work is finished. The courts still need to be painted and marked out, and net posts and nets will have to be erected. Following inspection by the LTA surveyor, there's a little remedial work still to do on the top surface to level the edges against the brick kerbs, but otherwise that's it. Apparently the fencing guys returned just to tighten things up a bit so that is all done too. Now we await a prolonged period of drier, warm weather (15 degrees is ideal) so that the paint will dry. We reckon it will be a couple of weeks from now before the painting starts.
Many paragraphs ago we mentioned that we had removed the porch from the clubhouse. It meant that repairs were also needed to the soffits and gutters, and we took the opportunity to repair the tiles too. So let's hope the kids that used to break the tiles will leave it alone now the porch has gone.
Mar 30th. It's too wet to even think about painting the courts but the recent spell of wet weather has given us the chance to see how the drainage is working. First impressions suggest it is working well. Actually, it's not too soon to be thinking of painting the courts, because we now have to make the final decision about the colour scheme. The original EGM chose a green on green colour scheme but that meeting was not widely attended so an email has gone out to all members inviting their vote for various combinations. Deadline for votes is April 1st, so we will see what the members decide.
April 2nd. The vote is in. By a small, but comfortable majority (roughly 40 votes received in total), members have chosen a light green court, with a terracota red perimeter. Now we need some dry, warm weather, to get the paint down.
April 14th. Despite several nice, fine days, and despite constant questions being asked of the contractors (often without any answers) the courts have not been painted. We had been told we were scheduled in for the work to start today. Having contacted the office to see if work had started, we received the bad news that today is apparently too cold (and it is true, it is a bit chilly). So the painting has been put back to a plan of Friday and Monday. However, with the forecast suggesting that these days will be colder even than today, I am not holding my breath! The plans for our Open Day are looking decidedly optimistic right now which is a massive shame.
April 15th. Another sunny day, and all prospects a whole lot brighter after we finally make contact with the project manager who gives an absolute assurance that the courts will be ready in time for our Open Day..... but not for the first session of coaching that was scheduled for April 20th.
April 19th. True to his word, the project manager called me this afternoon to confirm that painting had started, and that it would be completed by April 20th. We'd already been down to the courts for a sneak preview though, as the photos alongside demonstrate. By the early evening, the first coat of green and red had been completed all over. Tuesday will mean a second coat, and lines. By Friday, we should have nets and posts in place.... and that will be all folks!
April 21st. The paint is on, the lines are down and all that remains is to add the nets and posts. (Strictly speaking, that isn't true, as the lines need to be measured by the LTA to agree that they are drawn to the righ dimensions, and there is still a little remedial work to complete around the courts.) One of our members popped down to have a look, and then sent this email....."Dropped into ktc yesterday evening to have a look at the courts......all I can say is that they look magnificent, even without the nets !!......and Rob King and I stood there and marvelled at your work and achievement...both of you. p.s and yes John, I am very pleased I changed my mind on the colour co-ordination, it looks great."
I hope everyone else will think the same thing.
We have also taken the decision to improve the little footbridge across the ditch, and that work is scheduled for Friday.
April 23rd. Today is the day that the nets and posts will go up - except it isn't. An email this morning from the project manager tells me that they haven't had their delivery so a different supplier will courier nets and posts to my home address on Saturday morning. So that is another job for your committee to do ahead of the open day. It was hard enough getting the money to pay for the new courts. We didn't expect to have to build them as well. So watch this space for an update tomorrow. On a more positive note, the construction of a handrail, and better surface for our footbridge has been completed. If we can persuade the kids not to swing on it, we should get a few years out of the handrail!
April 24th. The nets and posts arrived at 10.00am this morning. John Howell, Paul Morgan, Greg Blanchard and Graeme Coulam assembled at the courts and put them up. As it happens, these are a temporary measure, possibly a good thing too, since the posts are a little loose for the sockets. But they will do the job for Open Day, and then should be replaced by the proper stuff some time next week. Once that is done, this page will not be updated anymore. Thank goodness for that!
April 30th. We are almost there. The new nets and posts went in this morning, along with some signs to number the courts, and our surveyor has been across this afternoon to check the work. There are a few jobs to finish off, and perhaps the most important of these is to deal with the problem we faced after the first shower last week, when the courts became very slippery. The court sprayer has been asked to come back next week. However, after a really heavy downpour this afternoon, it is only fair to comment that the courts drained beautifully. In fact, you would not have known at all that the rain had fallen so hard. The picture shown here was taken within seconds of the downpour ending - bear in mind that it had been wet enough to soak us through to the skin despite the fact we had been wearing coats. There was no puddling, no sign of water lying on the surface and to be honest, it felt like the rain had washed out some of the slip, because it was possible to run, stop and turn on the court without feeling vulnerable.
It is hard not to talk about money on a project like this and although the work has nearly finished there is still much to do. Money has been hard to come by, in the sense that it is tough to get money ahead of deciding to do the work, and tough to decide to do the work without knowing you can get the money....... We have been highly fortunate to win generous grants from the Miss Lawrence Charitable Trust, West Berkshire Council Youth Opportunity Capital Fund, West Berks/Greenham Trust Vibrant Villages, Berkshire Community Foundation, Sport England and Kintbury Parish Council.
Careful management of the club's finances over many years by several different committees meant that we were able to commit the club's own savings to the project, and we also had guarantees from several members to cover any shortfall.
Lucky though we were to get grants, we were also lucky that John Howell and Graeme Coulam were prepared to put in so much of their own time and effort into locating grant sources, completing the application forms, and generally managing the project. Without this effort, which has literally taken up the whole working week at times, the new courts would not have been built. This club, and every other club in the country should be more grateful to its volunteers.
There is still a lot more we need to do to improve our clubhouse, install lights on court 3, and maybe even construct a fourth court. If every member were to donate £100 to the development fund, we'd be able to achieve some amazing things.
All donations to the club would be gratefully received, and we have also found a legitimate, genuine way of raising income without asking anyone to dig any deeper into their own pockets than they would be doing already. If you visit our online shop (click any links from this page) you can help us earn a small income from major high street retailers, just by buying what you would normally buy. In fact, we insist that you ONLY buy what you would normally buy. And we do not want you to buy anything that you would normally buy from any of the shops in Kintbury. We are a village club and we support our own village.
But if you sometimes make purchases from the likes of BT, Marks and Spencer or HMV (to name just a few of the hundred+ stores we have teamed up with) then we encourage you to make your purchase via the Kintburytennisclub online shop. Please also tell your friends because they can even earn some money for us without buying anything. Just applying for a credit card or doing a survey can make some money for the club, and every little helps.
Please do consider using our online shop. And THANK YOU for doing so.