Is this the oldest Groundkeeper still working?
Having put the feelers out to see if we could find the oldest working Groundkeeper in Britain - and to give its owner a new one free of charge for the privilege - our travels have taken us to Herefordshire. With wonderful views across to the River Teme and towards the Welsh border in a village not far north of Wigmore, we came across an old original red painted LG 120 serial no. 1565. The LG 120 was the forerunner to the current GH SmartCut ground discharge model and although no longer available in a 1.2m cut, the GH is still a popular model where running back to the compost heap isn’t a problem.
This particular LG 120 was bought more by luck than judgement as owner Ron Griffiths was actually in the market for a diesel ride-on rotary at that time back in the eighties. Having popped into his local Ford tractor dealer Harris of Hereford (now part of the Ravenhill Group) to see what they had got to offer he was advised that in actual fact it would be cheaper to buy a compact tractor with a rear mounted flail mower collector and Ron came home the proud owner of a four wheel drive 16 hp Ford 1210 compact tractor and a shiny new Amazone Groundkeeper. Now with 2097 hours on the clock and 27 year’s later this 1988 ‘F’ registered power unit still sits on the front of his Groundkeeper and it has been there permanently for the last 27 years! Maybe this is the oldest one out there in full working order?
And the running cost of the machine too date? Its on its fourth set of the Y grass flails – no long wing blades here in those days - and it’s still going strong on the original power band that drives the rotor! Not a bad advert for cheap maintenance costs and excellent reliability.
The machine lovingly cuts both sides of the main drive up from the road to the house as well as the lawns around the property and leaves that signature stripe effect from the rear roller. And it is in the area of the rear roller that Ron has put his engineering skills to use with a modification to give two rear rollers to even out any undulations caused by cutting in one direction all the time ‘We have to mow the drive the same way due to the slope of the ground and so we have travelled the same path for all those years and fitting the second roller has ironed out any effect of the tractor flail combination’, commented Ron as we looked round his pride and joy. The other slight modification is the electric winch to open the hopper which recently replaced the cable operated system that was fitted from new ‘I not as fit as I was once and cranking the handle is now a thing of the past’, says Ron as he explains the rationale behind the add-on. The Groundkeeper SmartCut of course now comes with hydraulic discharge as standard.
The football pitch in Wigmore used to also get the tender loving care of the Amazone flail but now, apart from a bit of scarifying, the machine stays at home and clocks up a few more hours each week onto that two thousand plus total.
Do you know where there might be an older one than this still working? If so, you might be on for that shiny new one.