INTURF was set up in May 1985 by Derek Edwards. Having trained at the North Wales College of Horticulture, Derek spent several years with specialist horticultural and irrigation companies working on UK and overseas projects.
In the late 70s he joined Rolawn as Managing Director. By 1985, however, he was ready to set up his own specialist company.
He chose Pocklington in Yorkshire’s East Riding, unquestionably the finest region in the UK for growing top quality turf, with its stone-free, open, sandy soil in long, flat fields. Soon there were high quality nurseries in Scotland, the Midlands and Suffolk, and a regional office was opened in Bridgend.
To cater for the wide range of different conditions and usage that turf has to cope with INTURF developed special grass mixtures to suit all applications – a traditional fescue/bent mixture, pure fescue, a ryegrass and fescue mixture, and a version with added smooth stalked meadow grass. In addition INTURF offered a custom grown service.
Soon a succession of innovations were introduced, helping to change the face of the turf industry – low maintenance turf, drought resistant turf, turf treated to suppress annual meadow grass, and reinforced turf for heavy duty use, first used on the Grand Ring at the National Agricultural Centre, Stoneleigh.
Different turf can require different cultivation machinery, so traditional equipment was adapted to improve efficiency, including special seed drills, cultivators and hydraulic gang mowers and harvesters. A major leap forward involved the collaborative development of the revolutionary Big Roll turf harvesting system, followed by large metre square “lay and play” turf tiles for virtually instant use such as spot repairs on sports pitches.
In March 1992 INTURF was the first turf grower to win BS5750 Quality Assurance accreditation from the British Standards Institute.
By now INTURF’s client list included many top golf, football, cricket and bowling clubs, racecourses and stately homes and gardens.
But it didn’t stop there. In the summer of 1996, to help mark the “Streets for People” campaign, INTURF turfed the whole of Methley Terrace in Leeds – 100 yards of tarmacked road with housing down one side and the local school on the other. It was watered by local children ready for the “Methley Olympics and the alfresco screening of an episode of Strictly Ballroom. Two days later the terrace was back to normal.
In 1997 the development of Millennium Turf was announced - a new mixture of ten of the best and most advanced grass species, initially for landscaping and lawns, which would first be harvested in January 2000.
Meanwhile, at a top secret location in Warwickshire the company was laying special turf for a new children’s TV programme for the BBC featuring four fluffy characters known as Tinky Winky, Dipsy, Laa Laa and Po, or collectively as the Teletubbies. And in a much better known location in south west London two very famous tennis courts, Centre Court and Number One Court were being re-turfed.
By now Derek’s twin sons, Stephen and Alex, were an integral part of the senior management team, and in 1998 the business moved to a new larger headquarters at The Chestnuts in Wilberfoss, East Yorkshire.
The new millennium saw INTURF commissioned to supply the turf for, amongst many others, the bowling greens being built for the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester, for the Jubilee Gardens at the London Eye and for various lawns in gardens at the Chelsea flower Show. They were even involved in October that year in lifting the pitch at Wembley Stadium in readiness for its major reconstruction. It was also the year that Alex, working closely with Bolton Wanderers’ head groundsman, came up with the idea of growing a complete customised pitch for the Reebok at INTURF’s Grantham nursery.
In January 2003 Derek passed the reins to his twin sons Stephen and Alex as Joint Managing Directors, and in July INTURF hosted the Turfgrass Growers Association Turf Show.
The productivity innovations continued. In 2004 7,500 square metres of Fibre Reinforced turf was installed at Goodison Park using INTURF’s newly developed Super Wide Turf Technology specifically for football pitch applications.
In 2005 Stephen took over the Chairmanship of the TGA.
Soon the list of satisfied customers included Lords and Edgbaston Cricket grounds and Ascot Racecourse. And the list continues to grow, with sports venues in golf, football, rugby, cricket, bowls, horse racing, garden landscaping of stately homes, municipal and community recreational areas, airstrips and even film sets – not to mention the thousands of garden lawns up and down the country.