West Midland Turf Ltd
32 - 39 Woden Road
Heath Town
WV10 0AU
Tel: 0844 3350828 / 01564 772 327

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History of West Midland Turf
Learn about the background of West Midland Turf

the history of west midland turf

West Midland Turf was first established to sell lawn turf in 1967. The company was started by Shropshire farmer;
Edgar Davies as a diversification to a mixed stock and arable farm near Bridgnorth,Shropshire. Edgar was
well supported by his wife Paula who assumed the roll of the office staff - taking phone calls and dealing with turf customers enquiries.  

Initially, sheep-grazed pasture fields were the source of turf. The fields were improved by the application of herbicides to clear weeds, extensive mowing and rolling before the turf was cut and supplied to the fast-growing house-building industry around Telford and throughout the West Midlands.

During the early 1970’s, Edgar Davies experimented with growing specialist lawn turf on the farm from seed to improve the quality of the grass supplied.  At this time, there were very few ideal lawn varieties of grasses available and early seed mixtures were derivatives of agricultural grasses which were bred for fast growth rather than their
aesthetic properties. However, influences from the USA were leading to great changes in the UK turf industry. During the seventies there were major advances in both mechanisation of harvesting turf and the quality of lawn grasses available in the UK. Many of these advances were due to the efforts and enthusiasm of Chris and Janet Watmore of Sussex Turf (later to become Turfland) who regularly travelled to the States and imported advanced machinery and more modern methods of turf production.

West Midland Turf joined ASPA, (the American Sod Producers Association ) in 1979 and David regularly visited ASPA conventions in the USA to see the latest methods of turf production. These days, turf production in the UK is among the most advanced and modern in the world.

The acreage of specialist cultivated turf at West Midland Turf was gradually increased over the years and was sold as a higher-quality alternative to pasture turf. West Midland Turf was always innovative. It was one of the first Midlands
turf companies to adopt a palletised system to load turf onto lorries from the field. Most turf companies hand-loaded turf rolls and slabs at this time.  In 1976, the company purchased one of the first Brouwer semi-automatic Turf Harvesters to be brought  into the UK from Canada by Chris Watmore of Sussex Turf.

The Brouwer tractor-mounted harvester enabled a two-man team to cut and stack lawn turf  much faster with precision-cut, higher quality rolls. The company was also one of the very first in the UK to use lorry-mounted
‘piggyback’ forklifts to unload pallets at the customers’ site- long before their advantages were realised in other haulage sectors.

Edgar Davies’s son David had became a partner in the firm during the mid-70’s and after Edgar suffered a serious road accident in 1981, David assumed the full running of both the farm and turf businesses. Although Edgar was able to return to limited work after 2 or 3 years, he was in his late 60’s and was happy to leave the running of the business to David.

This enabled Edgar to devote more time to his other great life passion – rugby! The rugby ground at Bridgnorth is called The Edgar Davies Rugby Ground and is just one of the many legacies and achievements he left after a lifetime
involved with the great game.

In 1990, pasture turf production ceased completely and all turf supplied by West Midland Turf was grown from specialist lawn-grass seed, both at their farm and on rented land. The Turf  Producers Association (Later the Turfgrass Growers Association) was started in the early 1990’s by Inturf founder; Derek Edwards and West Midland Turf became one of the founder members. As an active member of the TGA, David Davies carried out several soil studies for the TGA in collaboration with The Royal Holloway and Cranfield Universitiesto investigate the effects of turf production on soil profiles.

In 1995, turf production was moved from the Bridgnorth area to land north of Telford where black sand soils provided much better growing conditions than the heavier Bridgnorth area soils. The free draining Telford soils and the availability of extensive irrigation facilities enabled much easier year-round production. The acreage steadily grew over the next few years while the company invested in a comprehensive range of modern machinery and vehicles to meet their customers needs.

In 2005, West Midland Turf moved to premises at Shawbury, near Shrewsbury which was much nearer to the main production farm north of Telford. The company had also become the UK distributor for Conwed Plastics, a global manufacturer of reinforcement netting extensively used in the turf industry.

In 2009, after over 35 years in the turf business, David decided to retire from the turf production side of the business and West Midland Turf was purchased by the present owner; Steve Hewlett of Steve’s Industries Ltd.  Production was moved to Steve’s farm at Knowle, near Solihull where he continues to grow and supply high quality lawn turf.  

David Davies has continued as the UK Distributor for Conwed Plastics and trades at Shawbury, near Shrewsbury
as Early Turf Systems.