Heathland restoration at Ferndown


Sean Dudley

English architect Jonathan Gaunt is in the middle of a substational reconstruction project at the Ferndown club in Dorset in the southwest of England.

Gaunt was asked to undertake a detailed audit of the historic course, originally designed by Open champion Harold Hilton, in the autumn of 2009. This process showed the need for the course’s bunkers to be reconstructed to suit the heathland heritage of Ferndown. Gaunt has previously done similar work on heathland courses at West Hill and Worplesdon. 

The first phase of the bunker remodelling work on Ferndown’s Old course, which included holes two-five and fourteen, was completed by contractor MJ Abbott early 2010. Phase two begins next month, and will comprise holes three, six-eight, ten, twelve, thirteen, sixteen and eighteen on the Old course.

Gaunt is also involved in a major woodland management programme, incorporating heathland regeneration, at Ferndown. This part of east Dorset has some of the best preserved native heathland in southern England, home to reptiles such as adders, grass snakes, smooth snakes, slowworms, common lizards and sand lizards, and birds such as the nightjar, stonechat and the much rarer woodlark and Dartford Warbler. Specialist ecological advice has been given by Bob Scott of the Sports Turf Research Institute. As part of this scheme over 1000 mixed species trees are to be felled in winter 2010/2011, which will transform the tree-lined Old course, allowing for increased light levels, improved air circulation and drainage. The result is hoped to be re-establishment of the native heath species of heather, ling, dwarf gorse and other acid grassland shrubs and grasses.