One of the leading independent boarding schools in the UK, Eton College was founded in 1440 by King Henry VI and is renowned for its famous alumni. From James Bond author Ian Fleming and former Prime Minister David Cameron to Prince William and Bear Grylls, the school has attracted some of the country’s leading names in politics and entertainment.
Though hockey has been played on and off at Eton for a long time, it is relatively new as a serious school sport, having been established with inter-school fixtures in 1991. Hockey is increasing in popularity, however, and there was a growing need to cater for the demands of Eton’s teams by updating the college’s facilities and pitches.
In order to upgrade its offering, S&C Slatter was appointed to build new hockey facilities at the school’s Willowbrook fields.
The project included two full-size pitches and one training pitch, all completed to FIH National Performance Standard – creating a significant resource for the sport, which is now enjoyed by a total of seventeen teams at Eton.
“The new sports facilities officially opened recently at Willowbrook are an impressive confirmation of Eton College’s commitment to excellence in all aspects of school life,” said Peter Fowler, S&C Slatter’s contracts manager.
“A pavilion with a striking contemporary design and presence is very much the focal point as it looks out on the superb new hockey facilities.
“Our status as an FIH Certified Field Builder – and our in-house holistic engineering skills – were important in pursuing and delivering a build programme tasked with producing an end product of the highest order.”
A significant element of the project was the support and ancillary infrastructure. For this, S&C Slatter created access roads, a 52-space car park, pathways and landscaping.
The design and layout, including the access roadway and paths, were designed to include eye-pleasing mix of angles, curves, colours and textures, which add visual interest and creates a sense of space. Even the Illuminated bollards set within the borders are softened by the imaginative use of plants, such as ornamental grasses.
Head of pre-construction Ben O’Connor added: “The construction process was very much driven by embracing and implementing a highly structured project plan with finite attention to detail in both pre-build planning and on-site management.”
The hockey project is part of a larger, ongoing redevelopment programme of the sports facilities at Eton College. Going forward, work will also include replacing a dilapidated and overgrown outdoor pool with a new aquatics centre, featuring a 25-metre pool and a new sports centre with a rifle range, eight squash courts, a sprint track and climbing wall.
Eton College headmaster Simon Henderson said: “Our boys learn as much outside the classroom as they do inside.
“Our sporting provision is fundamental to that. With the new sports facilities, we are doing so with very high-grade designs.”