London’s Somerford Grove Adventure Playground Makes The New York Times Magazine

There are four stunning, brilliant images in the March 1 edition of the The New York Times Magazine offering glimpses of children at the Somerford Grove Adventure Playground in London, England.

Photographer: Mark Neville, The New York Times Magazine, March 1. Click image to enlarge.

The entire Here is London photo essay by photographer Mark Neville is well worth a look. Images 7 through 10 feature the kids at Somerford Grove.

From my perch on the other side of the pond in Halifax, Nova Scotia I find the adventure playground images particularly striking. There is nothing similar in my experience here with which I can compare these photos. The playgrounds I’m familiar with in the North American context are by and large so antiseptic and predictable. Adventure playgrounds for the most part did not take root in Canada and the US. What a shame for us who live here. There are exceptions such as in Berkley, California but they are few and far between.

It’s no mean feat to keep an adventure playground running, or for that matter to get one up and going in the UK. Somerford Grove was the first to be built in London in over 20 years.

Source: Haringey Play Association. Click image to enlarge

Bravo to all those community members who are supporting the Somerford Grove Adventure Playground, to the Scouts, the kids and benefactors far and wide.

Source: Haringey Play Association. Click image to enlarge

What kid wouldn’t want to play here?

Signing off this post with Part Two of a three part video looking at anti-social behaviour that features Somerford Grove Adventure Playground.

6 responses to “London’s Somerford Grove Adventure Playground Makes The New York Times Magazine

  1. Nice find! I was fortunate enough to spend some time at Somerford Grove in 2009-2010; it’s a phenomenal place, and the playworkers there – like Cathy, featured in the video – are simply treasures. The place has a very interesting history as well: located in Tottenham, one of the most economically depressed parts of London, the playground really has become a second home or community for many of local children.

    The playground is well worth checking out, if you’re ever in London!


    • Hi Daniel thanks for the comment. It adds a real personal touch. If I ever came across a gazillion dollars, I’d love to take a trip with my family to visit every playground that’s been featured here in PlayGroundology. I think adventure playgrounds would pretty much top the list. It really is such a shame that they have never really caught on in North America as they have in England and other parts of the world. I hope the photos and video brought back some fond memories. Cheers, Alex


  2. For Mark Neville, who took the picture on the cover of the International Herald Tribune, Saturday, March “…. in a word, fabulous….!

    It printed like a Norman Rockwell painting, and I just can’t take my eyes off of the boy. Bravo Mr. Neville!

    Moe Delaitre
    Ussy sur Marne


    • Thanks for your note. Mark Neville’s photos struck me as soon as I saw them too – evocative of so much more than play. I love ‘Boy Warrior’. It reminds me of my wonderful son Noah-David who is a real guerrier on the soccer pitch. Cheers, Alex


  3. Hi all.thanks for the support. what a great job what a priveledge to be among children at play. Any funders -more millionaires out there – HELP we cant pay our workers after march and i will be on my jacks! Many young peeps and parents volunteer to help ad hoc – often with their own unplayed out needs to be there – but we need trained and reflective playworkers on site – not to help the kids to play – but who have the playwork principals to not stop them. cheers Cathy O’Leary playworker Somerford Grove


    • Hi Cathy – thanks for writing. Another play supporter, Daniel, who commented earlier told me he had met you when he had the opportunity to visit Somerford Grove. I hope this small post in PlayGroundology helps to spread the word a little about the great work you are doing there for community kids. Has any more interest been generated through the NY Times Magazine photos? I think it safe to say that generally the playworker concept is not well understood in North America. It is terrible when resources for kids and families are compromised. I hope that you are able to identify a benefactor or find another means of keeping the operation running beyond March. Alex


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