London Calling…. And The Winner Is

How cool, how awesome, how brilliantly, boundingly beautiful is an awards show for playgrounds? Not just any old playgrounds mind you, though there’d be nothing wrong with that, but adventure playgrounds in a world metropolis. Pinch me London is this a dream? No not a dream, all very real and fun.

The judging for this annual event took place last week. Winning playgrounds were recognized at Finchley’s Phoeneix Cinema where kid-produced videos were screened to the great delight of adventure playgrounders from around the city. The coveted title of London Adventure Playground of the year went to Glamis, Tower Hamlets. Full results are available here.

Funding cuts have resulted in the recent closures of some of London’s adventure playgrounds. The awards, first held in 2002, highlight the value and contributions the playgrounds make to kids’ daily lives. In a news release, London Play chair Melian Mansfield encouraged ongoing support for these community assets.

These are safe havens, often located in relatively deprived parts of London, where children can challenge themselves, be active, make friends and have new experiences. Any borough which is facing difficult financial decisions and is considering making cuts to play should watch these films and think again.

I first encountered adventure playgrounds shortly after I started the PlayGroundology blog. I’m still amazed at the care, creativity and seeming chaos that are are the hallmarks of their vitality. I am disappointed that they have not caught on in any real way in North America. I want to get our kids over to London in the next few years to be adventure playgrounders and experience even just for a few days some of the magic and magnificence of these endangered play spaces.

Bravo to London Play and the 95.8 Capital FM’s Help a Capital Child teams for making this a not to miss play event.

Here’s an archival gem from 1964 excerpted from the initial installment of the acclaimed British documentary Seven Up!. Does anyone know the name of this adventure playground?

For more on adventure playgrounds: London Play; Play England; UK Playground Adventure (great photos).

8 responses to “London Calling…. And The Winner Is

  1. I was there! It was a brilliantly fun time in an old movie theatre, with a raucous audience full of kids (and flying monkeys, no joke). Another lovely aspect is that the overall winner is chosen by the children who attending the winning AP of the year before. A fantastic morning, for everyone there and for the sector!


    • Hi Morgan, good to hear from you. Great that you were able to be there. I would love to be in attendance one year with our three young kids after a week of visiting and playing at adventure playgrounds central in UK. Do you have any photos of the event you’d care to share? Hope all is swell with you. Cheers, Alex


      • playeverything

        Ahh, sadly I didn’t take any. Hopefully you’ll get to see it for yourself sometime – and after the kids have played on one of the nominated sites they’ll have someone to cheer for! Things are good here, and hope likewise with you.

        I’m afraid I can’t ID the Seven Up! Playground at all, but did find that it’s not just children who have painted equipment at Toffee Park (


      • Hey Morgan, I always love to see people giving back so way to roll P Diddy. I have to start saving my pennies to get our whole crowd over the other side of that pond and swoop down on London for a couple of days. Pushed the clip out on FB to see if anyone can identify the adventure playground in question, next stop twitter. Weather has changed here, starting to cool. My kiddies are all great. We’ve enrolled the two school age pranksters into a French school board…


  2. The Seven Up! playground might be Toffee Park?


  3. Love the idea of the playgrounds awards. Must look into it ourselves. best of lcuk and great video guys.


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