Playground in Colonial Kowloon

It was the year Neil Armstrong debuted the original moonwalk. Get Back and Honky Tonk Woman were number one on the UK charts for six and five weeks respectively. Halfway around the world, the tail end of the sixties saw Hong Kong emerging from protests against British colonial rule.

Circa 1969, the first ever adventure playground in Hong Kong opened in Kowloon.

Source: The National Archives (United Kingdom).

It looks like it was a funky place to play.

Source: The National Archives (United Kingdom).

I’d love to hear from anyone who spent time in this playground growing up. I’m also looking for help to track down some more photos. If you have information or stories on this Kowloon adventure playground, please drop a line at playgroundology@gmail.com

My brother goofing at Victoria Park, Hong Kong.

In present day Hong Kong, the government has developed a handy online playground directory but none of them hold a candle to Kowloon 1969. It was a good year, looks like they broke the mold.

5 responses to “Playground in Colonial Kowloon

  1. Hello! I live in Kwai Chung, Hong Kong as it happens that I came across several photos of this playground in the government photo library while doing research today. This park was not in Kowloon. It was in Kwai Chung (the Shek Lei area in Kwai Chung, to be more specific), which is part of the New Territories. Let me copy the description I found in the 1969 Hong Kong Yearbook:

    “This exciting playground, filled with brightly-coloured abstract sculptures, is providing a huge success with children in Hong Kong’s Shek Lei resettlement estate. The playground, believed to be the first of its kind in South-East Asia, was created by American artist, Paul Selinger and was made possible by a donation of $150,000 from the Royal Hong Kong Jockey Club. The intriguing shapes of the sculptures present a challenge to the imagination of the children. As these pictures show, they have not been slow to take it up. The park includes such structures as ‘the labyrinth’ and the ‘batwing slide’, plus a sort of giant watch band the children can climb over. Mr Selinger says he wanted to provide something people could look at and also use for recreation. He hopes this unusual playground will be the first of many.”

    Sadly, this wonderful doesn’t exist anymore. Either it was demolished in mid- to late 70s to make way for residential development, or replaced by new playing facilities that were up to modern safety standards.

    I haven’t been able to find out its exact location yet, but it was likely to be located opposite to Wah Tat Industrial Estate. The site is currently an adventure playground.

    I found a letter written by Paul Selinger, the park designer, to a magazine / journal: https://books.google.com.hk/books?id=rDUEAAAAMBAJ&pg=PA8&lpg=PA8&dq=paul+selinger+shek+lei&source=bl&ots=Z98K6meT4b&sig=oNcC65PcfjPjZRbO7gJcblQzpms&hl=zh-TW&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjG9t6ylvjQAhUIGJQKHQOdAYsQ6AEIGjAA#v=onepage&q=paul%20selinger%20shek%20lei&f=false

    • Hello Lok Yi Fan, thank you so much for your notes about this playground. I am happy that you are able to set the record straight and correct my error here at PlayGroundology. Have you come across any more photos? If you have, I could do another post, include some commentary from yourself and excerpts from the letter. Let me know if this interests you. What is your focus in playground research? Wonderful to hear from you. Cheers from Nova Scotia, Alex. P.S. I will be including one of the photos from the media story on plyaground on PlayGroundology Facebook today.

      • Hi Alex, great to see your reply! I am not researching on playgrounds in particular. My organization is working with the Kwai Tsing District Council (“Kwai Tsing” = Kwai Chung + Tsing Yi) on an arts project about the district, so I have been trying to find old photos of the area. I am an architecture enthusiast so these pictures from the year book really caught my eye. What’s more wonderful is that these pics are indeed related to the district and so I can feature them in my event. The photos also showed part of Wader Film Studio, one of the major film studios in Hong Kong at the time.

        There are about 5-6 photos of the playground in the book and it takes a couple of days for them to dig out the image files. Due to copyright issues, I am not sure if they can be published online like that, but I’ll be happy to email them to you. You are most welcome to share or quote my comments, though!

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