Category Archives: Seven Up!

Remembrance of Things Past – Playing in London

The first wave of commuters have already done their thing at Canary Wharf’s temporary ‘live young evian playground’. Their gamboling about on a spontaneous break as they make their way to work or school has set off snow machines and for many triggered crisp memories of past play escapades.

Tufnell Park Primary SchoolTufnell Park Primary School, London – 1955. Source – City of London.

From the outside looking in, London is a great city of play. Distinguishing characteristics include its adventure playgrounds scattered throughout the city, a top notch organization, London Play, that advocates on behalf of children and families and likely the highest concentration of playworkers anywhere in the world (a great interview with Penny Wilson on play philosophy of playworkers).

Vauxhall Primary SchoolVauxhall Primary School, London – 1965. Source – City of London.

But there is still a need for action in support of play in the UK’s largest city.

Nearly half of children in London surveyed say they do not play out as much as they like. London Play aims for every child in the city to have high quality, accessible and inclusive play opportunities. London Play campaigns for more and improved play spaces and services, and support playwork in the capital.

Ainsworth Nursery School PlaygroundAinsworth Nursery School, London – 1972. Source – City of London.

This morning in Battersea, Wandsworth Against Cuts is occupying the Battersea Park Adventure Playground in a last ditch effort to save it from demolition. Click through here for a story that ran last night on ITV’s London Tonight reporting on the occupation.

Battersea Adventure Playground - ITV

A call to action to London commuters enjoying a spot of play over the next few days at the Canary Wharf and Finsbury Park ‘live young evian playgrounds’ – play needs your active support and participation. Get out and play with your kids, empower them to play outdoors on their own, support organizations like London Play, Play England and your local adventure playground. Ask your elected representative what they’ve done for play lately.

Laycock Primary SchoolLaycock Primary School, London – 1974. Source – City of London.

Commuters, remember your days of childhood play – adventure, imagination, discovery, friendship and fun and think about what you can do for play.

Danone, great play branding on the ‘live young’ campaign. The evian playground promotion presents an excellent opportunity for Danone to determine how it can contribute to improving the play possibilities of children throughout the world. What a leading edge, corporately social responsible engagement that could be – a great addition to other good works the firm supports such as the Danone Ecosystem Fund.

For more images of play in London check this 2012 pictorial in The Mail Online – wonderful images.

Today’s last words, and squeals of excitement, on play in London go back to 1963 and the first filmings of the Seven Up! series by acclaimed British director, Michael Apted.

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).

Popular PlayGroundology Posts Year II Revisited

This is my second and final act of self indulgence vis à vis rebroadcasting PlayGroundology posts from year two. I think each of the four embody the magic and wonderful possibilities of the interweb whether they relate to researching, sharing, or collaborating. I hope you’ll enjoy these offerings. Thanks for visiting PlayGroundology.

Newsreel Playgrounds – British Pathé

Thanks to the assignment editors, producers and cinematographers at British Pathé for this selection of playgroundabilia ranging from 1939 to 1967 in various UK locales.

Click on the image to be taken to the play page. Clips can be played at full screen and each has a detailed shot list. Enjoy and thanks again to British Pathé for making their inventory available for public viewing.

Bolton Schoolyard Playground – 1939 – Runtime: 00:50

In all, there are five vignettes to enjoy. This spring I am planning a guest post on the British Pathé blog about these visual treasures and any others that I can source. More…
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Flickr Blog Features PlayGroundology Curated Photos

Click photo to enlarge

What a pleasant surprise when I discovered that the Flickr blog had featured some photos curated by PlayGroundology in a flickr gallery entitled Swedish Aesthetic.

I never tire of thanking the photographers who post their images to flickr. Curating photos using the gallery function is nothing short of a gift. More…
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Seven Up! meets Adventure Playground

I came across a reference earlier this week to the adventure playground scene in the British documentary Seven Up!. The ongoing popularity of this television documentary made it relatively easy to find on the wonderbox as I sometimes call the internet. The acceleration of the opening sequence is zippingly exhilarting. More…
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ABCs for Play – Call and Answer

Starting this morning and ending on Christmas Day, PlayGroundology will be going through the alphabet one letter per day and asking people to submit their favourite words related to play for that letter.

PlayGroundology will send out a tweet ‘call’ each morning with some of its favourites and wait to receive ‘answers’ from others with their favourite play words for the letter of the day.

It was a great participatory game with wordplay and playwords galore. The A through Z results, ranging from 20 to 60 words per letter are posted on PlayGroundology. More…

Seven Up! meets Adventure Playground

I came across a reference earlier this week to the adventure playground scene in the British documentary Seven Up!. The ongoing popularity of this television documentary made it relatively easy to find on the wonderbox as I sometimes call the internet. The acceleration of the opening sequence is zippingly exhilarting.

The first installment of the documentary, directed by Paul Almond for Granada TV and from which this excerpt is pulled, was broadcast in 1964 when the kids were all seven-years-old. The subsequent docs were shot at 7 year intervals and directed by Michael Apted. 56 Up is expected to be broadcast in May 2012.

Play with a child until the age of seven and you have planted a seed that will bloom over and over through the years.

I wonder how many of the now aging adults remember that day in London nearly 50 years ago? After a party and a trip to the zoo, the kids had an outing at this unidentified playground. Was it the first and last time they played together? I say let’s get the remaining participants into playground scenes with their children and grandchildren for 56 Up.

The Up Series is widely acclaimed and now available as a boxed DVD set. Excerpts of the film are also posted on YouTube. Michael Apted is interviewed about the series here.

When my kids Noah-David (6) and Nellie-Rose (4) watched this footage earlier today, they wanted to know when we could go and play at this playground and why there weren’t adventure playgrounds where we live. I said we’ll try for a trip across the pond, or to California where the spirit and the manifestation of adventure playgrounds are alive and well.

London continues to be noted for its adventure playgrounds. Check London Play for more details.

Seven Uppers – thanks for this playground scene all those years ago. It is full of adventure, play and the magical breath of the moment.