As a father of 5 young kids, I regularly go to children’s playgrounds. Having lived in Wrexham borough for 9 years, I’ve become something of a connoisseur of its many playgrounds: I know their many strengths and weaknesses. I know the sqeakiest and the most litter-infested, the cleanest and the most fun.
More widely, I’ve occasionally commented on archaeological/historical dimensions employed in them, including:
- a stone circle at the Severn Valley Country Park;
- a stone circle at Attingham Park;
- the Anglo-Saxon themed playground at Sutton Hoo
- medieval themed playground at Plassey
- a Second World War themed playground at Croome
In addition to these archaeological themes, there are many playgrounds that coincide with ancient and historic monuments, including:
- an adventure playground overlying Offa’s Dyke at Chirk
- a playground next to ruins of the medieval hospital at Llawhaden
Of course my kids spend quite a bit of time playing on and around prehistoric, Roman, medieval and modern sites and monuments, including modern cemeteries. Still, what I haven’t discussed in this blog is the heritage of playgrounds themselves.
What brings this to mind is one playground in Wrexham that, until 2016, retained features that clearly pre-date the innovation of health-and-safety conscious playgrounds from the 1990s. In fact, while I wouldn’t be sure of its precise date, the climbing frame looked like a leftover from the time of my youth: the ’70s or ’80s.
Sadly, I drove by it recently (in Trevor at the mouth of the Vale of Llangollen) and it has been completely re-designed. I’m not particularly nostalgic about playgrounds. The dangerous metal-bars of climbing frames, built over concrete surfaces, that I played on as a child have long disappeared from my old haunts of Reading. Yet to realise that the old slide and climbing frame have been removed did make me feel sad that my kids won’t face the same perils of dangerous play in council-run play facilities as I enjoyed as a child.
The end of an era…. To my knowledge, the Trevor playground was the last of its kind in North-East Wales.
It also makes me wonder: what is the oldest surviving children’s playground in the UK?