All entries for Thursday 05 August 2010

August 05, 2010

Little Horrors

Adventure playground photo“I don’t mind the noise and I don’t think it is an eyesore”

With the school summer holidays now in full swing, parents are again faced with the annual challenge of keeping their children occupied during what must sometimes seem like an eternity until September.  In 1955 this need was met in Crawley (Sussex) by the opening of an adventure playground. This view of children busily engaged on construction work is from a booklet issued to mark the playground's first year of operation, in which the above comment by a tolerant neighbour appears.

The booklet (reference MSS.121/AP/3/11/2) is one of many records relating to adventure playgrounds in the papers of Marjory Allen, Lady Allen of Hurtwood,  landscape architect, campaigner for pre-school education, and promoter of child welfare.  The establishment of such playgrounds was a reaction against the constraints of the typical municipal playground with its swings and its asphalt.  The diary of the Crawley playground's leader, which also features in this booklet, shows that the local children relished the hammering, the digging and the bonfires, but maybe a modern health and safety inspector would take a different view.

This document features in an on-line version of Charity begins at Home, an exhibition staged at the Modern Records Centre for a workshop organised by the Economic History Society and the Voluntary Action History Society on 27 March 2010.  The items were chosen to illustrate some of the research interests of those attending.

Click on the 'thumbnail' for a larger image.

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