Monday, December 27, 2010

Out and about in Bethnal Green

When I was in London this fall, I spent a few days doing research at the Victoria and Albert Museum of Childhood in the neighborhood of Bethnal Green. There was a transit strike that week, so the tube was closed and I took the bus across the city. I budgeted about 2.5 hours, but it miraculously only took about 90 minutes so I [quite luckily] had an opportunity to walk around a little bit before my appointment. There were so many great things to see there.

The highlight of my walk came when, just as I was headed back to the Museum, I happened upon this: a magical, creepy/cool empty ADVENTURE PLAYGROUND! I'm not at all sure what the history of this place (or others like it) is. At the time of its construction, it must have represented all kinds of possibilities and optimism, but it appeared pretty desolate when I came across it. (Granted, the posted hours indicated that it's used after school hours in the afternoons). A government notice on the iron fence also said that they would have to charge 1 pound per child due to recent cutbacks. It's unclear whether it's still in use, though some of the features looked like they were in pretty bad shape. Without anybody playing on its structures, the bright colors against the rainy sky and dull brick buildings made the playground look so haunting and forlorn. Adventurous, for sure.

*I've vowed to totally clear out and reformat my camera's memory card before the new year, so watch out for a few more London photos soon!


Daniel said...

As a follow up, I was able to dig up this profile of Weavers Adventure Playground that Norman wrote for his book, "An Architecture of Play" (published in 2003, so obviously things have changed):

Started up by a group of parents on bombed weavers’ cottages and officially opened in 1975, the playworker Tracy Salmon played here as a child. Like many of the best playgrounds, Weavers’ spirit has been helped by continuity of staffing.
The structures are kids-built and constantly changing. Timber is scavenged and donated and they still collect junk for building. Until 1990 the playground was also a city farm. At one time it was famous for its TV- themed structures and sculptures and Brian Cant from the children's TV programme Playaway made a VIP guest visit.

linda; said...

lovely-lovely. like your blog and pictures.

la_sale_bete said...

Daniel: Thanks so much for sharing your knowledge and research about Weavers and Adventure Playgrounds in general! (I did receive your first comment via email notification...not sure why it didn't post here). I would love to see Weavers full of people playing--it looks like such a fun space! Hopefully it will weather these hard financial times and I can go back some afternoon.

Linda: Thanks so much! I like your blog too!