Seward St playground

  • 26
  • Sep

Did you know the site of the new Seward Street playground was home to a ‘Calvary Chapel’ for Queen Katherine of Aragon? The brand new playground – which opened on Saturday 17 December – has an interesting and varied history.

Records show that it was home to a windmill which blew down in a storm more than 500 years ago, then a ‘Calvary Chapel’ for Queen Katherine of Aragon. Henry VIII had the chapel pulled down and another windmill built in its place.

Then London’s first English Civil War fort and battery was built by the Parliamentarians. Later, it was a plague pit, a dunghill and then a dye-works owned by a Mr Seward who gave the site its name.

Its use as a park dates back to 1891 when the London Metropolitan Public Gardens Association declared it a public recreation ground, before it was given over to St Luke’s Vestry. It then passed on to the Metropolitan Borough of Finsbury which was incorporated into Islington Council in 1965.

The area was mainly industrial at the time and the playground was soon closed down and then leased to Dallington School in the 1980s. Times have changed and with many more families living in the area, the council decided it was time to return the playground to public use.

The Mayor of Islington was joined by about 250 excited youngsters on Saturday to celebrate the playground’s opening. The playground is the largest play area in the borough to be opened in decades. It is an exciting and interactive play space set among six mature plane trees in Bunhill ward in the south of the borough.

 

The new play equipment includes bespoke climbing structures set around the impressive mature trees, which use nets and platforms to encourage children to interact with each other.

It also boasts play tunnels, wall-mounted ‘pods’ for chatting with friends and a small sports pitch for ball sports, with new grassed areas, seating, railings and gates.  The playground is for under-14s, and adults must be with someone under 14.

Mayor of Islington, Cllr Kat Fletcher, said: “I had a wonderful time watching the youngsters explore all the amazing things this new playground has to offer, and sharing their happiness. This is a truly great space and I’m sure it will quickly become a much-loved place for the community.”

Funding for the playground was allocated by local ward councillors from section 106 developer contributions towards community facilities.

Cllr Claudia Webbe, executive member for environment and transport and a local ward councillor, added: “This new playground is a huge boost for local residents – it fits seamlessly into its surroundings while offering something for every child. The team worked hard to make Seward Street match the high expectations we have for our award-winning parks.”

A friends group is being set up for Seward Street Park.  People interested can contact greenspace@islington.gov.uk

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