Weavers Adventure Playground is located in Bethnal Green at Weavers Field Park near Oxford House in Tower Hamlets. It began in 1974 and has been a safe space ever since for countless children and young people to explore creative ways of being adventurous and ‘risky’ in their play under the supervision and guidance of playworkers. This oral history project started back in June 2022, kindly funded by the Gilda Street Trust, when we explored the history of the adventure playground movement, with its origins in the 1960s and '70s with a strong principle that parents and adults were only invited into children’s play upon their request and that children should be left as the sole creators and leaders of their play. It was a radical movement who chose to embrace children and disabled children’s desires and wants and to give them a voice.
We have recorded 13 oral history interviews, including memories of inventing your own football with worn-out clothing and making up your own games with a bag of elastic bands; going to bonfire nights to watch the fireworks with your friends and remembering being quite scared of them; attending Weavers due to it being as escape from the stress and worries of your day-to-day life; fun memories of trips to the seaside and parties during Halloween and Christmas periods; volunteering at Weavers in the kitchen to make hot nutritious food for the kids weekly, being there for the local community by setting up a foodbank during the Covid-19 pandemic and finally the funny and memorable stories of adults and parents coming back to share how grateful they are for a place like Weavers and the positive and transformative impacts it has had in
This project aims to finish by the spring of 2023 with the goal of producing a booklet and a website for Weavers Adventure Playground on its history and its impact in the community notably through the different types of play for children and young people it provides. Lurline Blake, a life-long volunteer for Weavers in the kitchen for 15 years described Weavers as ‘a nice multicultural place for everyone to come and join as one'.
Project Fieldworker: Tania Aubeelack
Project Manager: Rosa Schling
Funded by the Gilda Street Trust.