Project news and updates

Project News & Updates

4th May 2016 - Islington Play Association presents "It's Ours Whatever They Say"

We are very pleased to announce that we will be holding a play heritage exhibition, "It's Ours Whatever They Say", at the Islington Museum this Spring. "It's Ours Whatever They Say" is a playful exhibition celebrating half a century of adventure play in Islington. The exhibition is the result of a two year Heritage Lottery project which saw us explore and uncover the story of the adventure playground movement in Islington.

---->Heritage Poster


26th June 2015 - The Story of Crumbles Castle

By Jordan James, Play Heritage Development Worker

Taken from extracts of articles and stories we have heard so far, the research team have collated a piece about Crumbles Castle.

---->HER Crumbles 3

Picture: Summer activity run by Islington Bus Company at Crumbles Castle - notice that the castle itself is in the process of being built.  

“There’s a castle in the middle of Islington? How?”

“How old is it?”

“Did royalty live there?”

One of the many joys of "Play, Past, Present and in Perpetuity", our heritage project funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, is that the research team gets to find out the answers to these fascinating questions! Crumbles Castle is indeed a castle in the middle of a city, and here is what we know about the story so far:

"The Crumbles" was the name given to the Beaconsfield Buildings on Randell's Road in Islington. A campaign was started in 1965 to get rid of the buildings that were regarded as the worst in Islington. There were many demonstrations and marches in the campaign to get the Greater London Council (GLC) to purchase the building and get it demolished, and in the spring of 1971 they did just that.

Once the demolition happened, the playleader and the Bemerton Adventure Playground Committee asked for help to make a permanent site for their playground. They sought the help of architecture students from Regent Street Polytechnic, with the students Bob Hamment Catherine Davis, Ken Pearce and Robert Parker asked to build a shelter.

"So the Students got together with the kids and decided to build a shelter, so that the playground could be open throughout the year no matter how cold, dark or wet the weather. No one wanted another boring box for a building. Why not a Submarine or a castle? Yeah! Let's have a Castle!" Said the kids, and the castle was born.

The castle was made out of granite blocks which were dug up from the old buried courtyards of Crumbles' tenements. An arrangement was made with the local ready-mix concrete depot, who would leave left over concrete for the playground and all the cement and mortar was mixed by hand. Telegraph poles, salvaged bricks and timber, the top of a London bus, steel windows from council estates and rubber tyres have all been re-used to build the castle.

The tower was one of the most complicated parts of the castle to build. At ground level, Laings, the big construction company, helped the project by putting in the mains drainage and manholes for the toilets. The first floor contains the water tanks and a tiny playroom that overlooks a sandpit and roof garden for the younger children. The battlements on top of the tower are held up by a ring of concrete supports, moulded from old car tyres.

Crumbles Castle had its grand opening in the summer of 1976 when Islington Play Association held a medieval festival at the playground - where better to hold a medieval festival than your very own castle?

The construction of the castle, even though it was led by the team of architect students, relied very heavily on local people helping out. If you helped to build Crumbles Castle please get in touch as the research team would love to hear your story.

Jordan James, Play Heritage Development Worker
Phone: 0207 607 9637 /020 7607 3586

18th February 2015 - Archive training session coming up next week

As part of our Heritage Lottery Funded project, 'Play, Past, Present and in Perpetuity', we will be putting on an archive training session open to all our staff and volunteers.

---->Archive Training Feb 2015 Image

If you would like to come along, please contact our Play Heritage Development Worker, Jordan James.
Phone: 020 7607 9637

19th January 2015 - Play, Past, Present and in Perpetuity uncovers how Martin Luther King Adventure Playground was set up

In honour of Martin Luther King day, Jordan James, Play Heritage Development Worker, has written about how Martin Luther King Adventure Playground (Sheringham Road) was set up. This information has been uncovered as part of 'Play, Past, Present and in Perpetuity, a project funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund. 

---->Martin Luther King - Heritage


By Jordan James, Play Heritage Development Worker

In 1968 an Adventure Playground opened for a summer play scheme on some derelict land. It was a 10 acre site surrounded by a high corrugated iron fence, completely empty and unused and there was at the time nowhere for the children to play. The Greater London Council (GLC) gave permission to the parents to use the land for a Summer play scheme.

The summer playscheme needed funds to cover expenses for volunteers, so Anne Power approached the British Council of Churches and Christian Aid. Christian Aid agreed to help on the condition that the funding was matched.

Anne had heard that the Martin Luther King foundation was giving out grants to fund community projects in multiracial areas in the county. The foundation agreed to give the playground a grant; their central condition for their grant was that the playground was to be named after Martin Luther King. And it has remained that way ever since.

On the day that they first opened their gates, hundreds of children poured into Martin Luther King and TV camera crews arrived to interview the mothers, Jeanette Caruana was nominated as the best spokes mother (this also started her involvement with the Adventure Playground).
By September 1968 the GLC agreed to a permanent playground on a corner of the large 10 acre site. They also announced plans to turn the site into "Paradise Park".

The corner the Adventure Playground had been given had a derelict Old Woodbine Tobacco Factory on it, in the Spring of 1969 with the help of prisoners from Pentonville Prison, the Martin Luther King Association members and parents started to do up the playground.

Coretta King, the widow of Martin Luther King visited this country, brought over by the Martin Luther King Foundation. As the Adventure Playground was the first project that the Foundation had supported, they wanted her to visit and see what they had achieved. She came with her sister-in-law and two of her children and actually spent time at the playground with the mothers and children. The playground was also visited by Mother Theresa of Calcutta.

- - -

Did you play at Martin Luther King or any other adventure playground and have stories to share? If you did, please get in touch with Jordan James, Play Heritage Development Worker, at or 020 7607 9637.

17th June 2014 - The construction of Crumbles Castle

By Jordan James, Play Heritage Development Worker

Last week I met with Catherine Davis and Robert Parker, two of the architects who worked on building Crumbles Castle. It was great to hear about how Crumbles became a castle. We toured the building and ended up on the roof, where I was surprised to learn that underneath the tarmac, there was originally the top half of a double decker bus. That’s right, a bus on the roof of Crumbles Castle! It was also interesting to learn that the original plans included a grass rooftop.

---->CrumblesCastle_Visit    ---->CrumblesCastle_Visit2

---->CrumblesCastle_Visit3    ---->CrumblesCastle_Visit4  


If you helped to build Crumbles Castle from 1970-1976 or know anyone that did then please get in touch: / 020 7607 9637 

20th May 2014 - Play, Past, Present and in Perpetuity

By Jordan James, Play Heritage Development Worker

We have started exploring the history of the Adventure Playground movement in Islington over the past 40 years. As you can see from the picture there are a LOT of people to get in touch with. If you know anyone who was involved with the Adventure Playground movement or you attended one of the 12 playgrounds please contact Jordan James.


Jordan James, Play Heritage Development Worker
Phone: 020 7607 9637

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Islington Play Association | UK Registered Charity No.1086165 | UK Company No. 3989283