Creative Playgrounds

Lady Allen Trust: Godmother of Play

Famous Adventure Playground in U.K.


You will find Lollard Street Adventure Playground nestled in a neighborhood in London. At first glance, all you can see is junk and the lack of a neat and tidy look of a typical playground.


When children arrive at Lollard Street Adventure Playground, their little imaginations kick into full throttle. It is quite entertaining to watch them invent, pretend and create.


The living legacy Lady Allen left is present in each of the adventure playgrounds that are all over the world. Her concept and theory of play provided the stepping stone for the creations of these “junky” playgrounds.


What a Child Enjoys at an Adventure Playground


When a child arrives at an adventure playground, they are excited and ready to dig in and play. These playgrounds provide a productive environment to play. Children benefit from this concept of play in many ways.


  • Spontaneous Free Expression: the playground provides the space where children are free to choose their form of play.


  • Engagement in Types of Play: the playground provides endless opportunities to engage and have rich interplay with other children.


  • Exploration: children explore the playground with a variety of senses such as physical, social, imaginary, and emotional while allowing them to tap into both physical and psychological experience.


  • Social Interaction: children have the innate desire to use their imagination and a playground such as this provides the environment to do so.

  • Giving and Responding Cues: children can engage in play that is on their terms. They follow cues such as facial, spoken or physical cues using materials indicating they desire to play.


  • Participating in Cycle of Full Play: once children are done playing, their behavior or props are discarded indicating they are finished.


  • Flexible Shared Space: children create things within the playground such as forts or huts and leave these things intact so upon their return, they can continue playing.


Mission Behind Lollard Street Adventure Playground


The focus of this playground is aimed at supporting children and parents to have a place to play that is creative and encourages each child to be responsible for their behavior and play. Giving them space like this promotes self-expression while respecting what others have created. A sense of ownership is placed upon what they build and create.


By giving children a place to freely play and call their own, it takes their attention away from hanging out in streets, being in a rut playing video games and becoming couch potatoes. Adventure playgrounds provide the space to exercise while engaging their minds.

Inclusion of All


Lollard Street Adventure Playground does not discriminate or turn any child away. All children have the right to play freely. Inclusion breaks down barriers helping children to rise above.


Playworkers are employed on the playground who work with children and parents to ensure that every child enjoys the time of play without any challenges. The playground is a place of equality through dialogue as well as play.


What is offered at Lollard Street Adventure Playground?


Adventure and imagination provide the basis of play opportunities. Children are supervised by playworkers to ensure they play safe.


There are many activities the children can do:


  • Building a hut or fort
  • Ziplining
  • Table tennis
  • Swimming
  • Climbing
  • Painting
  • Gardening
  • Cooking
  • Sports



What is a Playworker?


Playworkers are employed within the adventure playground to not only facilitate play but to provide the resources to the children they need to create and play. These workers will assist the children to assemble, disassemble and do whatever is necessary to empower the children to play without risk.


Why aren’t there more Adventure Playgrounds in other countries?


Lady Allen not only lived in the U.K. but also designed adventure playgrounds which quickly caught on in Europe. However, they are slowly making their way to the United States.


Today there are only about a hand full of adventure playgrounds in the U.S. because of factors such as:


  • Parents that are over protective and safety obsessed not allowing their children to play in an open environment like this
  • Parents have their children overly involved in activities that leaves no time for play
  • Fear of litigation
  • Fact that play in general is declining because of video games and other technology

Lady Allen Trust: Discovery of Creative Play

New Perspective and New Possibilities

Lady Allen gained a whole new perspective on what children wanted to play with. A shiny new playground with everything in its place was not attractive to the children. Their imagination was sparked more so with nothing more than junk.

The parameters of these “junk playgrounds” allowed the children to dig, build and experiment. Adventure and creative play were significant factors in developing the playgrounds.

The First “Junk” Playground

Emdrup, Copenhagen was the home of the first “junk” playground. Lacking any man-made structures, this playground was built with junk materials. Children played in this playground where they could stretch their imaginations.

Emdrup playground proved to be the beginning of many to come.

Moving On

Lady Allen went on to sell her home and moved into a new house which she renovated and built a garden around. During this time she wrote several books about gardening. Again, her attention was drawn back to the playgrounds for children.

She began a new campaign to produce “adventure” playgrounds based on the Emdrup playground.

The campaign for Adventure Playgrounds

It was time to move forward with plans and development of Adventure Playgrounds. The process of negotiations, dealing with neighbors that did not support the idea and the fundraising presented challenges. The first Adventure Playground opened welcoming children.

These playgrounds were at full capacity as children rode trolleys down slopes, used sticks and such to dig, creative play was in full force with an atmosphere that was friendly and happy.

Many more of these unique playgrounds followed and are now adopted in the design concept of playgrounds worldwide.

The Vision Fulfilled

Lady Allen’s vision to provide children with a place to play was realized. Her legacy thrives throughout the world with the theory of play that is evident in playgrounds. Children’s play had returned to a more organic root and is not forced, but rather allowed to bloom.

Read about Our Lady Allen