Playground campaign pays off

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THE expressions on the children’s faces tell their own story. They are not happy.

The answer lies in the state of the playground area on their estate at Smith House.

The photograph was taken in the mid-1990s and was the children’s way of summing up their feelings about the state of their playground. Did these efforts and their publicity work? In this case it did.

I was at the grand opening a few years later and when it came to the ceremonial cutting of the ribbon it was pleasing to see the number of residents, particularly children, involved in the party atmosphere.

Readers may remember some of the earlier community associations on the estate.

When I first started working there in the mid-1970s the late George Warne tried to establish a community association but it only lasted a short while and then went the way others before it had.

Even earlier, in 1946, a new community hut was priced at £400 but to have a lined hut was felt to be more appropriate for the type of events they intended to hold. That increased the cost to a staggering £635. By 1950 that had risen to just under £2,000.

Smith House Residents’ Association eventually got its centre and by the early 1960s committee members were seeking further grants for crockery and other utensils. By 1963 the association was asking for a new children’s playground which, if approved, would be built on the vacant land in the middle of the estate.

Many happy events were held at this community centre but sadly the building gradually fell into disuse. Even now I can still remember passing it on the no. 47 Stoney Lane bus on my way home from school. The building had all its windows smashed and vandalised beyond repair.

Towards the end of 1970 the building was deemed unsafe and following the news that the association was winding up, and the building was no longer viable, a tender of £240 was accepted to demolish the building.

Many of these children would have been at the new improved playground opening ceremony, an occasion when they had a lot more to cheer about.