Boscawen Play Park, Truro, Cornwall

Boscawen Play Park

Boscawen Park has everything a park should have for people of all ages in a community. As well as its impressive floral bed displays, bandstand and duck pond it has a great range of sporting facilities. These include a cricket pitch, three football pitches and eight tennis courts. All of these are surrounded and linked by open grass and wooded areas. In July 2015 Boscawen Park opened a fantastic new children’s play area designed and installed by Russell Play, further enhancing an already idyllic green space.

Children playing on timber carved ship wreck themed multi activity play structure

Playground Design Concept
The existing children’s play area in Boscawen Park was to be replaced with a whole new fresh look and range of equipment. The original concept for the Park was designed by MeiLoci Landscape Architects, working in close consultation with the 'Friends of Boscawen Park' and the local community. The concept was based on circular droplets of water which created different zones of play and also a natural progression from the more secure toddler space at the entrance, to more challenging older ages play to the farther end.

After the initial layout concept of the area had been devised, Russell Play was brought on board to bring their expertise and vision to the design. Given the traditional feel of Boscawen Park, it was important that the approach to creating the new playground maintained a natural look so as to complement and integrate within the park.

Girl playing on timber carved outdoor play equipment

With so much space on offer at Boscawen Park, part of the concept was to create a fairly compact layout for the playground to avoid large areas with no activity. The area is subdivided into larger units for climbing and balancing and smaller areas including a sand pit and sensory area. Surrounding these are various individual items with different activities with a mix of surfacing to split up the different areas. 

Accessibility for all children is integral to the whole design and influenced the choice and design of the equipment. Even on the larger timber elements there are good access points with varying levels of difficulty. A central, hard standing pathway links each zone and ensures good access to all activities. Where possible, the edges of the path are flush with adjacent surfacing.

Girl playing on steel tube slide of timber carved play structure

The areas have also been placed for good natural progression meaning children will be encouraged, but not forced, to progress through each. The most striking play features have been positioned near to the entrance to provide a focal point for visitors.

Play Equipment and Activities 
Given the idyllic feel of Boscawen Park, it was important to maintain a fairly natural approach with the new playground equipment. Russell Play has achieved this by not using equipment with a specific theme but allowing the children to interpret the equipment using their imaginations. For example, initial discussions led to the inclusion of a boat so rather than installing a traditional design, an abstract ship wreck was chosen to encourage children to play imaginatively. The items do not represent any particular theme in detail, but to a child they could be anything. The equipment will also integrate with the surrounding development and not appear too industrial. Furthermore, this type of equipment will appeal to a much broader audience.

Young girl playing on timber carved animal springer

In keeping with the natural look, the majority of the equipment is made from Robinia timber and left mainly in its natural colour to give it a rustic look. This is particularly effective with the shipwreck. The unstained timber will turn silver in time, adding to the ‘washed up’, shipwreck feel with only the addition of natural sky blue colour on selected parts.

The lookout tower is the most prominent play feature and creates a fantastic focal point. Although fairly challenging, the item has been designed to include as many different access points as possible, all with varying levels of difficulty. In addition, the item offers multiple tactile carvings and colour variations.

The sensory play gardens are designed to be a quiet zone for younger children to play with adult assistance in a relaxed environment. The sand play provides an enclosed friendly space with a large bespoke timber seat forming a space where adults can sit and supervise. This also features a small playhouse, sand bucket and pulley, spring animals and a sand play table. The sensory experience is created with carefully selected play pieces that introduce multiple sensations such as sound, vision, touch and smell.

Surrounding the main areas are various individual units with swings, spinning disc, high rotator, slide, basketball hoop and cable slide.

Throughout the development there was invaluable design input and support from The Friends of Boscawen Park, MeiLoci Landscape Architects and Truro City Council.

The Playground was funded by SITA Cornwall Trust, Truro City Council, and Cornwall Council, and the support of lots of other local businesses in Truro.