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Historically Themed Play Area, Culross, Fife

Historically Themed Play Area

Russell Play was awarded a tender to create a new design to rejuvenate an existing play park in the historic and picturesque village of Culross, situated on the estuary of the river Forth, in Fife. A group of local residents, the Culross Community Group, wanted to get rid of the old play equipment and layout and install something new and exciting for the children of the village. They asked Fife Council for help who took on the practical aspects of realizing their plans.

View across historically themed play area showing playhouse with slide and swings


Playground Design Concepts

Culross Community Group worked hard on raising the funds they needed for their new playground, while the Council set up a tender process for the project. They expressed a preference for a natural look and that the age range should be mainly aimed at toddler and primary school children.

Lighthouse themed timber playhouse with slight and access ladder at historically themed play area


Russell Play, along with the other playground design companies, were invited to submit designs. We were then all asked to display our ideas in the local primary school. Each company was given a room to set up their displays showing visuals of their designs and concepts featuring the play equipment they proposed. Local residents, school children and parents were then invited to view all of the ideas and choose which one they liked the best. The winner of the vote would then be asked to create the new play area.

There was a good show of interest on the night and people were encouraged to approach the displays and ask questions regarding the designs. Russell Play was selected in the vote and invited to make the new play area a reality. We won the tender as it was considered that we had best interpreted the vision in the brief. Part of that brief was not only to have a natural play look but also to reflect some of the unique history of Culross.

Children playing in sand play area looking across themed play area in Culross



Timber Play Equipment

The park is situated in a popular green area in the village surrounded by historic buildings and a war memorial. It also has a picnic area with views looking out onto the Forth past a coastal rail line. Russell Play used its bespoke Robinia timber range from Spielart for most of the equipment. The natural look does not spoil the setting which was very important, as Culross is one of the best examples of an unpsoilt 17th century village in the UK. The equipment itself is also mostly placed on natural surfaces like grass and sand.

There is a lot of play equipment offering an array of activities. There are three different sets of swings, two of which are double swings (2 flats and 2 cradles) and a bird's nest basket swing. There are also balancing and hopping logs, a seesaw and a tunnel all in the natural coloured timber.

Timber playhouse with slide for younger children and timber seesaw


The play area has some nice details making unique historical references to the village. The tunnel is a nod to the town’s mining heritage as Sir George Bruce made it the first town in the world to successfully mine underwater. The red roofs of the bespoke timber play houses are also a reference to its mining past. Many of the roofs of the houses in Culross have distinctive red tiles which are unusual for the area and time. This is thought to be as a result of collier ships returning to Culross with Dutch roof tiles which were used as ballast while transporting the coal. There are also two springers featuring a whale and a fish to reference the town’s location on the estuary.

Girls playing on themed timber sand play structure in historically themed play area


The new play park has proved very popular in the area. Culross, and its south facing waterfront location, are already an attraction to families at weekends and holidays and now the new play area next to the picnic area and coastal walk forms part of a larger attraction with an even broader appeal to visitors as well as locals. The design and theme are befitting of the village and provides the community with a great place to picnic and play on a sunny day.