St Helen’s Primary School, London Borough of Newham

St Helen’s Primary School

St Helen's is a Catholic Voluntary Aided Primary School situated in the London Borough of Newham. The original school known as St Margaret’s was founded on the site in 1870 and and a second school St Helen’s was built in 1908. Both were destroyed in World War II and St Helen’s was rebuilt in 1951. The current school was rebuilt in 2009 and was officially opened in 2010.

Timber playhouse with fireman's pole access ladder and climbing wall

Russell Play were asked to design a challenging new playground for the children which would provide lots of varied activities and visual interest. The play equipment had to be stimulating for users of all abilities and combine fun with educational experience.

Our design provided very popular with teachers and pupils alike because of its striking appearance and fantastic range of activities. We were able to fully utilise the existing space by using bespoke timber items of equipment. The playground concept was to create an obstacle course that could be accessed easily by children of all abilities. The children start their journey in the ‘hazard’ area which is the witch’s house, from which they have to escape and avoid the wolf! A mixture of traversing and climbing elements guide the way to the safety zone which is a comfortable, social area and a good viewpoint for the whole playground.

Low level trail timber play structure for balancing and climbing


Particular attention was paid to the choice of colour, both on equipment and the surfacing. Durable wetpour surfacing was used to meet drainage requirements and hand-carved benches were included to introduce a meeting place for the children and observation point for supervisors.

Timber playhouse with access ladder platforms and lookout windows