Let the Children Play

One of the aims of the Dream Garden project is to explore the ways that the pocket park can be used by the community. We are also keen to explore how local schools can potentially use the space for creative outdoor learning. Avant-Gardening’s Polly is particularly interested in the history of play and street games and so, when the opportunity arose, we were delighted to bring these strands together for a short activity with Tower Bridge and Snowsfields Primary Schools.

This year the schools have been studying World War 2 and as part of their education they put on a performance for parents that showcases what they have been learning. We were invited by the schools to make a short video backdrop for the performances. Exploring the evacuation of children out of Southwark and into the country we looked at the impact of the Blitz and how children viewed the, often strange, new environs of the countryside.

Resilience is a powerful trait and many of the evacuees began to explore the countryside and play games with their new friends. Whilst there is nothing to celebrate in war itself, we did want to celebrate the human spirit and children’s need to explore, socialise and play. So for the short film we used some props from previous projects to create a strange looking countryside and filmed the children talking about and playing games that would have been played in the days before the internet, before television even. We intercut this with historical documentary footage to create a collage of children at play, even during the adversity of war.

The sight of the traditional games even encouraged a couple of older passers-by to stop and share some of their own memories of playing in the streets around the area and giving a couple of tips on how to make yours the winning conker!

This project was made possible with funding from the Southwark Tenants and Residents Social Improvement Grant.

Bringing the countryside to Bermondsey