Balsall Heath Adventure Playground – Oral Histories

As part of the ‘Let Us Play’ project, General Public have a number of oral histories now up online relating to Balsall Heath Adventure Playground (‘The Venture’). Some of these interviews have been done by children at Ark Tindal Primary School.

‘Walter the Whale’ constructed from old bed frames and concrete with local children in the early 1970s. Photographer was former playworker Dave Swingle. 

Ray Wills (first play-leader at the playground in the late 1960s):

Ray Wills discusses working as the main playleader at Balsall Heath adventure playground in the late 1960s, street-fighting, Old & New Balsall Heath, dens and forts, the Bishop of Birmingham paying a visit to the playground, Cannon Hill Park Tulip Festival, gaining the trust of local families, setting up a beach and lots more.

Val Hart (involved in the playground from the early 1970s until recently – as it evolved into ‘The Venture’, and later the site became Balsall Heath Children’s Centre / City Farm):

Val Hart talks about her involvement in Balsall Heath adventure playground from the early 1970s onwards, deprivation in the local area, the little boy and the goat, children’s rules, learning from the local children, the closure of the site and how the playground changed her life.

Haqi Ali (actor who spent his childhood playing on the playground):

Haqi Ali talks about growing up in Balsall Heath, the significance of Balsall Heath Adventure Playground / The Venture on the rest of his life, long summers, ‘Batman Park’ & the importance of the imagination.