Queens Award for Voluntary Service

History of Fairfield Playground

3 mothers standing behind their children who are on the swings in the playground, 1951
Three mothers and their children on the swings in 1951

There has been a children’s play area on part of Fairfield Green for nearly 100 years, but in 1996 a local developer bought some derelict garages next to the Green, and applied to the site owners, the City Council, to buy a small part of the play area as well, in order to build new housing.

At first the Council supported his proposal. Local people, however, were very unhappy at the prospect of losing the amenity and the Fairfield Association was formed.

Saving the site

We offered a new solution: to raise the money ourselves to buy the garages and the land they stood on, have them demolished and use the site to extend the Green.

The 1997 AGM Chair’s Report records that we had:

  • formed ourselves into a charity
  • raised around £16,500 towards around our eventual aim with respect to the Green
  • removed the concrete areas at the top of the Green and re-grassed
  • installed the hedge at the bottom
  • installed 3 good quality benches
  • had dog waste bin installed
  • grouped the play equipment and installed safety surface under it

The City Council, who after initial opposition became very supportive of our efforts, provided around £15,000 of the total funding. As a result of work by Jon Barry, a tarmac cycle path replaced the track between the play area and the Fairfield Allotments.

Improving the site

When it became clear that very little funding would be available from the Council to improve the dated play equipment, in 2001 we decided to seek funding of our own, and launched a new project to upgrade the equipment, with special emphasis on extending the range to cater for older children.

We were delighted to secure both a Lottery Community Fund bid for £81,000, plus a bid for a further £10,000 from the City Council’s Single Regeneration Budget (SRB). These bids were accepted in November 2003, and the work to upgrade the play area was carried out during 2004. The Association would also like to thank CfBT (the parent company of Westbourne House Nursery) for their financial support in achieving this objective.

Playground Bulldozer
Work begins on the playground in 2004

Green and recreational in perpetuity

The Green is now a landscaped space with a large children’s play area, a footpath/cycle path (part of the city’s signposted cycling network) along one side, and a green area large enough for all sorts of activities including ‘Fairfield Fun Day’.

In 2012 The Fairfield Association, with the backing of the local community, asked the City Council to propose Fairfield Green as a QEII ‘fields in trust’ area and the application was successful. This means that the area will remain green and recreational in perpetuity.

QEII Fields in Trust Plaque

The safety surface was replaced in 2012 thanks to a grant from the Local Initiative Fund and special funding as a QEII Field in Trust.


Fairfield Playground has been well-used for years – now. It’s the hub of the community, but having been enjoyed by generations, it reached the point where it would soon be condemned. Fundraising began in early 2023. Watch our YouTube video to hear people explaining why it means so much to them and what we’re hoping to do.