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Pawson Play Area, Brightlingsea

Client: Brightlingsea Town Council

Cost: £150,000

Date: May 2022

Genre: Themed, Imaginative, Locomotor

A coastal rescue becomes a crown jewel play area

A popular destination on Brightlingsea Western Promenade, Pawson Play Area was in need of a ‘coastal rescue’ after being damaged by saltwater following an unusual tidal surge at the beginning of 2020, which flooded the site.

Funding was secured through insurance, the Town Council and District Council development funding. Following a competitive tender process Sutcliffe Play was awarded the contract to design and install a new playground.

Rather than restore the existing play area which had already become tired and worn, the Town Council sought to update it and create an accessible innovative play area that had impact and ‘wow’  factor.

Following site visits, and aware of the harsh environmental conditions that the new play area will endure, Sutcliffe Play created a design to meet these specific requirements while fulfilling the desire for a bright and engaging space, which was found to be a clear favourite at the public consultation. Taking inspiration from the coastal setting, we included several pieces of ‘pirate’ and ‘fort’ themed playground equipment to create an imaginative play area set against the backdrop of the Brightlingsea promenade and the sea beyond.

Every piece of equipment installed is made of flood-resistant materials, including the addition of galvanised lower parts, the unit has also been installed raised slightly higher than the main play space to help with erosion of the site. The robust and durable materials also reduce future maintenance costs.

Covering an area of over 94m2, the design centres around a large Ghost Ship multi-play unit as the focal point of the playground, creating imaginative play for older juniors aged 6-14. With a number of ‘sailing’ activities across multiple platforms, this unit encourages co-operation and social interaction on a large scale, accommodating up to 59 users at once.

The Ghost Ship is complemented by a second themed multi-play unit, for younger children aged 2-6. Fort Knight comprises a secret tunnel, arrow slit windows and dungeon bars as part of a castle theme and incorporates 23 activities to encourage the development of physical, locomotor, social and role play skills.

With no less than 30 Wet Pour floor graphics, the playground is packed with vibrant themed shapes including a 3D shark, stepping stones and angel fish, to spark children’s imaginations and encourage role play whilst being active and having fun.

A line up of three springies – including Wilbur Whale and Denzel Dragon – complete the overall theme of the playground, engaging children in social, imaginative, inclusive and physical play.

Graham Steady, Town & District Councillor for Brightlingsea Town Council & Tendring District Council said:

“We are so pleased with the end result and service we received from Sutcliffe Play. They did not just create a pretty picture, they ensured that the project ran smoothly from start to finish with an installation that was hassle-free and delivered on time. We now have a play area that has become the crown jewel in the area, ensuring that visitors and the local community have a playground they can be proud of. The refurbished playground has risen from the aftermath of the tidal surge with The Ghost ship themed piece of equipment at the forefront of an exhilarating play area which fits in exactly with the town councils development plans.”

Playground Equipment:


The Ghost Ship




Fort Knight

Wilbur Whale Springie

Rocker, Wilbur Whale, is an instantly recognisable image that all children are familiar with. Our Wilbur Whale has a tail, fin and a cheeky grin!

Spring Seesaw

A seesaw springie that is exhilarating and fun to ride. It has easy grip handles and secure footholds with anti-slip ends. Foot and heel rails in powder coated steel provide support and guide the feet in to the best position. The saddle seats are made from a grip texture HDPE.
Ground fixed, this springie is easy to maintain as the spring can be easily removed from the top and bottom fixings.

Denzel Dragon Springie

Using the inspiration of castles and fairy tales, Denzel offers a friendly face for a dragon character, with spikes down his head and back, a pointed tail, wings, sharp teeth and claws. A great themed springie that adds to our collection of characterful stand alone items and complements larger Toddlerzone+ items such as The Drawbridge, Rook and Fort Knight.

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