Playgrounds around Town
When the First World War started in 1914 more than forty-thousand people lived in the city of Adelaide and documents from that time describe the streets as, quote, “swarming with children, especially in the poorer areas”.
But that changed when Charles Glover became mayor in 1917. Glover was a quiet generous man with a great social conscience and in 1918, he made a decision that changed our city forever.
Even though we had emerged from the shadow of the First World War Glover thought it was inappropriate to hold the annual mayoral ball so he thought rather than spend money on the rich I’ll do something for the underprivileged of Adelaide and he built the very first one of these.
Our City’s first custom-built playground opened here on South Terrace on a sunny spring day in 1918 and it’s been a favourite place to run amok for nearly a century.
This is Charles Glover at that opening; he commented that even though the City Council had been keen on the idea, they just didn’t have the money! But he did, and Glover dipped into his pockets again in 1920 to build another playground on Le Fevre terrace in North Adelaide, and a third on the corner of Wakefield Street and East Terrace in 1925.
Each playground had a full-time supervisor who was supplied by the education department and a direct line to the police in case undesirables refused to leave the area.
The photo’s you’re looking at show how popular these playgrounds were. Imagine what it would have been like to go from busy streets and dusty parklands, to a place with swings, monkey bars, sandpits and wading pools.
The children of Adelaide loved it back then and the fact Glover’s playgrounds are still popular today shows him to be not only generous, but a true visionary.