A playground in Wantage has reopened after three years following a £70,000 refurbishment.

The Smith’s Wharf play area was initially closed in March 2020 as part of the Government mandated lockdown during the Covid-19 pandemic.

It is located on the route of the canal towpath and was a popular spot prior to its closure.

After it shut, the play park was then registered to the Vale of White Horse District Council in October 2021 and works were planned to revitalise the area.

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Herald Series: The refurb work cost £70,000.The refurb work cost £70,000. (Image: Ed Nix)

After a £70,000 effort, the playground has been entirely redeveloped and the park was reopened on Monday, May 13. 

Longtime Wantage resident Rodney Tillotson has lived in the town for 35 years and is happy to see the site now in use.

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Herald Series: The area opened up again on Monday, May 13.The area opened up again on Monday, May 13. (Image: Ed Nix)

“The space where the playground is, was for a long time part of a working scrapyard, but is now a fairly mature housing development, of town houses at the playground end and flats at the town end,” he said.

“The playground was something the developers provided and was well-used until it showed cracks and was fenced off for safety.

“The developers are no more and I believe the parks department of the Vale had taken responsibility for it.

"Covid then came and went but the site was an eyesore one way or another for several years.

“A month or two ago contractors appeared, made good the structural edge of the playground, critical because it is built on a slope, resurfaced it with a safe soft material, and then just removed their fencing and left the playground safe and accessible.”

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Herald Series: The play area shut in 2020.The play area shut in 2020. (Image: Ed Nix)

According to Rodney, families raced to use the newly refurbished facilities last week, and more children are making sure the play park is used each day.

“The next day local families from new and old homes were using it, with evident pleasure for adults and children; and now there are more,” he said.

“So it's an eyesore restored and a valuable amenity for this corner of the town.

"Everyone I have spoken to is grateful, though it's not obvious to many who did it. Thank you to somebody.”

A spokesperson for Vale of White Horse District Council said: “We’re delighted that the Smith’s Wharf play area has reopened following its closure so the community can enjoy the improved facilities.

“Funding was obtained in 2023 to provide a new retaining wall, improve the playground surface and improve the pedestrian barriers to make it easier for those using mobility scooters to navigate the pathway alongside the play area.”

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