A Brief Playdale Playgrounds History

Who We Are

Playdale today is a family concern, steered with care by our employees from our base in Cumbria. However the company has a long history, and over such a span of time, many changes and evolutions have happened.

From a timber business operated out of the family farm, to an innovative and market-leading playground designer with clients worldwide, Playdale’s journey to what it is today has been a long and varied one.

9 Generations of the Family Business

The history of Playdale stretches back, by some measures, all the way to the 1700s. The Croasdale family began working in the forestry and allied timber tradesin 1735 with Henry Croasdale, when he re-runged a ladder and re-shafted a spade for the Finsthwaite Parochial Council.

In the 1800s, the Croasdale family had a plot of land in the Leven valley in Cumbria, from which the family farmed and traded timber. Isaac Croasdale owned a boat for transporting cotton, and sold provisions. The old swivel chair from Isaac’s boat is still kept in Playdale’s offices today, a priceless heirloom of sorts, and a reminder of the company’s long heritage!

In the late 1880s, James Croasdale farmed the land at Woodcroft farm in Haverthwaite village. The new Playdale factory and offices are situated in a field known as Pennycroft, which formed part of the farm back in those days. Our roots in South Cumbria stretch this far back, and continue to this day.

From Small Seeds, Great Trees Grow…

The beginnings of Playdale in its modern form came about in 1978. The playground at Leven Valley Playing Fields in Haverthwaite  needed to be replaced, very close to the current site of Playdale’s operations today. Jack Croasdale was building the new community centre at the time and asked his son John to get some playground equipment brochures. Once they saw that some of the equipment was constructed from timber logs, they decided to use their expertise in timber to make their own. This swing towards playground equipment turned out to be an inspired one, building three more playgrounds that year, and only 5 years later in 1983, the Croasdales wound up the timber business, to focus solely on building playground equipment.

Continuing the Upward Trend

During the 1990s, Playdale continued to expand its business and its client base. Our first adventures in international export came in 1991, with a playground at an orphanage in Bucharest, Romania. We also became the UK agent for Agorespace, providing Multi Use Game Areas and sports pitches to schools and councils across the country. These steps helped the company to expand, and to diversify into related areas and products.

2000-onwards, and Into the Future

In 2003 we launched our stainless steel range, diversifying from our base in timber playground equipment and expanding our expertise. Then, in 2005, our playground inspectors achieved a position on the RPII – Register of Play Inspectors International, recognising the excellence and rigour of their work.

In 2010, we completed Wallace Park in Lisburn, Northern Ireland, which at the time was the largest play area in Europe. A flagship playground in every sense of the word, it was indicative of the growth of the company and the benefit of our experience. 

In 2014 we were chosen to participate in the UK Trade & Investment’s ‘Exporting is GREAT’ national campaign, which featured in The Financial Times and The Spectator, and aimed to showcase the quality of British goods to other nations.

Making Smiles Around the World

These days Playdale is a global business, with clients around the world, all from the same plot of land that the Croasdales worked back in the 1800s. With a new website and an ever-expanding range of products, and a lengthy client list, Playdale continues to build on its core values of excellence, inclusivity, and making smiles wherever we go.

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