Bedgebury National Pinetum & Forest, Kent

The Trading Post 

The existing Shipwreck is the introductory piece equipment on the play trail and we wanted to create a new twist on it’s theme to reinvigorate the play offering whilst at the same time improving accessibility for less able visitors.


We have reimagined this whole space as a deconstructed cargo ship being loaded for voyage back to England loaded with plant specimens and we have designed a complementary piece for younger children 0 – 6 to enjoy.

As many of the trees at Bedgebury comes from seed collected from China and SE Asia we have selected this area to be the inspiration for our Trading Post. An existing centre piece of the space is a silver birch which is also native to SE Asia. The existing sand makes an ideal play and safety surface allowing the budget to be fully allocated to the design and installation of the play equipment.

Famous Plant Hunter George Forrest made many journeys to this region of the world to discover new tree and shrub specimens and is responsible for the introduction of camellias and rhododendrons to the UK. His plant specimens would have been transported by mule or canoe back to the coast where they were carefully packed and boxed to be shipped back to Liverpool.

Our play equipment depicts the scene at a Trading Post from which George Forrest’s plant specimens were transported to the docks.

The SE Asian inspired space is set on stilts with board walk and plank walkways connecting the space to link all the features together in a route. At the end of the Jetty sits a Stilt House. We suggest that the sand is also the sea to be avoided by balancing and jumping between board walks and planks.

There are climbable plant boxes, labelled and stacked ready to be loaded onto a larger boat. Two of the boxes are designed to be modelled on Warden Cases which was a sealed protective container for plants to protect them from the long sea journeys. Wardian Cases enabled the plants collected  by plant hunters to survive and thrive.  On the boxes we have written suggested contents and destinations.

The jetty is wide with  bannisters to enable good hand hold access for less able bodied visitors. A gentle ramp leads up allowing wheeled and level access to a wider pontoon to which the canoes are tied.

Three canoes made from hollowed pieces of oak are tied up to the jetty connected by balance ropes and planks.

Tall stilt pole stepping logs link the existing boulders stones to create a route to the back of the Stilt House. The Stilt House is a sheltered raised space to observe the rest of the playground from and with multiple routes in and our perfect for role play. It is inspired by Cambodian stilt house architecture and is built on a frame of round robinia poles with a tin roof.



“ The Trading Post recently installed at Bedgebury has proved very popular with our visitors we have had nothing but positive feedback, it has enhanced the ship wreck area no end, the staff here couldn’t be happier with it and look forward to working with Green Play again in the future “

Dan Jennings Bedgebury Recreation Manager Forestry England