Playground built in a day

From The Chronicle (Adelaide), Saturday 24 August 1918




“Port Pirie last week provided one of the most striking examples in the world of the power of parental love. A hint was given in these columns that Saturday, August 17, was to be a day of great achievement in the northern seaport town, but people could have no conception of the full meaning in the announcement that 2,000 men were to make a playground, for the children of that big and prosperous community.

Two thousand men gave their time and skill and energy without thought of personal reward beyond the satisfaction they got from a kindly act gladly done for those they loved best. They did it for the children.

What a bright spot it is in the dull pall of war that hangs over civilisation! What a beautiful augury for the future of the race!

The more one looks into the case the more inspiring is the lesson it teaches. These hard-working men took fire when someone conceived the idea of making a playground for their little ones, and showed how it could be done if there were willing hands to do it. It meant hard work and forfeited leisure, but there was no hesitation in these fine fellows. No trouble was too great, no work too arduous, for it was for the children.”

Playground construction day 17 August 1918

21. 1918 Playground construction day copyThe frames for the swings are in position

Source: National Trust of Port Pirie Collection


From The Chronicle (Adelaide), Saturday 24 August 1918

“In one day a great central pavilion, residential quarters for a caretaker, an octagonal refreshment kiosk, and six handsome shelter sheds were to be erected. An outside fence and many dividing trellises were to be put up, and the grounds laid out in sections for elder boys and girls, younger boys and girls, and infants. Gardens, trees, and lawns were to be planted, and a score and a half of swings and a couple of dozen seesaws provided along with other things too numerous to mention.”


22. 1918 playground 3 copy 2The gardens are laid out and the main gates built

Source: National Trust of Port Pirie Collection

From The Chronicle (Adelaide), Saturday 24 August 1918

“A more cheerful throng could not be imagined. The ground seemed packed with men, yet no one was out of work and no one in anybody else’s way.”

23. 1918 Playground construction day copySource: Nyrstar Port Pirie Collection


24. 1918 Playground construction team copySource: National Trust of Port Pirie Collection

From The Chronicle (Adelaide), Saturday 24 August 1918

“By lunchtime, the roofing of all the buildings was going on apace, and there were signs of order in various parts of the big ground. The pace was accelerated as the day wore on. A feature of the undertaking was the excellent workmanship, the quality of the material, and the care for detail.”

25. 1918 playground 2 copyFeeding 2,000 workers was a big task. The menu for the day was ‘huge cauldrons of saveloys steamed over coal fires, huge pyramids of sandwiches, a hundred weight of cake, and hundreds of gallons of tea’

Source: National Trust of Port Pirie Collection


26. 1918 Playground pavillion copyPlayground pavilion

Source: National Trust of Port Pirie Collection


From The Chronicle (Adelaide), Saturday 24 August 1918

“All the buildings are planned like Greek temples and are exceptionally handsome. The designs harmonised delightfully with the surroundings.”


Playground opening and dedication day 18 August 1918

27. 1918 Playground opening day copyAbout 6,000 people attended the opening ceremony and handover of the children’s playground to the council.

Source: National Trust of Port Pirie Collection


From The Observer (Adelaide), 24 August 1918

“In accepting the ground on be half of the citizens the Mayor (Mr Forgan) said, it afforded him pleasurable pride. By its use they must strive to make drab lives happy, and the happy still more happy. Without Mr Mussen’s delightful optimism such a vast undertaking would have been impossible, and he hoped that the children would become seized of some of that delightful virtue. He asked them to look after the grounds. He thanked Mr Mussen on behalf of the citizens of Port Pirie, and hoped the public would show its appreciation of what had been done by continuing the work.”


28. 1918 thank you copyChildren forming the words, “THANK YOU”, at the playground opposite the Port Pirie West Primary School.

Source: National Trust of Port Pirie Collection


From The Observer (Adelaide), 24 August 1918

“The children were then arranged so as to form the words “Thank You,” and they sang a little melody conveying the same sentiments. The children also sang ‘Onward, Christian soldiers,” and the proceedings closed with the benediction. The Excelsior Band played several airs, and advantage was taken of the permission to dismiss, by the children making a bee line for the newly-installed apparatus and equipment.”


29. 1918 Playground plaque BHAS makers copyB.H.A.S. workers with playground dedication plaque

Messrs Charlie Brooks, Jim Wamsley and J. C. Kretschmer, Foreman, in the pattern makers’ shop at the smelter with the original pattern of the plaque.

Source: National Trust of Port Pirie Collection


Do you know anything about the playground built in a day at Port Pirie?

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