In 1840, a stone was unearthed during the building of St Mark’s Church in Horsham, 40 miles south of London. Local Quaker and archaeologist, George Bax Holmes, identified the discovery as the fossilised bones of a dinosaur.
Now, some 175 years on, a brand new theme park has opened in Horsham. At its core, is the actual fossil from that plant eating dinosaur, known as the Great Iguanodon…
'Dinosaur Island' is a brand new adventure play area in Southwater Country Park. The previously run-down recreation space now features an array of fantastic play equipment, special effects such as an active volcano, red hot lava flows, a tar quagmire, a dinosaur swamp and a prehistoric jungle. It is a delightful themed playspace that commemorates a past age. It is sure to keep children entertained for many years in the future.
Paul Redden, eibe’s managing director, believes the choice of equipment was critical in terms of appealing to a diversification of ages:
“Toddlers through to teenagers can use the park. For the older kids, there’s the zip wire across lizard infested ditches and a really exciting aerial walkway along sheer slopes to look out over the Country Park lake. The small ones will love crossing the dinosaur bones and deadly swampland. Even the parents will enjoy swinging through the jungle and climbing the volcano!”
The important specification of products stemmed from consultations with local schools during the tender process once the shortlist had been decided. The key stakeholders in the Eastern Shires Procurement Organisation (ESPO) tender then deliberated, and taking on board the feedback from the children, opted for eibe’s inventive proposal. It was our uniqueness of products that stole the show, mixed with empathy in mirroring the council’s own mission to regenerate the area and theme it in a natural way, thus creating a destination park that would ultimately entertain and educate. The initial concept was a 3D Masterpiece created by design director David Hibberd and his team.
So began the detailed design stage. Many tweaks and adjustments were made to the above first draft.
“We worked in harmony with various stakeholders and partners, explains Hibberd, "We liaised with Deborah Mallard, who specified the signage and its designers Lucid Design, taking into account the entrances, exits, contours and landscaping of the park,” says Hibberd, “Being mindful of the standards of foundations needed for our high duty equipment was also a design imperative, as we wanted to adhere to the original plans of landscape architect, Arlene McIntosh. Several visits were necessary to plot the slopes, paths and natural swales. Back in the studio, we adapted our designs accordingly. Making a detailed video presentation for the client was a gem of an idea and brought the whole concept to life.”
Installation work began in earnest around Christmas and our hardy project team met with typically seasonal disruption…
“At one stage, out installers were knee deep in clay,” comments project manager Ben Neaves, “The inclement weather caused some inevitable delays, but the team were determined to complete the project on time, so worked through extraordinary conditions to fulfil the promise.”
Anna Chapman was relieved and grateful for eibe’s dedication to the cause and paid special tribute to our suppliers RJ Playground Services:
“The installation team’s service was really good. Indeed, so was the helpful contact from the entire eibe team.”
Spring arrived and Steve Delahunt, Senior Park Ranger was thrilled to see the new park unveiled. The playspace was now ready for excited arrivals. All that remained to be finalised was the surfacing and grass matting. Featuring a myriad of themed wooden robinia equipment, all manufactured from FSC timber, Dinosaur Island hosts a paradiso predator’s trap, dinosaur slides, balancing trails, nest swing, toddler and tyre swings, a rope tree walk, stand-up seesaw, a sand construction unit, an obstacle course and the all-important dinosaur sandpit featuring that replica iguanodon fossil.
Completed in May, we now await the official opening of the park on July 11th, a day that will include fireworks, a boat race, parades and eibe goodie bags… but hopefully no real dinosaurs!
Paul Redden sums up the venture:
“It’s always more rewarding when a scheme has some sort of historical significance for us. While we have never previously gone this far back in time, we have, in the last couple of years, undertaken themed projects relating to the War, Titanic, Fort Royal and the Battle of Hastings. Dinosaur Island will deliver fun and education to children of all ages for many years to come.
“Partnering with Horsham District Council has been a rewarding journey. Our Green World Ambassador status was certainly a core credential in us winning the tender; the client wanted someone with expertise in natural environments. Our sustainability ethos is at the core of our own Corporate Social Responsibility pledge; all of the wooden equipment used at Southwater Country Park is, as ever, FSC certified; we always consider matters of sustainability in relation to the production and processing of materials – the amount of timber harvested never exceeds the amount of timber re-grown.
“As a business, we will continue to focus on the area of recycling management; the crucial issue of sustainable forestry is strictly supervised. As we strive for continuous improvement, we conduct regular audits, use environmentally friendly design and recyclable packaging for our products, all of which falls in line with the RESY regulations. Moving forward, we hope to work with more organisations that share our vision. It has been uplifting to watch Dinosaur Island come to fruition, a project which absolutely embraces all that is important about the past, present and future of our world.”