Playback is a Heritage Lottery funded project, exploring and recording the rich history of play in Nottingham. 


Nottingham has a vast history of play projects, adventure playgrounds and “playin’ out”. The project has looked at how previous generations played, acknowledging and recording the way play culture has changed over time. Looking into the history and hearing the personal memories of children now grown is a brilliant way to explore games from bygone eras and relive cherished memories of the past.  


We are proud to showcase a selection of recorded ‘oral histories’ as part of our virtual exhibition, so these stories are available for future generations. The oral histories include a range of interviews and tales retold, from Nottingham residents and local Playworkers about how play has been an important part of their lives. 


Playback started back in 2018 as a PlayWorks project, when we worked with local children from Sneinton C of E Primary School and Huntingdon Academy. The children visited The Museum of Childhood at Sudbury Hall & enjoyed play sessions at St Anns Community Orchard where they cooked on fires and built dens. During play sessions at the school's children swapped their tablets and electronic devices and played traditional games such as skipping, marbles, hopscotch, whip & top and more. We hosted ‘reminiscence days’ where people came together to share memories, explore games from their childhood, sharing them with their children and grandchildren and relived their memories of the past. 


Playworks sadly closed in 2019, which added a whole new unexpected dimension to the project. We now have a vital role in remembering the essential role that Playworks and the Nottingham Play Forum played in developing play services and opportunities in Nottingham.  We are hopeful that this fantastic work can be remembered as a part of this project for years to come.  


The Toy Library picked up the Playback project, to ensure this work would not be lost. However, the pandemic soon arrived, and plans needed to be changed again. This project has now evolved, from its original vison of a community exhibition to a web-based project. We have endeavoured to keep true to the original aims - showcasing the memories, photos, and play experiences of the past and exploring and celebrating the rich history of Play in Nottingham. Although this has meant less opportunity for ‘real life’ conversations and experiences, we hope that this project will reach many more people, from Nottingham and beyond, and continue to develop as time goes by. 

Whilst we are not currently able to meet and play together, we would still like to achieve what we set out to do; to explore and share our memories of play. We would love to hear your own play memories, what games you enjoyed, the differences you have noticed between the generations and what play has meant to you through the years. Please use our Facebook page @thetoylibrary

to share your memories with us and feel free to send in any photos!  


As we have uncovered the history of play in Nottingham, we have mapped out past and present places to play; explore our google map to find local spots to play in Nottingham today and where children might have played in the past.  



Please Note: 


 All historical information included on this site is believed to be accurate according to our research and records.  If, however you notice any mistakes or omissions or have any information that would be useful for this project, please contact us at the Toy Library. 


We have included a wide range of photos from the Nottingham Play Forum archive and other sources. Most are uncredited as we do not have the original photographer information. If you have further information to contribute we’d be grateful to hear from you. If you have reason for requesting a photo to be removed please get in touch.