The Broadmarsh Centre Frog and Caterpillar are fondly remembered by many Nottingham people of a certain age. 

Named ‘Play Sculptures’ by their creator, sculptor Peter Hand, they were part of a series of commissions he received from shopping centres across the country in the 1970’s to create playable sculptures. Whilst shopping centres from London to Middlesbrough also featured his wonderful designs, Nottingham appeared to have the most with 5 animals in total.

The Broadmarsh Centre featured a frog, caterpillar and horse. They were made from West African hardwood and they were designed specifically for children to play on. I recall climbing up into the mouth of the frog and sliding down through the inside and out of it’s rear! A thrilling experience for a pre school aged child indeed! All three were installed on the centres opening in 1975 and remained until 1997 when their deteriorating condition meant they were removed due to health and safety concerns.

The sculptures popularity with children and families meant Peter was soon asked to provide similar sculptures for the Victoria Centre. For these he designed a snake and cricket, fashioned from tubular steel dipped in nylon. Several years later he made a wooden elephant for the children’s ward at The Queens Medical Centre. This led to interest from television and Peter featured on  BBC’s Pebble Mill at One, alongside the Elephant and Frog.

Children playing on the wooden caterpillar in the old Broadmarsh Shopping Centre, with the horse in the background.

You can find further pictures of the frog and the Victoria centre Play Sculptures by Peter Hand on our Pinterest Pages

The Broadmarsh sculptures were subsequently donated to local schools. We are aware that the caterpillar found a new home on the playing field of Mellors Primary School in Radford until it was removed as part of renovations to the school only a few years ago. We’re not sure what became of the frog or the horse, or indeed the cricket, snake or elephant following their retirement. If anyone knows please get in touch with us at the Toy Library.

Perhaps you slid down the Frog on your way to see the monkey in the window of Gordon Scotts the shoe shop?  Or clambered across the caterpillar on a trip to Wimpy many moons ago? we’d love to hear any memories you have of playing in Nottingham as a child. 


Find out more: