Soft play in Charlton and beyond for kids of all ages

Sutcliffe Park Sport Centre, SE9

Need a break from looking after a demanding youngster? The Charlton Champion‘s LARA RUFFLE COLES has been taking her son out to investigate the local soft play options.

Getting out and about with young children can be equal parts stressful and rewarding, but luckily for parents and carers wanting to sit down for five seconds, soft play was invented.

Charlton‘s options tend to be small-scale and more ‘stay and play’-oriented, but they are free to use unlike most of the larger scale soft plays detailed below.

Woolwich has Under 1 Roof, a large warehouse building, 10-15 minutes walk from General Gordon Square, with multiple areas for different ages (up to 11) including a large soft play room.

At the bottom of Kidbrooke Park Road, Sutcliffe Park Sports Centre has a multi-level soft play with plenty of space for crawling, climbing and sliding. It also has an outside playground and a cordoned-off soft play area for smaller children.

The Greenwich Centre, SE10

In Blackheath, Mycenae House has a large programme of activities (for all ages) including a regular soft play session run by Toddler Sense.

East Greenwich Pleasaunce has The Bridge, and the venue runs regular ‘stay and play’ sessions that include soft play.

Staying in east Greenwich, round the corner on Woolwich Road is The Greenwich Centre, which currently runs seven soft play sessions a week. Each session lasts an hour and a half and includes a bouncy castle, numerous toys and soft structures to climb.

In Greenwich town centre the National Maritime Museum has a free play area called Ahoy! It isn’t a soft play but it is full of different interactive activities focusing on our maritime history. The museum also has The Great Map, a large open space perfect for children to crawl and charge about. They can also play with three ships that ‘sail’ on the map’s oceans and seas.

National Maritime Museum, SE10

Just over in Deptford, next to the creek, is Big Little Fun, a smaller scale soft play with a slide and climbing area, plus a separate area for smaller children. It is also has an arts and crafts area, dressing up outfits, various toys including a play kitchen, a ball pit, plus an air chute game played with the balls.

For adventurous parents and carers happy to take the DLR to the Isle of Dogs, Mudlarks at Museum of London Docklands combines soft play, water play and river-themed fun. Each free session is 40 minutes and booking two or three sessions in a row is allowed.

Mudlarks, Museum of London Docklands, E14

And for adults needing some let off some steam, you don’t need to leave Charlton – head down to the Thames Barrier for Bunker 51, a riverside Cold War bunker with airsoft, paintball (alright, not so soft play) and laser tag.

Alternatively, if you want to go a little further afield, Ballie Ballerson in Shoreditch has two giant ball pits for you to dive into. Cocktails are also on offer so hopefully someone else can look after the children the next morning…

Please let us know in the comments below if there are other soft play locations you would like to recommend. All photos used with the consent of the parents.


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Charlton House lights up for Christmas 2018

Yesterday afternoon The Charlton Champion, Friends of Royal Greenwich Heritage Trust and local councillors were invited to Charlton House for the inaugural lighting of its Christmas tree. Afterwards, mince pies, mulled wine and a welcome break from the cold and windy weather were on offer inside.

The trust’s Helen Moon told The Charlton Champion that it has exciting plans for a larger event in 2019, so watch this space for further information in the coming year.

And keep scrolling for a video of the countdown!

Courtesy of Helen Moon, Royal Greenwich Heritage Trust


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Festive events in Charlton for Christmas 2018

The King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery passing Charlton House, December 2016
© Rob Powell

As Christmas creeps closer, it’s quite possibly time to purchase some presents for your nearest and dearest – unless they only deserve a lump of coal this year…

Here is a round-up of the festive events The Charlton Champion has details of so far, but please let us know if you’re organising something that we’ve not spotted yet. Send us a message or leave a comment below, and we’ll update this list over the coming weeks.

  • On Saturday 24 November Pound Park Nursery hosts their Winter Wonderland from 10am to 1pm, head to the school for wintry treats, a raffle and extra special guests.
  • The Corner at 96 is open for Christmas on the 7th, 8th and 9th of December, keep an eye on their Instagram for further details.
  • On Sunday 9 December at 5.30pm, St Thomas Church presents their Community Christmas sing-a-long, song sheets will be provided and there will be a retiring collection.
  • Friends of Charlton Park have a Mince Pies and Meet Up evening at 8pm on Wednesday 12 December at the Big Red Bus Club.
  • Thursday 13 December has the British Oak pub on Old Dover Road hosting an 8pm Beer and Carols night in conjunction with St John’s Church, Blackheath.
  • On Christmas Day The Old Cottage Coffee Shop in Charlton Park are running its annual Christmas lunch for the elderly and it need volunteers and donations for the day. Please get in touch in person or on Twitter.


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How was 2018’s Horn Fair at Charlton House?

Charlton House Horn Fair 2018

The Charlton Champion is grateful to LARA RUFFLE COLES for sending us her photos, videos and observations from Sunday’s Horn Fair event at Charlton House:

Even though the grey and rainy weather may have stopped some from venturing outside, this year’s Horn Fair at Charlton House was lively and entertaining – if not as bustling as 2017.

My favourite element of the day was the live music from the Royal Air Force Cadets, The Friends’ Musick and the Horn Fair Players. The music generated a very warm and inviting atmosphere, and it was wonderful to hear the music floating around the house as you moved from room to room.

The range of stalls was more arts and crafts than food, this was a bit disappointing as last year there were more food stalls including a really good quality smoked salmon stall selling sandwiches. Only chocolate, honey, coffee and Caribbean food was on offer, and The Giggly Pig Company had already packed up when I arrived at peak eating time just before 2pm. We couldn’t find Wandercrust Pizza, unfortunately; the tea rooms were open, but I would have liked to scoff down a few slices of pizza!

If you ventured outside, visitors were able to have a good nosy round the newly reopened Summer House. The main room and undercroft (also a WWII air raid shelter) could be viewed, and panels were on display detailing the recent refurbishment.

This year’s theme was the hundred year anniversary of Charlton House opening as a Voluntary Aid Detachment (VAD) hospital – which felt a little odd given the Horn Fair’s previous reputation as a bawdy and debauched affair! It might have better to focus on the upcoming Armistice centenary as a whole, and the VAD theme didn’t feel very present as you moved from room to room. The theme also seemed at odds with the commercial aspects of the event.

However, balancing the commercial and educational parts of any charitable organisation is always tricky, and is something that the Royal Greenwich Heritage Trust – only established four years ago – is still working on.

More importantly, we should all be supporting events like the Horn Fair as they allow charities to keep beautiful and historically vital buildings like Charlton House open for all of us to enjoy. Roll on 2019!

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