The iconic galleon play equipment at Grays Beach Riverside Park is set to be replaced by Thurrock Council in the coming months.
The galleon play equipment, which when installed was one of the largest play ships in Europe, was prioritised for renovation because it is more than 20 years-old. The council and Lightship Café, who currently manage the site, have been exploring exciting plans for its maritime-themed replacement, but have brought forward plans to remove the galleon due to the structure's deterioration during the government’s coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown.
The play area where the galleon is located will be taped-off and signs put in place to keep visitors safe and away from the equipment during its removal. This will be undertaken in 2 stages, on Friday 3 July and from Thursday 9 July to Friday 10 July.
Children will be able to use other play equipment within Grays Beach Riverside Park and in other parks from Saturday 4 July, when government guidance changes and restrictions are lifted on outdoor gyms and playgrounds that meet coronavirus (COVID-19) guidelines.
Cllr Aaron Watkins, Cabinet member for environment, sports and leisure, said: "The galleon play ship was a treasured and much-loved addition to Grays Beach Riverside Park, which has attracted visitors from across London and Essex.
"I'm pleased that we are working with the Lightship Café to replace the galleon as it has played a key role in our residents’ lives over the past 20 years. The new equipment will hopefully also be enjoyed by future generations for years to come.
"Our children should be able to get the most out of their parks and we will continue to review play equipment so that playgrounds in Thurrock are kept modern and are fit-for-purpose."
Geoff Stringfellow, a director of the Lightship Café, said "The galleon has always been an iconic and majestic play item which at the time of installation 20 years ago was top of the range. Over its lifetime the weather and volume of users have unfortunately not been kind to the wear and tear of the galleon. It will be a sad day when the galleon goes but in conjunction with the council we hope to replace it with something equally iconic and with more play value for the young users."
For more information on playgrounds and outdoor gyms in Thurrock, go to thurrock.gov.uk/play-sites