Southampton Swing Watch – St James’ Park, Shirley

Welcome to the first post in my Southampton Swing Watch series – what will probably turn out to be a small but waffly directory of playarea reviews and information of interest to those only in Southampton. Hurray, let’s get started!

Where: St James’ Park, Shirley SO15 5SD
St James’ Park is a small park (I’m not great at spacial awareness but it’s probably bigger than a football pitch, but smaller than a largue cricket pitch) with big entertainment value.

Website: Friends of St James’ Park

Parking: on road parking – free for 2 hours. It can get busy but I have yet to resort to practising my dormant parallel parking skills, we just sometimes have to walk a bit

Refreshments: on-site café (worth a look – great community hub)

Toilet facilities: in café

Age groups catered for: Toddler through to adults/teens plus two tennis courts

Play Facilities:
The playing areas are sort of split into three ‘zones’ –

The teens and adults are catered for away from the children’s ‘compound’ (technical term). They have concrete, metal, curvy benches, outdoor gym equipment, a climbing wall, a basketball hoop and a roundy net swing of their own.

The children’s compound is one big area but definitely zoned into two distinct parts with a zip wire and green hillocks for bikes I imagine; a dividing wooden climbing frame with two HUGE metal slides and then the more traditional playarea behind it.

One of two HUGE slides and zip wire fun!

In the playarea section, where with a toddler we spend our time, you’ll find slides, 3 types of swings, a roundabout, a small climbing frame, a little playhouse (with a steering wheel – because every house should have a steering wheel), a bouncy floor, a bouncy running thing and – somewhat randomly – a concrete river complete with a dam that may or may not become a real water feature in the summer…?

The overall effect of adventure is heightened with large stones, ‘mountain paths’, and lots of well-placed foliage such as bamboo and palm trees.

View towards cafe - check out the palm trees!
View towards cafe – check out the palm trees!


Our ‘official’ Swing Watch visit:
Sunday morning dawned dry and having publicly declared my intention to launch Southampton Swing Watch only the day before I felt I should strike while the iron was hot or while the sun was shining at least.

I underestimated the power of said shining sun and was emphatically chilly on our visit – the playground is mostly shaded by beautiful big trees, so don’t go to bask in the sun while pushing small people on swings.

We headed straight for bouncy running thing and did a few lengths:

Son running along what looks like a conveyor belt. Big and bouncy


We then enjoyed playing house/cars:



Before pretending we were (dry dock) boats:

Climbing over the 'damn'


Followed by habitual bouncy floor peering (the reason for this will become clear in a later post!):

Peering into bouncy floor


Finally we plucked up the courage to go down the tunnel slide:

Tunnel slide, showing palm trees and houses. Son waiting near top


On our way back to the car we admired the Southampton frieze on the window of the café and negotiated heavily about when the right time for ice cream is (not at that time, I won).

Toddler looking at pictures on cafe window


We got a good 30 – 40 minutes play on the equipment we could manage before my son uttered those immortal words ‘Mummy, where’s the fireman’s pole?’.

Yes my Southampton swing users – this is a great park with varied appeal, good refreshment options, interesting landscaping and a large enough accompanying green space for dogs and ball games, BUT a word of warning there is NO fireman’s pole.


21 thoughts on “Southampton Swing Watch – St James’ Park, Shirley

  1. I think these posts are a great idea, I’ve long toyed with the idea of doing a local round up.
    Sure it’s niche but information like this is invaluable if you are looking for it. 👍🏻


    1. Yes it’s certainly lovely…having a cafe and such variety does make it a whole excursion and I always used to like its surprise element – there’s so much there tucked right in the middle of Shirley x


  2. I enjoyed reading this-and I don’t even live in Southampton and have never heard of the park in question. I think it’s a great idea for a blog series! #tribe


  3. Brilliant idea Lucy for a series! I love how the park is divided up for toddlers and teenagers making it safe for different age groups. And all parks must have a cafe! Wishing you all the luck with the series. Claire X #triballove


  4. Haha, I loved this review and it does look like a fab park and I would love a park like that near to us but I also understand your son’s concerns over the lack of a fireman’s pole. Every park should have a fireman’s pole – surely!! 🙂


  5. This looks like a great park – I think my little one would love this. Great idea to separate the toddlers from teenagers, I’ve noticed in the Brighton parks that the teenagers sometimes take over and it’s a bit daunting for the younger ones. Lovely review x #triballove


  6. What no fireman’s pole?! Joking aside, great post lovely and definitely gets five stars from me for having a teen area – my 3 still love swings – never too old for swings #triballove xx


    1. Never! The teen bit is fab…I definitely would have enjoyed it as a teen – particularly the ball hoop and the swing. Adding a swing in that area is so insightful I think…almost definitely a decision by someone who can either remember their teen years or who have teens! X


  7. I can’t help but love swing watch. I consider this every time I go to a park now. You will be bitterly disappointed with my local park. It really has swings, a couple of boingy fish things, a slide and a climbing tower thing. We’re starting to venture off to other more exciting parks now! #triballove


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