RSPB Newport Replica Lighthouse and Play Area

Situated on a wetlands reserve on the mouth of the river Usk, Newport Wetlands Centre is a wild, natural area that lies not far from the bustling town of Newport.

The Brief: To Marry Wildlife with Industry

A new industrial themed playground was to be built on former marshland. The industrial theme was chosen to highlight the compatibility of wildlife with the nearby industrial town of Newport. It is a symbiotic relationship we are witnessing increasingly as industrial wasteland is reclaimed and used to enhance wildlife.

At the heart of the new playground, a lighthouse themed play area would create the focal point. It would mimic the East Usk lighthouse which stands just a few hundred metres away on the marshes on the other side of the sea wall. The playground needed to be inspiring and actively challenging for all the children who used it.

Overcoming Barriers: Harsh Coastal Conditions

The wetlands centre site is under constant attack from a host of harsh elements including wind, rain and a salty, hostile climate. It was important to ensure the outdoor play equipment would be durable enough to withstand such cruel conditions. Five years on from installation we are pleased to report that the playground is 99% pristine with only minor blemishes that are easily maintained.

The themed playground project was completed in two phases. The first phase comprised of a lighthouse centrepiece, an aerial runway, swings, a cantilever basket swing, fencing, and safety fall surfaces. The container ship, springies, and channel buoys followed. It’s never a bad thing to create a play area in stages as it gives greater flexibility and an opportunity to react to changing requirements which may only become evident as the play area is put to use.


Materials & Imagination: True to Life and Built to Last



Standing majestically in the grounds of the playground area is the hand crafted bespoke lighthouse – a miniature replica of the famous landmark, the east Usk lighthouse, that stands nearby. It was constructed using marine ply and hardwood with a fibre glass roof and white powder coated railings, all of which were thoughtfully selected with the harsh environmental conditions in mind.

With internal ladders, an extensive first floor deck and entry at both ground and first floor level, the lighthouse is wonderfully true to life and no child can fail to be amazed as they scramble through the doorways and clamber upstairs to look out to sea.

With themed playgrounds like these, it is a combination of subtle, imaginative touches and the creativity and inspiration that goes into the overriding design theme that make them so very special. Lighthouses seem to be something of a speciality for us as we have constructed several – all different, all unique, and all based upon existing lighthouses.

Accessories and Apparatus: Achieving the Theme

To achieve the blended theme of industry and nature, much of the play ground equipment was constructed using heavy duty materials combined with environmental and ecological design highlights.

An incredibly realistic cut-out, painted seagull sits atop a giant metal aerial runway reminiscent of a dockyard crane, catching the eye of onlookers who no doubt have to look twice to check whether it is real. A giant swan seat rests alongside the metal play container ship, providing an enthralling resting place where thoughts can be gathered.

With its angled climb ladder which proves harder than it looks to use, to an extensive climb wall, to a teetering climb net; energetic, inquisitive children are in their element exploring the additional features of this unique play lighthouse. A slide and slide pole also prove exhilarating as children race to the ground from the upper level.

Other equipment built for this extensive themed playground includes a fascinatingly detailed play container ship incorporating a captain’s bridge, climb net, and swing bars. It fits in beautifully with the coastal and industrial theme and inspires imaginative play. Kids can’t fail to love or be exhilarated by the aerial runway which proves a heady mix of excitement and bracing adventure.

The play equipment that made up the Wetlands Centre themed play ground and complemented the lighthouse encompassed the following:

  • Container ship with climb wall, two climb nets, a slide, swing bars, entrances, and exits
  • Heavy metal swings
  • Oak see saw
  • Giant swan seat
  • Oak cantilever basket swing
  • Kick-around buoys in a channel
  • Metal structure aerial runway
  • Hand painted bird and seal springies
  • Zip line
  • Bird sign


Dipping Platforms and Boardwalks at RSPB Newport


Since the original play area installation, we have now installed several further items of timber landscaping, including decking and pond dipping platforms, as part of our sister company, The Wild Deck Company. You can find out more about our pond dipping platforms and boardwalks so that they can be incorporated into any play area project – this is particularly useful in wetland areas.


Project Summary: Nature and Industry in Harmony


Newport RSPB Wetlands Centre is delighted to have a new, unique, outdoor themed play area which not only thrills the many visiting children, but reflects how nature can live harmoniously alongside industry.


Your Themed Play Area


As with all our projects, we were grateful to have the chance to create this and entertain many children for years to come. Please take a look at our other outdoor play areas and replica landmarks for more inspiration, and don’t hesitate to get in contact with us if you have a project in mind – we are more than happy to walk you through the design process.

For pricing information, please refer to our pricing page or get in contact with us to make an enquiry and discuss a potential project. And don’t forget to check out The Wild Deck Company to see some of our other timber creations – we specialise in producing pond dipping platforms, bird hides, and boardwalks.