CHILDREN have celebrated the beginning of a long-awaited Narnia-themed £115,000 play park refurbishment.

Youngsters from schools around Headington gathered to watch as work began to revamp the Bury Knowle Park, in London Road, Headington, Oxford.

The work, believed to be one of Oxford City Council’s biggest refurbishments of a play area this year, follows 18 months of consultation with children and park support group Friends of Bury Knowle Park.

It is part of the £2.5m play area refurbishment programme taking place across the city.

The new park will be based near a sculptured seat area which was created from a dead cedar tree, by local sculptor Matt Cave.

He took his inspiration for the seat from characters in the books of Oxford authors JRR Tolkien and CS Lewis, and the new play area will continue the Lewis theme with Narnia character ‘springers’ and a timber wardrobe entrance greeting visitors to the play area.

The council’s ground maintenance staff will be carrying out the installation which will take about 14 weeks to complete.

Mark Lygo, executive member for sport, play and school liaison, said the revamp was possible in part thanks to £47,000 of funding from Oxfordshire County Council.

He said: “We have done extensive consultation with the community and the Friends of the Park group have shown great support for the proposed design as well as being actively involved in the design process.”

He added the cash from the county would be used to provide extra play facilities for youngsters aged between eight and 13 years.

Mr Lygo said: “These additional facilities will be positioned outside the existing play area and will include a zip wire, a giant Maypole swing unit, a giant double swing unit, a large spinning bowl and a stone climbing wall set into a canyon.”

All of the existing play equipment will be replaced with new natural timber play equipment, and new facilities will also include a timber multi-play castle, toddler swings, a basket swing, toddler springers, a slide and a climbing net.

The refurbishment will also see a large new sandpit added to the existing play area with a slide and climbing wall.

Children and teachers at St Andrews School, Windmill Primary School and Cheney School, in Headington, were all involved in deciding what the revamp should look like.