What we do

Through creativity, innovation and conviction, Sutcliffe Play tries to contribute to the enjoyment and experience of children through play. We design to encourage creativity, leaving as much as possible to childrens' imaginations. Here at Sutcliffe Play, we build in an element of risk, to ensure play spaces are stimulating and challenging. We believe passionately in ‘inclusive play’, and we do this in an invisible way, allowing all children to discover and extend their own boundaries while playing side-by-side. In addition we believe that there are many other benefits that play brings to children and adults – physical health, learning, development, social cohesion, even regeneration within communities. But above all when designing, we focus on play for play's sake, as that simple, essential part of childhood.

British Manufacturer

A British manufacturer, very proud of the fact that all of our products are made in our purpose built factory in the heart of Yorkshire, England. It is particularly pleasing that there is a resurgence in celebrating the strength and quality of niche British manufacturing – qualities that we have been perfecting for over 100 years. Our 65 strong team is highly skilled in the design and build of quality play equipment and spaces, and because we all own the company, every single one of us can lay claim to the title of quality control officer.

With a local, British manufacturer, comes real benefits:

Lead times are shorter as we don’t need to factor in delivery from Eastern Europe or the Far East.

• We use only British steel sourced from a family-run business not far from our Factory.

• With our own flexible team on hand we are ideally placed to satisfy sudden surges in demand.

• Spare requests can be handled swiftly, we aim to get them to you in a day or two.

• We can refurbish a playground as well as start from scratch –  giving many customers with limited budgets a more cost effective solution.

• If appropriate, you can also bring a team of people to the factory to see your equipment being made.

• Bespoke Solutions – Last but not least, having our designers and factory on hand means we can deliver truly bespoke solutions for our customers, many of whom have come to us hoping we could adapt one of our designs, and left with the perfect answer to their unique set of challenges. We can literally take a quick sketch of your vision and turn it into reality.  See Case Study of a bespoke project – a play forest with solar lighting.


The origins of Sutcliffe Play trace back over 100 years to Sutcliffe Engineering. As with many industry innovators and pioneers, the original family business has continued to adapt to changing market conditions throughout its history.

Sutcliffe Play started life in the mining industry and, in particular, with the commitment of Richard Sutcliffe, the great grandfather of current Chairman Robin Sutcliffe, to improving the safety, welfare and efficiency of miners.

Much has changed in the 100 years since then, but not Sutcliffe Play’s absolute focus on innovation, respect for employees, quality and product knowledge.

Over the last century the Sutcliffe name and business focus has been linked to mining, through the manufacture of coal cutters, belt conveyors and impact idlers; with the automotive industry through the production of rubber to metal bondings and with sports through the supply of gym and cricket mats.

The modern day Sutcliffe Play dates back to the early 1980s, when the now Chairman – Robin Sutcliffe, joined the business and the focus was on the development and production of rubber swing seats and safety surfacing. By the mid 1990s Sutcliffe Play was established as a market leader in the design and production of swing seats, not just in the UK but across the world.

When the company’s domination of the play seat market was threatened by the expiry of key patents, substantial investment was made in the design and production of play equipment ranges – traditional items such as swings, roundabouts, seesaws, multiplay units etc, as well as more sports related products, notably muga’s (multi-use games areas).

Considerable investment has been made in product innovation over the last 20 years.

Sutcliffe Play was the first company to develop a range of play equipment for teenagers (Teenzone), a new philosophy and product ranges for “Inclusive play”, and latterly the first to bring in a “loose parts” play system for early years and schools – namely “Snug”.

In addition, in the last 10 years, the company has developed a department dedicated to the design not just of equipment, but also play spaces, headed up by a qualified Landscape Architect. Other services have followed on, for example installation, inspection and maintenance through a dedicated Contracts Department.

Today, the company ranks as one of the world’s leading names in children’s play equipment with 10% of the UK market and 25% of the export market from the UK. Play equipment is now supplied into local authorities, schools and early years settings, leisure and housing markets and communities worldwide.

2010 saw a significant landmark, when Robin Sutcliffe sold the business to the employees, making Sutcliffe Play the John Lewis of the play industry.

Product & Play Values

Children will play in almost any environment and the benefits have long been recognised. Play is a positive evolutionary process and not just a way for children to learn, develop and socialise, it is also there as a fun and essential part of childhood.

Play affects so much of what we do as children and adults, it can significantly improve health, learning and social skills. The impact of play is impossible to measure but to help us understand the different forms, we have simplified them into five basic groups and we design to these five forms of play when designing our products.

Five forms of play:

Physical and Locomotor…
activities to encourage fundamental movement skills such as crawling, chasing, climbing, jumping, swinging and balance. Movement in any, or every direction for its own sake.

Role play and imaginative…
features that facilitate opportunities for children to enact out various experiences they may have had or something that is of some interest to them. Experimenting with decision making on how to behave and practising their social skills.

key areas where play can encourage social interaction, the building block of society.

where children can use their imagination to try out new experiences and test boundaries, satisfies the need for self-expression as well as developing manual skills.

refers to the exploration and manipulation of an object through the senses to explore and discover the texture and function of things around them.

To learn more about our extensive product ranges go to our main website at Sutcliffe Play where you are sure to find the ideal playground equipment for your play space.