Local London: Lordship Rec model traffic area

As we are currently going through potty training hell (hopefully for the last time!), we’ve had to temper our ambitions around family days out. Whilst relaxing in the garden is great when the sun is out, after a while I still hanker for some time out of the house. So we’ve been focusing on low-key places we can escape to just for a bit, as local as possible.

Family travel blogs are often about going somewhere else, be it the foreign holidays or the big days out. I for one am definitely guilty of neglecting what’s on my doorstep. But its these little, local things – that great playground, the really good coffee shop, or the small city farm – which although at first seem insignificant by themselves, altogether add up to make the very texture of our lives.

So in this Local London series, I’ll be highlighting some of the local gems hidden in our city. These places may not make the guidebooks, but they may become a fixture of your family life.

First up: the Model Traffic Area at Lordship Rec, north London.

Built in 1938, the Model Traffic Area was based on a pioneering idea – to create a miniature road system to teach children how to use the roads safely. In its heyday you could even hire miniature cars to drive around – Legoland Driving School, eat your heart out!

Today there aren’t any cars, but the unique Model Traffic Area has been restored, with new road markings, cycle lanes, pavements and modern traffic signs – all signposted with this large vintage-cycle inspired metal sculpture.

With three quarters of a mile of smooth roads, its the perfect space for your children to practice the skills needed to cycle or scoot safely and confidently.

From dealing with jaywalkers – the petite pavements are rather unpopular – to negotiating with other road users, there is lots of opportunity for children to improve their riding.

The slight incline in the roads means Museum Boy had to practice using his brakes, and he found turning corners tricky. And judging by this picture at least, he clearly has no idea what a roundabout is for!

I just love the beautiful old trees which hug the roads, they really make it feel like a special place with history.

Museum Girl took her balance bike, but refused to pause for photographs, and preferred the play equipment instead.

With a lake, playground, cafe and toilets right next door, it’s an easy place to spend for a family to spend a few hours, mixing fun with hands-on learning. Lordship Rec is a huge public park, with hectares of space – we’ve still to visit its restored Shell Theatre or BMX dirt track.

And if you don’t have, or don’t bring your own bike, you can hire bikes from Rockstone Bike Hut, at the Lordship Lane main entrance to the park. They also offer advice on maintaining your own bikes.

Recommended age: 2-8.

Have you been to Lordship Rec Model Traffic Area? Or do you have any local gems you’re bursting to share? Comment below, or get in touch via social media, I’d love to hear from you.


Written by Vyki Sparkes AKA Museum Mum. Award-winning culture blogger, content creator, museum curator, podcaster, and mum to three. I’ve worked in museums for 18+ years, have a masters in museum studies, but more importantly, have been letting my kids loose in museums for decades. This blog shares all my hard-earned knowledge and experience.

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  1. May 17, 2018 / 3:50 pm

    Never heard of this place! Maybe because for all the years I lived in London mostly it was south of the river. Sounds like a brilliant local resource and I love the concept behind it.

    • museummum
      May 17, 2018 / 4:05 pm

      I was so surprised when I searched online and couldn’t really find much written about it! It’s definitely a local gem. I’m sure there’s loads of amazing places in South London I’ve never heard of, despite living here for over 20 years!

  2. Charlie pyrkos
    July 30, 2021 / 3:33 pm

    Went here over 50years ago really helped me understand road safety. Amazed it’s still there

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