Web Page No 2364
22nd April 2017
Top Picture: The Witches HatSecond Picture: The Seesaw
Third Picture: A typical drinking fountain.
In the Rec.
Do you remember those giant toys that were placed in the municipal parks or playgrounds? The enormously long see- saws which could sometimes accommodate twelve children or more on each side, there was always someone who fell off and the fear of some that they would get caught underneath.
One of the other popular rides was the horse rocker that moved backwards and forwards as the riders sat astride it. These rides sometimes had a horse’s head on one end and a tail on the other plus two legs both sides. Again, this was a ride for multiple numbers of riders.
If you were on your own or with a friend you would have probably made your way to the swings and played higher and higher in an attempt to get the seat above the horizontal plane. This was often done whilst standing on the seat making the whole thing more exciting. There were always swings of varying sizes from those designed for older children right down to the safety seated ones for the toddlers.
There were often hoops and loops concreted into the ground so that children could swing on them and perform elementary forms of gymnastics. Sometimes there would be a climbing frame set into the grass but all these pieces of equipment always looked as though they had been made of scaffold poles and their connecting pieces.
Sand pits, football pitches with goal posts (no nets just posts) and acres of grassland always seemed to be the hallmark of these fields and if you were lucky there was always an area of rough grass that had not been cut to play in. There was a thing called either the Maypole or The Octopus which consisted of ropes dangling down from the top of a pole and onto which the children clung on and swung. Oh must not forget the slides! Often there was a sand pit for the little ones to play in but seeing some of the things that were deposited in these pits by the local dogs etc, it was not the best environment for many children to play in!
There always seemed to be a drinking fountain in these parks most of which were self-operated by turning a knob shaped vaguely like a lemon squeezer and then bending down to drink the water that gushed from the spout below. Occasionally there would be a metal mug chained to the pump, all in all one of the most unhygienic things I have seen for years and because during the summer months (it was usually either turned off or frozen solid in the winter) it was in constant use and the drain below could not cope so the drinking fountain always seemed to be in the middle of a muddy puddle!
I have left the two scariest rides until last. Firstly, there was the hand propelled roundabout. This was great fun until some children decided to see how fast it would go and try to spin it around at a fearful speed. They may have found it most gratifying but I know that there were hundreds of children who were terrified if this happened when they were on it. But that’s children for you!
The last piece of equipment I intend to talk about caused many injuries, cuts, sprains and even broken bones, so much so that in the mid-1960s most of them were dismantled and taken away. This piece of equipment was called ‘the Witches Hat’ a conical devise which rotated round and round as well as backwards and forwards across its axis. It was always obvious where this piece of equipment was in a playing field from the noise that the riders would make, shouts, screams, yells and sometimes cries of agony as some poor child got caught inside the hat itself. As I said many councils condemned them and most had been removed by the end of the 1960’s.
Soon health and safety took over and initially soft landing areas installed around the equipment and then investigations into some of the play equipment declared them a health hazard and many of them were removed. Usually the first to go was the ‘Witches Hat’.
Well we all survived these terrible pieces of equipment and are still here to tell the tale.
Keep in touch
On this day 22nd April 1960-1965
On 22/04/1960 the number one single was My Old Man's a Dustman - Lonnie Donegan and the number one album was South Pacific Soundtrack. The top rated TV show was Armchair Theatre (ABC) and the box office smash was Psycho. A pound of today's money was worth £13.68 and Burnley were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.
On 22/04/1961 the number one single was Wooden Heart - Elvis Presley and the number one album was GI Blues - Elvis Presley. The top rated TV show was Bootsie & Snudge (Granada) and the box office smash was One Hundred and One Dalmations. A pound of today's money was worth £13.25 and Tottenham Hotspur were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.
On 22/04/1962 the number one single was Wonderful Land - The Shadows and the number one album was Blue Hawaii - Elvis Presley. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was Lawrence of Arabia. A pound of today's money was worth £12.89 and Ipswich Town were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.
On 22/04/1963 the number one single was How Do You Do It? - Gerry & the Pacemakers and the number one album was Summer Holiday - Cliff Richard & the Shadows. The top rated TV show was Labour Party Political Broadcast (all channels) and the box office smash was The Great Escape. A pound of today's money was worth £12.64 and Everton were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.
On 22/04/1965 the number one single was Ticket to Ride - The Beatles and the number one album was Freewheelin' Bob Dylan. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was The Sound of Music. A pound of today's money was worth £11.69 and Manchester United were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.