If you grew up in a town and you weren’t playing outside on old bomb sites or climbing lampposts, chances are you would have been having fun in a playground on equipment without even the notion of a nod to health and safety.
Sharp metal-edged, notoriously high metal slides which burned your legs in summer, could slice your fingers to pieces and throw you off the bottom onto hard ground at breakneck speed. No safety net or barrier and you were dust if you fell from the top!
Seesaws that bounced you off onto gravel or concrete – grass was for the lucky ones.
Rusty roundabouts that could drag you along underneath as they spun.
And then there was the Witches Hat! The witch’s hat – one of Britain’s best-loved rides – disappeared from playgrounds 30 years ago over concerns it was too dangerous for children.
Swings that would go so high they could rotate over the top of the crossbar but oh such fun to jump off them, landing at a run and taking care not to face plant in the gravel.
Monkey bars and witches hats again typically concreted into a hard surface and if you were unfortunate to fall off would result in a bruise or graze at best and a broken limb at worst.
Mostly, playgrounds were fun. There was limited adult supervision, parents were more inclined to just let children play and so we did. We fell off, we fell out and it didn’t really seem to matter.
Today’s playgrounds lined with soft rubber mulch and crammed with ultra-safe equipment are certainly much safer places to play but where there are children there will always be accidents and perhaps today’s children, constantly under the watchful eyes of their parents, don’t always have the freedom to play as children used to.
What memories do you have of playgrounds when you were younger?
Melina - Assistant Editor
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