When I was young I loved nothing more than going to the playground, preferably with my dad or granddad as they let me go a little crazy when I was playing on the (often dangerous) equipment. Years ago going to a playground meant that you ran the risk of hurting yourself; there was no cushioned floor and plastic equipment designed and built for safety and fun. Instead you had a floor made from concrete or grass (if you were lucky) and equipment made from metal.
For me this added to the excitement of playing and I’m pretty sure most other kids felt the same way. Here are some of the pieces of playground equipment I used to love.
One of the tamer pieces of equipment, or so you would think! In most playgrounds there was at least one see saw, and if you were lucky there would be two – one small and one large. It was always best to get on the see saw with someone who wanted to have a laugh as this meant going as high and as fast as you could. Pushing off with your legs as soon as your feet hit the floor was the best tactic to propel yourself back into the air as your friend went back down.
There were also some versions of the see saw that rotated as well as going up and down. These added even more entertainment as they could be very unpredictable!
The Witches Hat was not for the faint hearted and it managed to injure plenty of kids and adults each year. You would sit – or stand if you were feeling extra brave – on the planks of wood that were around the bottom and someone, usually a parent or older friend, would have to swing the hat round. The faster you went, the more chance there was of you falling off and most people who played on it would come away with a scraped knee or worse… I know I did. The thing was, even falling off and hurting yourself wasn’t enough to put you off!
Check out the Witches Hat photo…complete with muddy puddle as a treat for anyone who couldn’t hold on.
This was another piece of equipment that might look quite innocent, but could easily cause injury and sickness. Some kids would be sensible on the merry-go-round and push it so that it was just gently rotating round. Others, like me, would see how long they could stay on the thing as their friends spun it as fast as possible. If you hadn’t either come flying off a merry-go-round or felt – or possibly even been! – sick and dizzy for five minutes after being on one, you were probably the type of kid who thought the swings were the height of excitement.
Who remembers the rocking horse? The piece of playground equipment that consisted of a long bench with seats and handles that you sat astride while you rocked back and forwards? For a gentle ride you could sit and sway calmly, or for something that was like a roller coaster in the park you could get a strong friend, or one of the dads to get hold of the front or back of the ride and push it up and down. Doing this would almost send everyone on the rocking horse flying off but it was such as buzz… you could almost imagine you were riding a Grand National winner over jumps.
While everyone will remember the old playground equipment with fondness, I’m pretty glad that the old, dangerous equipment is gone, especially now I’m a parent. But it’s still nice to reminisce, even if the memories can be a little painful!
An article by Joanne Macrae who has enjoyed wandering down memory lane and sharing her thoughts about playground equipment.