When child’s play was an outdoor pleasure

Some people are concerned that children today spend too much time indoors – on the likes of computers and phones – and not enough in the fresh air playing games.

Friday, 22nd March 2019, 9:08 am
Updated Friday, 22nd March 2019, 9:08 am
The new School Loaning Nursery School seen from the children's play area. The picture was taken in July 1971.

Such worries didn’t exist just a few short years ago, when youngsters had to be dragged inside once darkness fell, having spent hours upon end in play.

Whether it was playing football or one of many other activities, such as block, tig, skipping, British Bulldog or the likes; it was a common sight in days gone by to see lots of youngsters charging around the streets, expending energy and keeping fit.

Temple Park Leisure and Gym Centre - Jungle Gym day, back in October 1983 .

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There was little thought of staying indoors (unless there was homework to be done). Instead, once school was over, it was outside, whatever the weather, to meet up with your friends and decide “what we’re going to do today?”

Best of all though were the weekends and the school holidays when time seemed endless – along with the possibilities for having fun.

We all had bikes, shop bought if you were lucky, or bitzers, made from “bits of this and that” (found abandoned all over the place), allowing us to pedal near and far in search of adventure.

And we often rode off in style, having fixed a piece of hefty card onto the frame so that it caught the spinning spokes, making our bikes sound like motorcycles, or so we thought at the time.

Anything and everything could be adapted for the benefit of having fun – how many of you recall converting an old pram into a bogey or building bits of abandoned furniture into a den?

Trees were made for climbing, puddles for jumping into and overgrown wasteland for exploring.

We did, of course spend some time playing indoors (Subbuteo’s no good in the wind and rain), but as mams everywhere would agree, playing outside was best – after all, “all that fresh air will make you sleep!”

Times change and leisure activities as far as today’s kids are concerned are no longer the simple “DIY” pleasure they used to be, but taking a break from TVs and tablets and popping outdoors now and again must surely be a good thing. After all, there’s a big wide world out there!

Where did you used to play and what did you used to get up to? Please drop me a line with your thoughts.

Meanwhile seeing children at play in a 1971 photo of the “new” School Loaning Nursery School play area in South Shields, prompted lots of you to get in touch with your memories via the Gazette’s Facebook site – some remembering the school and others the games they used to play.

Albert Elliott took to social media to say: “I was born in school loaning in 1950” while Jenny Martin told how “I went there when I was little”.

Joanne Moore recalled how the school “was burgled when I went there and they let the animals out. My mam bought them a budgie and they named it Bobby Bingo cos she was always late picking me up when she had been to bingo on a afternoon.”

Margy Magpie Mcqueen posted: “Aww I went here, I remember putting my name on an apple tree” while Christina Walker tells the photo of the school “looks a bit like how I remember Harton nursery used to be.”

Games readers remember are sure to bring back memories for the boys and girls of old.

Melanie Nelson recalls: “Marbles on drain lids” while Rob Morley has fond memories of “football and cowboys and indians”.

Davey Aldus Jnr tells of “catchy kisses!”, Lynsey Freestone remembers “hopscotch” and Kenny Kenken/Noye Mcguigan simply says – “skips!”