Walking through the boy’s school last week got me thinking about how far school playgrounds have come in the last thirty odd years.
Firstly, when I think back to my primary schools playground, I’m surprised I’m actually still alive to write about it! Ok, perhaps that’s a tad melodramatic, but school playground’s back in the eighties were not for the feint hearted!
Admittedly, things seemed so much bigger and scarier back when you were a kid. From the height of the monkey bars, which seemed to break more than their fair share of arms, to the impossibly high swings, which provided a constant challenge as to who could go highest or jump the furtherest - stuff was big back in the eighties!
My primary school’s playground’s pride and joy was of a series of climbing frames, made out from treated pine and used tyres, linked by chain bridges and rope nets. They had a distinctive feeling like they’d been put together by parents at a school working bee, who had big plans and the best intentions, but hadn’t put too much thought about how a game of gang tiggy would play out on a climbing frame. In case you’re wondering, it was carnage. This was also well before “soft fall” rubber flooring, so if you fell, it was onto heavily compacted pine bark chips or bare dirt.
Perhaps something you possibly don’t see so much these days is what I’d call the “dodgy” play equipment, if you could even call it play equipment at all? In my primary school’s case this included such “play equipment” as a large concrete pipe that was big enough to crawl though and a series of large logs, that upon reflection were probably cut down at some point and it was just cheaper to leave them there, than have them removed properly. Regardless, they were part of the playground and there were always kids playing on them, albeit usually the kids that had fallen off the climbing frame during the previous play time.
Whilst playgrounds have definitely changed, I think the common thing shared by kids across all generations, is their ability to have fun, and cause a bit of havoc, with what they’ve got.
Feel free to share your favourite primary school playground stories, or even the dodgiest piece of playground equipment you remember, in the comments section below.