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Playgrounds of the Past

November 25, 2013  •  6 Comments

I couldn't have a Week of Vintage without including my friend Sarah from  Paisley Rains Boots. We share a love of photographing vintage and documenting the places near to where we live... the places we often pass by without a second thought.  Sarah kindly agreed to write a guest post for my Vintage Week.  

And so over to Sarah....


Playgrounds of the Past



I never thought as I clung to the first run of the monkey bars on my grade school playground that one day they would be considered vintage. Or for that matter, that very few of them would even exist 40 years later.

Today these metal marvels have been replaced by plastic and rubber, things considered safe. I have nothing against safety, but I wonder how we all survived, and kids now days can't get a little dirty or shed a few drops of blood. Where did the pioneer spirit go in just a few decades?

I have always had a love for old playground toys, but my obsession with them began this fall when my husband sent me this article 11 Playgound Essentials They Don't Make Like They Used To  Since reading this I have been on the hunt everywhere I go to find some vintage relics. Let me tell you they are few and far between, but when I spot something my heart does a little leap of joy in my chest.

These are the treasures I have found this fall:

The Slide



The slide was invented by Charles Wicksteed, and the first slide, made of planks of wood, was installed in Wicksteed Park in Kettering, Northamptonshire, England in 1922.

I think I will pick hot metal over planks of wood any day. I can still find quite a few metal slides, but eventually they will be replaced by plastic ones.

The Merry-Go-Round (or Roundabout)



This is a ride that I have avoided most of my life. Spinning does bad things to my stomach.

The merry-go-round is a flat disk, frequently 2-3 meters in diameter, with bars on it that act as both hand-holds and something to lean against while riding. The disk can be made to spin by pushing or pulling on its handles, either by running around the outside, or by pulling and re=grabbing as it spins from a stationary stance.

I found this lovely with a wood plank floor, as opposed to the usual metal floor, on one of my Friday adventures.

The Teeter-Totter



These have been extremely hard for me to find. Probably because of the risk of injury involved with them.

In it's simplest form it is a long narrow board pivoting in the middle. A person sits on each end of the board, and they take turns pushing their feet against the the ground to lift their side in the air. You don't want the person on the other end to get of suddenly or you will have a quick and rather painful landing.

Spring Toys



This is probably my favourite vintage toy to photograph, there is something so delightful about the different animal shapes made from the industrial strength steel and on heavy duty springs. The chippings and wonderful vintage colours call to this photographer.



Swings are the most unchanged playground toy, and you can still find lots of vintage looking sets.

This is another toy that the motion sickness impaired stay away from actually riding.

The ones I am finding today are still mainly made up of a tall metal pole frame with a rubberised swing seat suspended from the metal frame by chains.

The best place to find these vintage relics today is country parks or township parks. Also, no longer in use school buildings.

I would highly encourage you to go out and do some exploring, looking for vintage playground toys. I would love to see what you find.



Thank you so much Sarah  - plenty of food for thought. I remember as a child when we spent all day and every day on the playground during the school holidays. We used to grease the slide with empty crisp packets to make us go faster! I used to hang upside down from the top of the swing frame - I'd have heart failure if my kids did that!! And the roundabout ... well,  the boys always used to spin it so fast we used to cling on for dear life - you don't see that these days... no doubt they'd be 'reported'! Happy memories! 

Hope you'll join me on a Vintage Link Up next Sunday! And don't forget to take a look at Sarah's blog  she has plenty to interest you and her series on Backroad Adventures is especially inspiring!






Andrea Hayes(non-registered)
Wonderful post both Sarah and Helen. When I get more time I will try and visit more often.
Denise Powers Fabian(non-registered)
What memories this brought back to me...I have stories about each vintage playground piece. Wonderful job.
Robyn Greenhouse(non-registered)
Playgrounds are fun at any age! What a fun walk through the park!
Kelly McKenzie(non-registered)
Over here in western Canada these playground gems existed until about ten years ago. My daughter and son flung themselves about on the merry-go-round. Can't tell you how many times I spun that thing for them. It's gone and has not been replaced. At the same park they would hurl themselves down the huge metal slide. Love your reference to "crisp packets." That slide is gone now and been replaced by a plastic version. Shorter and not nearly as speedy. The springy whale has been replaced by a pretty skookum version that seats 4. It I like. Swings thankfully are still everywhere. Fantastic post - loved the slide down memory lane. Thank you!
Cathy H.(non-registered)
What a wonderful trip down memory lane!! Great job, Sarah! I loved the teeter-totter and yes I took a few hard landings! My grandfather made us a merry-go-round which consisted of the floor, but no bars. He somehow used a car wheel to get the spinning action. We loved to spin and spin. My own kids got to play on it before my grandfather had to sell his property. Looking forward to the rest of this week with you!
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