Danger in the playground

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One of the Facebook local history groups to which I belong were discussing items of children’s playground equipment which can no longer be seen, equipment that was potentially lethal and which no modern-day authority would allow on their children’s play areas. One of these was the Witch’s Hat a sort of roundabout pivoted at the top so as well as going round it could also sway from side to side. Kids actually loved it, but it had the potential for injury should a child get in the way whilst it was swaying. My photograph shows a Witch’s Hat at Gelligaled Park in the Rhondda. Taken during the period I worked at the Jane Hodge Holiday Home (1968-74) and from my diary record of those years by identifying the children shown I can narrow the dates of both photographs to sometime between the 10th to 13th or 16th to 19th of October 1972.

Another fun but potentially dangerous item I seem to recall we called The Jerker, although Wicksteed the manufacturers of this piece of equipment named this a Plank Swing. The swing had a travel limiter but nevertheless this thing could go very high and extremely fast before the bar prevented further upward movement.  In the background can be seen another piece of playground equipment that has disappeared, the Jungle Gym climbing frame. The fair-haired boys seen either end of the swing were non-identical twin brothers and a mischievous pair they were too, the one on the right is also in the first photo.

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The film was Ilford HP4 and the developer was probably Ilford Microphen, although on this occasion my negative file is devoid of that information. The camera was probably my Minolta SRT 303, again my record doesn’t specify.

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