Thursday, 3 February 2011

Witch's Hat

Inspired by a recent post by Teacher's Pet, I remembered a type of roundabout I played on as a child called a Witch's Hat. It was really a combination of a roundabout and a swing as it swung around and into the central pole. Anyone remember these? I don't recall seeing them past the early '70's as I believe they were banned after several serious accidents, although lacking any real data this may be an urban myth.




I don't remember ever hurting myself but I can see how it was possible! The photo to the left doesn't really emanate danger and it looks like there is a restrictor near the top to limit the amount of movement towards the central pole. The photo below is better and with no restrictor this was the type that probably broke legs!


It's a little sad that my kids will never know the thrill of playing on one of these - I'm sure they weren't that dangerous!

I should point out that these aren't my photos and I'm not in them - I might remember the Witch's Hat but I'm not that old!

22 comments:

Eddie Bluelights said...

They were great Sam. When your Mum and I were kids, many, many years ago LOL, there was one a few hundred yards from you Nanna and Grandpa's house, on the common. I used to stand on the bars and bang the thing into the central post. We were a rtough lot in those days. Also on the swings we used to do two up, meaning one sitting down and the other standing and doing the work at getting higher and higher. My pal Cedric (what a name)and I went so high that we almost looped the loop round the top bar. LOL Very dangerous!! This brought back memories. There was another more conventional roundabout and we went so fast on it we were often sick!! LOL Life is a bit tame now for youngsters with all this health and safety. As the song goes, thanks for the memories.

Eddie Bluelights said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Eddie Bluelights said...

Fascinated as to where this witches hat is!! It looks so familiar but cannot place it - is it in Redland?

Thanks for the link info. I' treied it earlier and fluffed it so I had to delete the comment. Let's try again. Whoooo it worked! LOL

Clouds and Silvery Linings

Sam said...

No idea where the photos were taken but I remember the one near Nanna and Grandpa's very well - I couldn't have been much more than 7 when it mysteriously disappeared! There must be a photo somewhere - your attic maybe?

Maggie May said...

The witches hat was a firm favourite and I used to love going round on it but rough lads used to make it crash and bump and then of course, I had to get off.
The one that was very dangerous was a lower one that was called The Spider's Web and it went at top speed and children used to hang upside down from it, with their faces almost touching the ground.
I think the most dangerous thing of all was the hard concrete that was underneath all the play equipment. There was sure to be bone breakages if anyone fell off.

I think today's children are a bit molly coddled compared to the way we were brought up. I only knew one person who was killed (not on the playground.)
You brought back many memories of my childhood..
Maggie X

Nuts in May

Suburbia said...

I remember one of those!! I was at senior school in late '70's and we were allowed out at lunch time once we were in 3rd year.

In the local park we played on one of these. It was dangerous, especially for the boys who pushed it around from the inside until they couldn't keep up with the speed, if they let go they would shoot out right underneath it onto concrete! I remember having to hold on so tight as it span around and bumped nearly off it's pole that my hands hurt! It was SUCH FUN!!

TechnoBabe said...

We called them merry-go-rounds and my brother and I would yell to each other to use our Indian blood and push all the kids on the merry-go-round really fast. We would run around and around and build up momentum and then jump on. What a rush. It was so much fun. And we used so much energy on the playground.

Nora said...

I remember similar dangerous playground equipment from when I was a child. It's amazing that we didn't get fatally wounded. I think we got close sometimes. We were let loose there on our own and it's a good thing our mothers didn't know how dangerous it was. We wouldn't have been allowed to play there.

Suldog said...

Great stuff to remember. I can't recall what we called those things in the states. Maybe a tilt-a-whirl? So many rides and playground games we thought nothing of, and played day after day without injury, are no more. Shame, that.

Clare Dunn said...

There was one of these at our elementary school, but we didn't have a name for it (at least not one I can recall!)

I do remember it being scary, when the bigger kids had control of it. Guess I was a 'chicken' even back then, before we were told of the dangers...

Teacher's Pet said...

Hi Sam...
I've just read this (it's Feb. 15 as I read it...) and I was thinking the same thing as you: we rode these things and I never remember getting hurt either. Nowadays, it would probably be unheard of for children to ride such "fun" rides!!
I love that you call them "roundabouts"....as I hadn't heard that term until I read it on others' blogs.
I do hope that you are having a good week....and I hope to see you...round and about!
Smiles,
Jackie

Rae said...

Ah, I used to love the witch's hat and we also had something we called a banana boat, basically it was a bit like a large wood and metal banana hung from a frame like the swings, which a whole heap of kids could fit on, then the stronger lads would give us a good push - how teeth were not knocked out I'll never know!

Got to agree with Eddie Bluelights, life does seem tame for youngsters nowadays, very glad I grew up in the 70s

anziulewicz said...

Absolutely the bestest, funnest, most dangerous piece of playground equipment EVER! The only time I was ever on one was at Westside Park in Nanticoke, PA, back in the 1960s. My siblings and cousings had a BALL on it! Of course, if you wanted to be REALLY brave, you'd hop INSIDE the thing and try to avoid being smooshed between the bench and the center pole.

It's too bad that playgrounds are becoming such tame affairs these days. No more merry-go-rounds, no more metal slides that you could fry an egg on, no more teeter-totters ... and the ground is usually covered with chopped foam rubber rather than good old hardpacked DIRT. Eventually playgrounds are going to be little more than big piles of pillows.

Aurore said...

wow i remember being on one of these at a park in tipton. Yes, I did fall off, but onto the concrete floor below which was probably more of an issue in those days. I'm 44 and at least glad to remember the days before health and safety went crazy....I am a health and safety manager today...but wow this was fun!

noni-muss said...

I grew up on U.S. military bases in the late 60's into the 70's. We had LOTS of dangerous playground equipment. When we moved to the States in '72, there were none of those classics. Not surprising in the land of LITIGATION.

BonnieJean said...

Oh THANK YOU THANK YOU for putting this post up about the witch's hat!
My comment to everyone who considers old play ground equipment dangerous, is the STRONGER and healthier the kids, the more resilient they are, and they better fit to play on this fun equipment. The less robust kids could still have fun, as the more robust kids worked harder while the others rested intermittently. Even if you were feeling down and out, and lethargic, you could sit tucked in the middle of the merry-go-round and others could push, while you got the rush of the wind and fresh air. Seriously, playgrounds are all dumbed down, like school curricula to accommodate the lowest common denominator. The more pounding our bones get daily, the more exertion our muscles get, the more resilient we become. Take away the fun, you take away the motivation, and the gears of children's heads, and hearts, blood, muscles, and even internal organs get clogged, and slow, and lose their resiliency. Take a way all risks, you take away the road to resilient, robust bodies and minds - same with not insisting on getting outdoors for play every day regardless of the weather.

Tom Neutrino said...

I still remember them and the old park around the corner from where I stayed for a while In South Africa still has one...come to think of it I saw loads of them there still working. I never hurt myself on one and they were always my favourite!

hallyally said...

Hi Sam
I'm writing a memoir of my childhood, and hope to include a photo of a witches hat in a chapter about our local park in the late 50s/early 60s.

I'm hoping you'll give me permission to use yours! I'll acknowledge you of course!
Thanks
Allie

Birdog Karl said...

I have one of these in my backyard I am trying to sell. Does anyone know of a place that refurbishes these? It's got to be a collector item.

Allen Chandler said...

I recall that I and my cousins played on this type of merry-go-round at the grade school in
Iuka, Illinois when I was eight years old. It was there until I was sixteen and maybe years
years longer.

I am now 83 yrs. of age and recently contacted the present superintendent of the school system
In Iuka to get some historical information and mentioned the Witches Hat. He had no knowledge of it and they never placed it in storage.

Allen Chandler

allenchandler05@gmail.com

AndrewH said...

We had these in the UK in the 70s too! They were absolutely lethal and have all been removed in recent years I think.

Unknown said...

I was 8 (1982) when a young school friend of mine was killed instantly when the metal dome on the top of the witches hat fell on top of her. Her father watched it happen. They were removed soon after from memory. Its always stayed with me and i still think of her. Before this I also loved the witches hat and I imagine this was a rare freak event but I'm glad they are gone now that I'm a mum.