Before the advent of television and the vast increase in the number of motor cars, street games formed a big part in the activities of children living in Summerhill Road. This was true of the children who were brought up in post-war Britain up until the mid fifties, but prior to that, dating back to Victorian times, it was very much the main source of entertainment. This was where friendships were formed and how one developed the early concepts of  teamwork. It helped to build both confidence and character within the children. Mind you the adults would frequently suggest we should all go off to Downhills Park as we were making too much noise but, although only about 10 minutes walk away, it always seemed to much effort. Clearly they were much safer times. It would be unheard of today to allow Children to play unsupervised up to 10pm at night or to wander off to the park which was about 1/2 mile away. (Click [ HERE] for Link on those less regulated times we remember in our childhood)

The only alternative was to listen to the Radio or Wireless as it was popularly known in those times or to read comics. No doubt many of the children from these times will remember 'Ray's a Laugh, with Ted Ray. 'Life with the Lyons' with Ben & Bebe Daniels Lyons. Jimmy Jewel & Ben Warris,' Much Binding in the Marsh' with Richard Murdoch and Kenneth Horne and of course the classic 'Goon Show' with Spike Milligan, Peter Sellars and gang. For the more serious there was 'Top of the Form', 'PC 49' and 'Journey into Space'.  Favourite comics from this era were the 'Beano, 'Dandy', 'Radio Fun', 'Film Fun','Rover','Hotspur','Tiger'(Featuring Roy of the Rovers) and 'The Eagle' with Dan Dare and the Mekon. Girl's favourites included 'Jackie, 'Bunty' and 'Girl' the sister comic to the 'Eagle'.

But playing 'Street Games' remained most childrens' favourites and the following list names but a few. Hopefully this list can be extended as people remember more . So put on your thinking caps and let Ray Swain know of any new games that can be added to our list.

Click [ HERE] for a link to reminisce about your schooldays




'Knock down Ginger'
This was simply knocking on peoples' doors and then running away. A variation was to tie cotton to one knocker and attach to one or more knockers on the houses on the opposite side of the road. When the first house answered their door it triggered off all the others. Wouldn't we be pleased if kid's were to do this to us today !

One child would be 'IT' and would have to face a wall and count to a hundred. Meanwhile the other children would all run off and hide in front gardens or behind tree's etc. The child who was 'IT' would then have to try and find them.

'Tin Can Copper'
A variation on 'Run-outs'. An old tin can would be placed in the middle of the road. The child who was 'IT' would venture slowly from the can and, once a friend had been spotted, would run back to the tin can and then bang it the road and shout out 'Tin Can Copper I spy (name of Child) hiding (then name where they are hiding)'. If you were hiding but could run out from your hiding place and kick the tin can before the child who was 'IT' could reach it, then you were excused from being 'IT' in the next game. (If your parents called you in whilst playing you could declare 'Feighnights' to temporally excuse yourself from the game. This term was also used in many other games but to this day I have no idea of its origins)

'Jimmy Jimmy Knacker'
The name sound quite obscene by today's standards, but I'm sure in those times today's alternative meaning was unheard of !   One person would be the post and stand tight up against a wall. Then two others would bend down to waist high behind each other to form a platform. Then each child in turn would run up and vault on to their arched backs and cry out' Jimmy Jimmy Knacker'. The object was to see how many people could be supported on this human platform before it collapsed. 

 'He Ball'
One child was declared 'IT' and had a tennis ball. The object was to capture each of the other children by chasing them and throwing the ball at them. Once hit they were out of the game. When all the children had been captured a new game could commence.

'Golden River'
One child would stand on one side of the road and all the others on the opposite pavement. Each in turn would ask 'Please may I cross your Golden River' on answering a question they could proceed one-step only across the road. The winner was the first to cross the road having answered all the questions. Needless to say when a car came along the road everyone had to scatter which invariably lead to disputes as to where they were standing before the car came !

Similar to 'Golden River' only this time the child who was 'IT' had his or her back to the children on the opposite pavement. The object was to to move slowly across the road but 'Freeze' like a statue whenever the child who was 'IT' would turn suddenly. You were considered 'Out' if you were caught moving !

The old traditional game whereby you draw a grid in chalk on the pavement. You then toss a piece of slate onto the grid and must then hop from square-to-square along the grid to retrieve the slate and return back to the start.

Two teams were formed and a set of 'Cricket-Stumps' would be drawn on to a lamppost. One team would bowl a tennis ball underarm at the stumps and each member of the other team would attempt to kick the ball 'Football style' to score runs. Just like cricket you were 'OUT' if the ball hit the 'stumps on the lamppost or the ball you kicked was caught. Once all members of the Kicking (batting) team were 'OUT' then the roles were reversed and the other team now came 'IN' to Kick(Bat) and would try to exceed the number of runs scored by their opponents.

 'Up the Wall'

This was simply a 'handstand up against a wall to see how long you could remain there !

This was simply skipping with an old-rope using different styles and to chants such as 'Salt,Mustard,Vinegar,Pepper' etc.

'Higher and Higher'

A variation on skipping which was similar to 'High Jumping'. The rope was held static at a given height and each child would attempt to jump over it. The ones who cleared it would proceed to the next round when the height of the rope would be raised. The winner was the child who survived each round and thus jumped the highest !

Sometimes a series of chalk circles would be drawn on the pavement but more often you would use a 'Man-hole' cover on the pavement. You would flick your marble to try and land it in the dip in the manhole cover that formed the hand-grip.

'Gobs or Five-Stones'
The 5 pieces were placed on the pavement. One piece would be tossed about 1 foot into the air and, before it could fall and touch the ground, you would snatch up another piece in the same hand. You would then proceed to toss another piece in the air and repeat the process until all five pieces were firmly in your hand !

'Cigarette Cards'
Many popular cigarettes of the day 'Park Drive' Senior Service' etc. would contain picture cards on themes such as 'Footballers'. 'Cricketers','Film Stars', 'Birds','Plants' etc. These would be collected  and swapped if you had doubles of a particular card.          Alternatively you could flick your 'Fag' cards, as they were popularly known, up against a wall to see which child got their card the closest. The winner would then claim all the cards thrown in that round.

A favourite game in the Autumn was the old fashioned game of 'Conkers' or Horse Chestnuts. These would be collected from the Chestnut Tree which were often obtained by throwing lumps of wood etc. into the tree in an attempt to knock them down. Once you had your conkers you would pierce them with a meat skewer and thread them with 'Sizal' string. Somehow no other string seemed quite right!  With your stringed conker you would take it in turns to hit your opponents conker until one of them broke. The surviving conker would then become a 'One-er'. Should the same conker break another opponents conker it then became a 'Two-er' and so forth. Of course everyone claimed to possess a 'Tenner' and nobody could really challenge the accuracy of such a claim.

'Jiggers or Soap-Boxes'
In 'Summerhill Road' they were known as 'Jiggers' but, depending upon which part of London you came from, they appeared to have different names. As the name 'Soap-Box' implies they were constructed from old wooden boxes secured to a short plank. Old pram wheels were then affixed front and back. The front ones were fixed to a piece of wood which was bolted centrally to the plank to permit it to swivel. With a piece of rope secured each side of your front-wheels this became your steering mechanism. These then became racing carts and were pushed along the road. Of course everyone wanted to steer and no-one liked to run and push them.  Many a bruise and graze were inflicted when they run out-of-control and either crashed or overturned !  

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