18th December 2017
First Picture: Dinky Toy
Second Picture: The View Master
Third Picture: Scalectrix
Forth Picture: Dolls House
Christmas Presents of our Childhood.
Whether they'd been naughty or nice, children in the 1950s dreamed of finding very different things in their Christmas stockings to the kids of today.
There is a lovely film taken in the UK back in 1959, this black and white footage shows a group of adorable youngsters being asked by Santa what they'd like him to bring them. And they weren't looking for a Barbie, Buzz Lightyear, or Scalextric and definitely not electronic games.
Dressed in shirts, pinnies, winter coats with sewn in gloves, centre-partings and bobs, these cute primary schoolchildren only wanted for simple things - especially the girls.
Two little boys tell Father Christmas that they most wanted 'a bike', with two wheels and a bell, a clockwork mouse and a penny whistle.
But the girls are even cuter with their humble requests.
The kids of the 1950s didn't want for extravagant gifts. Bright-eyed Gillian, seven, asks for a toy ironing board - no doubt so she can help her mum around the house. Eight-year-old Lynne just wants to dress smartly and asks Santa for 'an underskirt' - not exactly a pony, is it?
The two other little girls ask for 'a bible' and 'oh, anything'.
Who's betting their grandchildren are asking for smartwatches, iPads, computers, talking dolls, robots and TVs?
The toys of our childhood were certainly simpler than today. No computer games, no internet, in fact we rarely needed batteries let alone a wireless connection! The ultimate high-tech toy was probably Scalextric or an electric train set and you were very lucky to have one of these.
We still loved simple games from the past like Jacks, but toys influenced by TV and film characters were the new thing - from Sooty puppets to James Bond’s Aston Martin and the ultimate… Thunderbird 2. It was F.A.B.!
Times were changing but play time still tended to be dolls and home making for the girls; cap guns and Airfix models for the boys. It was the likes of the Etch-a-sketch and Spirograph we all loved.
Here are a few favourite toys from the 1950s and 1960s. Bet you had at least one of them and we bet you wish you’d kept the box!
1. Dinky toys
Few things were more exciting than a bright yellow box containing the latest model.
The most amazing invention ever. Countless hours spent creating incredible, magical patterns and shapes with a few coloured pens and some plastic discs.
The laptop of its day! The instructions were simple: Turn the knobs to draw. To erase, turn it upside down and shake. I never quite mastered curves though…
4. View Master
Another bright red classic and a must on the Christmas list. Cartoons, Batman and Doctor Who in glorious Stereoscopic vision.
‘The doll you love to dress’. Our own, far more wholesome, truly British alternative to Barbie and we loved her. Remember her Beatles era boyfriend, Paul?
6. Action Man
Dolls have never come more macho than this. He even had gripping hands. Deep sea diver, soldier, cricketer, martial arts expert. Was there anything he couldn’t do?
Days spent mastering the fine art of keeping those little cars on the track. Hours spent mesmerized by cars going round and round and round the racing track. Complete Heaven.
8. Play doh
“Don’t play with that in the front room. You’ll ruin the carpet!” was mothers cry!. Oops! Too late.
9. Dolls house
Usually made by Dad or an uncle from odd bits of wood with scraps of carpet on the floors and tiny curtains in the windows. Miniature versions of the home girls dreamt of living in with Prince Charming.
Has my pick of toys from simpler times put a smile on your face? Before you rush up to the attic in search of your original Mr Potato Head or Hornby train set, why not take a moment to share your play time memories with all of us?
Keep in touch
Just received today’s blog and was curious about the Carmarthen Avenue picture. I think I am right in saying the picture shows Aberdare Avenue. The white houses to the left cascade away down and around in Drayton Lane. The lower of these houses on the bend would have a view into the chalk pit.
In the picture of Aberdare Avenue, the top most on the east side of the road has yet to be built. This house with integral garage is of a completely different later style. The house opposite on the west side of the road is also different style to all but three others in the road, but looks like it was built in the same era late 1920s I believe.
The scrub and the long grass is exactly as I remember it when I came to the area 1958. For some years, for November 5th a large bonfire was assembled 50/60 yards up from the top of the Avenue. There was also a sort of groove than ran down the hill in this vicinity that was very popular when we had a decent lay of snow.
Phil Writes re Fred Helyer:
I was in the Senior Scouts when Fred Helyer was a leader (I think his surname had a single “L”) and he lived in Hilary Avenue. Looking at Google Maps I think he and his wife, June, lived at number 18; there was garage access gap between some houses and (I think) his house was one house from the access that went dog-legged through to The Close. I know he worked at the The Highbury Tech School (now the Highbury College) ; I think he was a lecturer for gas fitters. He used to drive a Bedford Dormobile which he also used to carry us scouts and equipment around in; he’d allowed the scouts to paint the Dormobile in 2-tone household paint light blue and light grey.
I left the scouts in 1966 and moved to London. I don’t know what Fred did after that time.
I may have a photo or two that include him; I’ll have a hunt for them. The scout leader (not senior scouts) around that time was Alan Nossiter who lived in Park Avenue, Purbrook. Alan turned up at my house in Australia 10 – 15 years ago and handed me a copy of 35mm film of those scouting days; I’m sure Fred Helyer was on that film, too. Alan was primarily in Australia visiting friends or relatives in Adelaide. He must have obtained my address from my brother.
News and Views:
On this day 18th December 1960-1965
On 18/12/1960 the number one single was It's Now Or Never - Elvis Presley and the number one album was South Pacific Soundtrack. The top rated TV show was Knight Errant (Granada) and the box office smash was Psycho. A pound of today's money was worth £13.68 and Tottenham Hotspur were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.
On 18/12/1961 the number one single was Tower of Strength - Frankie Vaughan and the number one album was Another Black & White Minstrel Show - George Mitchell Minstrels. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was One Hundred and One Dalmations. A pound of today's money was worth £13.25 and Ipswich Town were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.
On 18/12/1962 the number one single was Return to Sender - Elvis Presley and the number one album was West Side Story Soundtrack. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was Lawrence of Arabia. A pound of today's money was worth £12.89 and Everton were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.
On 18/12/1963 the number one single was I Want to Hold Your hand - The Beatles and the number one album was With the Beatles - The Beatles. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was The Great Escape. A pound of today's money was worth £12.64 and Liverpool were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.
On 18/12/1964 the number one single was I Feel Fine - The Beatles and the number one album was Beatles For Sale - The Beatles. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was Dr Strangelove. A pound of today's money was worth £12.24 and Manchester United were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.
On 18/12/1965 the number one single was Day Tripper/We Can Work It Out - The Beatles and the number one album was The Sound of Music Soundtrack. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was The Sound of Music. A pound of today's money was worth £11.69 and Liverpool were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.