Childhood toys in 1950s Scotland
Colin Black remembers his favourite toys of yesteryear, from dinky toys to a model tower crane.
Just like a lot of weans growing up in the Fifties and Sixties, we played outside as much as we could. Most of my pals had a bag of bools (marbles) that we swapped and played in the dirt and broken glass of the back courts.
If we came across an old discarded set of pram wheels we looked about for some wood to make a boagie (go-cart). One of us would get a hammer and some nails from the house, and of course some string or rope for the steering.
Growing up in Parkhead we had a ready-made downhill racing track – Camlachie Street ran parallel with the Gallowgate, so there was next to no traffic on it. Camlachie Street went down and then up at the other side so you gradually slowed down after the rapid descent, then you had to pull the boagie back to the top of the hill for the next in line to get a shot.
There wasn’t a lot of money for shop-bought toys; I didn’t get a bike until I’d saved up £4 myself and bought a second-hand racer from the Glasgow Barras. Every year when we went to spend our week’s holiday in Windygates with my father’s sister Kate, I bought a Dinky car from the shop with money my Grandma Campbell gave me. How I wish I’d kept those wee cars, they’d be worth a few bob in their original boxes.
My mother and father always made an effort at Christmas time and thing I remember most from my childhood was a cowboy six shooter, it had ‘real’ plastic bullets you put in a revolving chamber. Just like the real thing, when the trigger was pulled the bullets shot out. I used to line things up to shoot them down. Hours and hours of fun when it was too dark or wet to play outside.
Another Christmas present I remember for a very different reason was a tower crane. We’ve all seen those tall slender cranes, they were commonplace when the multi-storey flats were being built. I woke up one Christmas morning in the cabinet bed I shared with my brother, and got the box out of my stocking. Then I put the crane together and hooked on things to lift. Unfortunately, I didn’t realise you couldn’t lift everything and I hadn’t even got out of bed when the crane buckled under the weight of the fruit in my stocking.
The ‘toy’ I’ve brought with me into adulthood is my bike. Not the original £4 bike from the Barras – that was replaced by a brand-new Carlton racer when I got my first job. Paid up in instalments at a small shop in Bridgeton, it was metallic bronze with white taped droop handlebars. I still love cycling today, though it’s usually forest tracks and cycle paths now, the main roads are just too busy.
QUICK LINK: Life in Sixties Scotland