Researchers appealing for playtime tales

FUN from the 50s and 60s is to be brought back to life as part a major Sheffield University project to explore playground games past and present.

Pupils from Ecclesfield Grammar School contributed to a national playtime project nearly 60 years ago as part of a UK-wide survey.

Now researchers Professor Jackie Marsh and Dr Julia Bishop are trying to track the youngsters down so they can cast their minds back to their childhood days.

They only recently discovered that Class 2C at Ecclesfield in 1953-4 were part of a groundbreaking national survey carried out by folklorists Iona and Peter Opie.

Their descriptions of their every day playground games - often inspired by films or TV - were sent in to the Opies by Linden Huddlestone, a teacher at the school.

The information has been preserved and is now held by the Bodleian Library, Oxford.

Prof Marsh said: “We thought it would be fascinating to try and trace these former pupils and others at the school from the same period and find out more about their childhood play and games at home and school.

“Having recently carried out research on media-related play in nearby Parson Cross, we thought it would be interesting to compare the games of the Ecclesfield children in the 1950s with those of children today.”

The hunt is now on to track down pupils of the school from the early 50s. They would also like to get in touch with ones who described their games and rhymes for the Opies.

Dr Bishop said: “We would love to hear from any of these ex-pupils who would be willing to tell us some more about their school days and memories of playing out, including any games or rhymes that were influenced by the media or advertising and commercially made toys and playthings they had.”

Dr Bishop said reports often claim children don’t know how to play any more and traditional games have been replaced by watching television and playing computer games.

“But how many adults used to play games in the street or playground that were inspired by or referred to the media?” she said.

The Sheffield study is researching memories of street and playground games influenced by the media.

n To find out more or to contribute visit the project’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/MemoriesofChildhoodPlay