7) What did children do in our park?
What did children do in our park?
1) Background information
In the very first parks, provision for children was limited. They were expected to be accompanied by adults, be well-behaved and not touch anything when in the park. Groups of children entering on the own were often viewed with suspicion and not encouraged.
Large parks usually had open spaces in which children could play and perhaps fly a kite, but generally ball games were not allowed, as were bicycles in some – for those who could afford them.
Attractions for children generally included feeding ducks or animals, going out in a boat on the lake with their parents, sailing model boats, or visiting aviaries, butterfly houses and pets’ corners. Most sporting facilities for were for adults, and any participation depended upon the rules of the park and when they were not reserved for adult only use.
Some parks installed rides or miniature railways on which children and their parents could pay to ride (for those who could afford to do so).
Children were welcome at special events, such as fairs or circuses, but again, only with accompanying adults. For their amusement, there were attractions such as Punch and Judy shows, magicians or clowns.
Later, councils became aware of the need to create more facilities for children, including installing playground equipment. Such equipment became common to parks throughout the country for decades and can be seen in images in play parks from the past . In some parks separate playgrounds were created for boys and girls, not to keep them apart, but because boys had tended to dominate the use of equipment. Other new features included sand pits and paddling pools.