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Opening the Archive Thinking about collections

Playing and Protesting: Adventure Playgrounds in 1970s-80s Manchester

By Hattie

1. Playing

As soon as I opened the ‘Adventure Play’ folder Black and white photo of five children waving from a high platform on an adventure playgroundof the Elouise Edwards photograph collection I knew I wanted to write about these pictures. Although the folder also included photos of children horse riding, ice skating, river-wading and bouncy castle-jumping, the photos of the adventure playgrounds are what had me hooked. I have so many questions!  Who built them? Where were they? Were they safe? Did that even matter?

The photos show enormous wooden and metal structures, usually near a large housing block or in large empty space, with children leaping, hanging and balancing on the various platforms, slides, planks and ropes – smiling for the camera as they go. It struck me just how different playtime was for children in the 70s than it is today – not a screen in sight (just dizzying heights and a couple of splinters instead).