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Last Updated: Thursday, 7 June 2007, 08:54 GMT 09:54 UK
Summers of fun (for some)
Child on Space Hopper
Sunshine and Space Hoppers
The Magazine is compiling a people's history of modern Britain - featuring your written memories and photos. We started with the 1950s and the 1960s and now focus on the 70s.

It was the decade of strikes, electricity shortages and piles of rotting rubbish on the street.

But among the hundreds of written memories you e-mailed to us, it was clear that the industrial unrest was only one part of the story.

For many of you the decade was defined by the music and the fashion. Or childhood freedom enjoying long, hot summers on Chopper bikes and Space Hoppers.

Here is a selection of your comments about how you entertained yourself as children in the 70s.


Leo Kelly in 1970
I was born in '66 and I have fond memories being a kid back then... Excellent music, bad clothes and hair, being chased by skinheads, cheap sweets, red bus rovers, hot summers in the park getting the park keeper to chase us (whatever happened to park keepers), no money, no worries and just loads of fun despite all that was happening politically. I do remember piles and piles of rubbish outside my cub hall and seeing the odd rat or two.
Leo Kelly in 1974
As for blackouts and three-day weeks, these are things of legend to me. I was busy having fun, it was safe to play out late back then no need for a games console even if we had one dad wouldn't let us watch anything on the one telly accept the news. You were doing well if you had a space hopper or a skate board and if you were doing really well a Raleigh Chopper.
Leo Kelly in 2007
No mobiles, no videos, no DVDs, no PCs, no latest trainers. We were happy with a good stick to play with and despite what the grown ups told us nobody ever had their eye out. Being a kid back then was magic:-)
Leo Kelly, Ware, UK (in 1970, 1974 and 2007)

Being born in 1972, my summer days in the late 70s were spent rallying through the countryside around Denby Dale, West Yorkshire on my Raleigh Grifter, or climbing trees and building dens in the woods behind our house, or daring acrobatics on the rope swings over the stream with my group of friends, which invariably ended with all of us getting clarted in mud - as long as I was back for tea, mum never had to worry. If it was a rainy day, I played all day in my bedroom with either toy cars or read my Enid Blyton books. The yearly highlight was the village summer fete and parade with floats that local companies, our school and the majority of parents pitched in to organise. One year, I think it was during the 1976 heatwave, a teacher from Gilthwaites First School (Mr Wright) drove his bright yellow Citroen in the parade with a megaphone strapped to the roof blaring out 'yellow submarine'!
Mike, Ripon, North Yorkshire

1977 - Star Wars. I remember seeing it at The White Palace, Pontypridd. Cinemas just don't have grand names like that anymore. As it was such a big event, my parents bought me the official programme and I got to go up the grand, maroon, carpeted staircase to watch from the balcony seats.
Gareth Norman
Bearing in mind the economic state at the time the visit was an extravagance. Brilliant though the film was (and is), it's the toys I remember. The little three-inch high figurines that meant Action-Man and Space Hoppers were left neglected. Star Wars toys were just the best thing ever! Nothing else from the 70s has had the impact upon my life like Star Wars has. Except for a romantic night-in in '72 between my parents, that was quite influential too.
Gareth, Warrington

I was a child in the 70s, having been born in 1971. We walked to school in all weathers (and there were all weathers in those days), played out all the time and our school had one TV set shared between two sites! Things were either very colourful or several shades of brown. I don't remember kids being into fashion or labels clothes-wise, but boys like me wanted Clarks Commandos shoes and a Raleigh Boxer or Grifter bike!
Mark Antony, Northamptonshire

Space was big in the 70s. I bought 2000AD and Action comics, joined the Star Wars fan club, and dreamed of being a space-explorer. Computer and video games were coming in: space was a recurring theme. At school there was warm milk in individual bottles, and stranger-danger films shown on a telly with big shutters.
Richard Graham, Newcastle

Raleigh Choppers, space hoppers, soda stream fizzy drinks, ice cream that tasted like frozen margarine, passing my 11 plus and my "cycling proficiency" test, wearing a cap to school, the Cold War, sitting in a pub garden with my parents drinking lemonade, the coming ice age, those ridiculous high-waisted flares with platform shoes, "unisex" hairdressers, Chinese takeaways seeming like an exotic treat. No political correctness, no health and safety, life was simpler, slower and more enjoyable.
Matt Munro, Bristol, UK

WHAT WE'RE DOING
Read Andrew Marr's take on the decade in the Magazine every Tuesday
Watch his History of Modern Britain on BBC Two on Tuesdays at 2100 BST
Read and watch your written memories, pictures and videos every Friday in the Magazine
I remember three day weeks, power cuts, strikes at British Leyland and the Birmingham pub bombings. Trying times for the nation but as a child I was only aware of the fun to be had in the suburbs on my skateboard, endless summers on hot tarmac. But all too soon it was over, puberty, punk rock and then 'that bloody woman' as my mother would say. Manufacturing industry collapsed and the Birmingham my family had known for 150 years was gone forever.
Eddy Gray, Birmingham

Southend, early 70s; first things I remember are the corner shops. Buying a pack of five football cards, not stickers, with a slither of pink bubble gum inside, 2p a pack. It seems that us youngsters never bought anything to drink. There were no cans, no plastic bottles in sweet shops. There were cup drinks where you broke the top with a pointed straw. Weak squash in bright colours. But the Fizzyman would come round once a week on a big Corona lorry. And we took the bottles to a shop to get some pennies back. No cash machines or McDonalds anywhere. Playground songs about war and about Georgie Best. Only ITV showed programmes throughout the daytime. Daytime TV hardly existed.
Simon Smith, Burnham-on-Crouch

Power cuts, The Queen's Silver Jubilee in 1977 (to celebrate we had a mini funfair set up in the playground), having quite a few extra days off school during the Wilson/Heath era because my school was used as a polling station. And of course, hours entertaining ourselves by playing "Scooby Doo" - all you needed was a long piece of elastic tied at both ends. Wonderful!
Helen Drew, London

Tank tops, and hot pants, hot summer holidays, and snowy winters sat by the coal fire. Tressy dolls and pippa dolls, spangle sweets and toffee treets. Rola Cola and Cresta pop. PG Tips ads with chimps, and Smash potato ads with Aliens.
Jeanette Cutler, Sheffield, South Yorkshire. UK

Watching Princess Anne get married on the big TV at primary school. The famous summer of 1976 - my Dad would take me to the local open air swimming pool after work, riding on the cross bar of his bike. Homework by candlelight during the power cuts and not understanding why a 3 day week was a bad thing, I thought it sounded great!
Fran, London

These are the days when we made our own fun, sliding down the mountain on a piece off cardboard, making go-karts out of old wood and pram wheels, listening to the rock and roll era ,and then in comes the glam rock, the Sundays when your dad is listening to sing something simple on the radio, and Jimmy Clivaro, and him shouting up the stairs turn that row down, Slade banging out loud, my brothers outside cleaning there Cortina cars, nephews on there Space Hoppers, my mother holding the aerial around the room trying to get a reception on our new colour telly, all the family getting together on a Sunday afternoon, when my dad's in work, those were the days.
JA Larcombe, Pontypool

Summer 1976
The 1976 drought wasn't all fun...
I was born in 1972 and remember growing up in what seemed like a care-free era. As a child in the 70s I was blissfully unaware of the social and economic changes that were taking place. My world was filled with school (where you could still get hit with a slipper or a blackboard rubber for misbehaving); watching Doctor Who (Don't let anyone say Tom Baker was not the best ever); and then there were Choppers, Strikers, Space Hoppers and skate boards - these were the transport modes of choice for most kids in the 70s. We could go and play in the street all day and our parents would not be worried about us. Cuts and scrapes were common but these were no-one's fault and no one got sued! Ah... the good old days!
Darren Taylor, Poole, Dorset

In the 70s most children had respect for police, park keepers, teachers, all adults. By taking away the park keepers, reducing the police on the beat and taking away much of the discipline teachers were allowed to carry out, a huge amount of respect has just gone. Mums didn't often have cars and children cycled everywhere. We were much fitter and obesity was rare. Mind you, there was less convenience food and a treat was a bottle of Tizer. These days it's all the norm.
Hazel, Suffolk

I remember when new accommodation was built for seven out of the 11 houses at Charterhouse School, and in 1973 my house was the first to move into them, from its old Victorian rabbit-warren. In an instant, the old hierarchical system, complete with fagging, disappeared as the new buildings simply did not lend themselves to that sort of regime. It was an early and interesting lesson into how environment can alter behaviour. Oh, and it's nice to know that the drystone wall I built there, in a defaulter's punishment, is still standing.
Neil Murray, London

I was at primary school and I still fondly remember Saturday mornings. Sitting on my Gran's living-room floor surrounded by fellow grandkids all eating our own rolls n' sausage with brown sauce while watching TV. I still remember "Get on board, get on board, get on board with the Double Deckers" and the programme with the magic talking flute, the Banana Splits with the cartoon of the guy who could change into ANYTHING "size of an elephant" seemed to be a favourite. Playing outside all day in the long hot summers AND in the frozen 6ft+ snow drifts in winter. Lots of laughter. Brilliant camping holidays and fun days on the beach. All in all a much more innocent time when children could be/were children - and for a lot longer than they are now. If I could I would go back and do it all over again!
Karen, Hamilton

OTHER 1970s MEMORIES
Brought up in a three-bedroom council house in Small Heath, Birmingham. Parents and grandparents came to England from Barbados in the 50s/60s. Used to play hide and seek with my brother indoors. Winters involved paraffin heaters, hot water bottles, and seeing your breath if you peeped from under the bedcovers. Mum dried the clothes in a closet beside the hot water tank, or on a clothes rack. Summers involved watching dad's friends play cricket in Kings Heath Park on Sundays, playing "kick the can" or football with the neighbours, helping dad in his workshop, trips to relatives in London, excursions to the seaside. Jublees, Mr. Kiplings Pies, steak and kidney Pie, or fish, or saveloy and chips, Marathon, now known as Snickers, Rowntree's Fruit Pastilles... gotta chew, gotta chew, loved that ad! Whole family and I moved to Barbados in '85. Mum and dad used to complain about the cold, now I complain coz' its too hot!
Anthony, Bridgetown, Barbados.

My 1970s memory isn't of events on this planet at all, but of the Viking landers arriving on Mars. We said "Wow!" in those days - and meant it. I watched breathless, as a child in the last decade in which anyone really believed that science was going to save us. I watched that scoop gouge into the soil in search of life. No line in the sand ever meant so much!
Nigel Macarthur, London, England

Mum didn't work as she had kids and looking back, times were hard but we always had enough to eat, played games we made up as we didn't have lots of toys, walking to school and back, walking three miles to my grandparents at the other side of Leeds and back, sometimes twice a day, getting off the bus a stop early so I could save 5p and buy some sweets, the coal fire in the living room which I really miss now.
Helen Skidmore, Leeds, West Yorkshire

The chaotic transition of the sleepy, shabby, South London Catholic grammer school that I attended to a comprehensive. U16 punk gigs at the Marquee in Wardour St (no spitting) Grime and grimness as we skateboarded through London to the South Bank and around the "bashes" of the homeless. IRA bombings and the desperate, fractured sense that filled the country when we went to the IMF. We never knew what time dad would be home because of bomb threats and tube/ train strikes
Hambone, Houston TX

I remember the 70s as being full of sunshine. In the hot summers of 75 and 76 the sun went on and on, but of course before the heat started, in June 76, it snowed! At my convent school from 77-82 the grass went brown, we got all hot and bothered in heavy uniforms, and my leg plasters got lots of signatures on them in 77 and 78, including Jimmy Saville's! Summer times were spent with our parents, soaking up the sunshine on the beaches of the south coast - but in the evening, the caravan was like an oven! For Princess Anne's wedding in 73, we didn't have a colour TV so we all went round to mum's friend to watch it - us kids didn't take much notice, but I wish I had now. It was a much simpler childhood than kids have now, and I am glad I was aged 4-14 in that period.
Nina Bunton, Bristol now, Aylesbury then

Families went to the park for recreation. I remember my dad taking my friend, my sister and I to the local park at the weekends on long, warm, sunny days and pushing us on the swings for hours and hours. He would buy us all an ice-cream or lolly from the park cafe, and we would sit on the grass eating them whilst he made daisy chains and picked blossom to hang around our necks. People sat around on benches watching others bowling, playing tennis and on the putting green. The garden areas would be spectacularly planted with colourful bedding and I remember seeing the Leigh Coat of Arms displayed as a 'floral clock' centrepiece. We had much civic pride and happier, safer communities to live in then.
Ann Robinson, Leigh

I have to say, as a child, I loved the 70's. First the long hot summers - I lived in the countryside at the time, surrounded by farms, and I remember those endless, long, bright days, heavy with heat. There was no fear of paedophiles, and I was free to wander for miles and miles, as long as I liked, and I stayed out from sunrise to sunset. There was a ladybird epidemic, and I remember seeing the edges of my windows black with ladybirds, which I adored. And the fields of tinder-dry wheat bursting into flames at the slightest spark - there was always a smudge of smoke somewhere on the horizon. !
Michelle, London

I remember the scorching hot summer of 76, being caught by a host of little grass fires in Epping Forest- no McDonalds, no mobiles, limited TV - and trying to catch the top 40 rundown on Sunday evenings on my tinny transistor radio while trying to pick Friday night's glitter off my scalp. Vosene shampoo and No 17 make-up. Sod the strikes, three day school!!!
Vee Kelly, Islington London

The best part of my childhood was romping through fields, thinking cider was a pop drink and the outdoor swimming pool, which is no longer, was where I learnt to swim. Cheddar primary school was great fun, my best friend Sandra and I were always up to mischief. Moved to South Africa in 75 just before going to secondary school. Back to Torquay to be amazed by the new punk era which wasn't out in SA. Summers were always hot in the 70s but I vaguely remember the coal strike which affected us whilst we were in Bristol and power cuts due to strikes, also the opening of the M5, and getting stuck in a traffic jam on the new motorway.
Sharon, Torquay





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