Tom Dodson - 'Street Games I' Limited edition print

'Street Games I'

Copyright Bell Galleries / Fine Art Trade Guild.  All Rights Reserved

A typical street, consisting of twenty or thirty terraced houses, the front doors of which opened straight onto the flagged pavements.  Gas pipes were usually situated to one side of the front door and there was large iron hook sticking out from the bricks at the top of the front door, to which the clothes line was attached each Monday washing day.

Most of the homes had sash windows and there was usually an aspidistra on display in the front room.  Above the front door, and in the fanlight windows, stood various ornaments; perhaps a King Charles Spaniel or a dancing lady, depending on your means.  I lived in the second house along just half a mile from the docks, in Salford 5.

Some of the games played by the children during different seasons are recorded in this picture.  Both football and cricket could be played by drawing lines on the pitched gable-end of the block.  Iron hoops went clattering over the cobbled street until bicycles appeared. Then you were considered ‘posh’ if you bowled an old bicycle tyre along because it made much less noise.  Ring-o’-Roses, shuttlecock, whip and top, marbles and cigarette cards were all played at various times of the year.  The noisiest and fittest boys played ‘piggy’ and ‘weak horse’, while skipping and ‘rally’ho’ were usually the girls’ favourites.

Boys also passed their time climbing lamp posts and swinging on the rail which jutted out from the pole, just underneath the lamp itself - where the lamplighter usually rested his ladders.  Girls also used this rail to attach a rope so they could swing around the post. Lucky was the boy or girl who could boast ownership of a scooter.  Then, scooters were made completely of wood, including their large wheels.  Everyone was your friend then, in hope of getting a turn on your scooter.