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My Favourite Childhood Toys, Just How Old Is This Hubber

Updated on September 20, 2018
ethel smith profile image

With a keen interest in British politics this writer is never afraid to share her opinion

Classic Comics such as The Beano and The Dandy

Childhood Memories

You know you are getting old when........

There are so many things that make you realize your age.

Doctors, wanting to examine you, who look as if they should still be wearing a school uniform. Police officers who look as if they should still be active members of a school gang.

Memories of toys, that children today have either never heard of or think belong in the Ark.

Well I now fall into this category and can relate to all of the above. I may have no children but, with a barrel load of nieces and nephews, I do buy toys as gifts. The choice these days is vast and usually expensive.

When I was growing up we had no shortage of toys but they were hardly sophisticated and definitely not technological.

So here are some of favourite childhood toys, interspersed with a few memories.

Some games may still be enjoyed today but offers will make you think that I am as old as Methuselah.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
50's dollSnapSnakes and LaddersToy submarine
50's doll
50's doll
Snakes and Ladders
Snakes and Ladders
Toy submarine
Toy submarine

Childhood toys and the Memories they evoke

When I was a child living in Yorkshire in the 1950s money was tight. Retailers were still getting over the stock shortages of World War Two and its immediate aftermath.

Toys were still a luxury item and there was still an air of make do and mend. To reinforce this point consider candy or as we call them sweets were still ratio ed when I was a very young child.

Hand-made Wooden Toys

My Dad was quite a handy sort of guy and made plenty of things. Where our coal-house had been, at the end of our kitchen, Dad made a small workshop. He had an old foot treadle, fret saw machine in here and he made wondrous items with off cuts of wood.

Toys, such as a monkey which climbed up and down its own ladder were easy peazy for him to make. This meant that our Christmas stockings always had an array of quirky wooden toys.

When he wanted to make larger items he would purchase Hobby's Annual, which resulted in him making a toy Fort, Garage and a Doll's House.

All of this was done when my brother and I were asleep in bed so we had no idea.

These toys arrived from Santa and that was all we needed to know.

Poor Dad would have had weeks, though. toiling away in his workshop, after a hard day at his paid work, getting everything ready.


To this day I still enjoy the occasional game of Dominoes. As a child this game was played regularly as there was much less choice of games. Our childhood Domino set was brilliant though, as the spots were coloured to help very young children who could not count. I can still remember the colours, these were:-

  • Red for a 6
  • Yellow for a 5
  • Blue for a 4
  • Green for a three
  • Orange for a two
  • White for a one.

I still have this set of Dominoes stored in an old trunk and still with their original box. Obviously the beauty of these was the age of those playing the game was less important. For those would could not yet count game of Dominoes was as easy as matching the colours.

Playing Cards

My early card games then have also moved to my adult years although I do not play cards as much as I used to. However I still occasionally enjoy a game of cards.

As children, Snap, Happy Families or Concentration were my favourites. A gang of us children also used to play gambling card games such as New-Market, Brag and Black-Jack. Yes we used to bet but for strange stakes.

The Father of one of my friends had a stock of formica tile samples which were just a little larger than an actual playing card. So this was our betting chip and boy did we have fun. We took it so seriously you would have thought that we were actually playing for money.

Board Games

With no computers board games were popular. They may sound fairly basic these days but many are still enjoyed though often played on a computer device now.

Snakes and Ladders was also a firm favourite when I was a child. The game seemed endless if you kept sliding down the snakes and offered hours of entertainment. Other favourites were Draughts and Ludo.


What would a little girl be without her dolly?

Of course there were no Cindy or Barbie dolls when I was young.

My favourite doll was called Diana. As one of the first walkie talkie type of dolls she must have cost my parents an arm and a leg. I loved Diana to bits.

She was a lot like the doll in the images of this Hub. However she was doomed for a terrible fate.

Our home was small and Diana was resting in her small pram in our tiny kitchen one day when Mum reached up to take a pan from the shelf above and disaster struck. She dropped the pan and smashed Diana's pot head.

Diana was taken to the Doll's Hospital, which yes did actually exist back then, but she was never quite the same again. Her replacement head just did not look quite right. Poor Diana.

Free Toys

In the fifties and sixties there were also many Free toys.

These were not really free but they were given away with products such as breakfast cereals. My brother's favourite freebie was a plastic submarine that was powered by baking powder. This toy was a prize possession for many years.

Children's comics such as the Beano and Dandy also gave away gifts. All of these were actually with the product.

You did not have to send away for any gifts just buy the product. The toy boat, or whatever, was in your packet of cereal, for example.

My personal favourite was a triangular shaped piece of card which, when waved through the air, made a loud crack. Great for making adults jump. Cheap and cheerful I know but a great favourite with kids.


Of course there were lots more toys. Money may have been tight but, as they say, necessity is the mother of invention.

Hand made toys were rife and we were never short of games to play.

Street skipping and ball games were played daily. With less street crime parents felt able to let their children get outside and have some fun.

Most boys from that era had home made Bogey carts, which were wheeled vehicles, made from old crates with old pram wheels attached. These carts were anything from the sublime to the ridiculous. Races were held up and down streets, and the boys involved were revered as some type of hero.

Happy Days.

© 2009 Ethel Smith


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