When the COVID-19 lockdown of March 2020 started The Dacorum Heritage Trust began a project titled #stockpilingstories. The aim was to help engage children in worthwhile and purposeful educational activities, as well as help reduce the negative impact for elderly people who feel isolated.
Through art activities and writing letters, children were paired with elderly volunteers, to find out what life was like living in Dacorum in the past.
Being a child in the 1950’s and 1960’s was different in many ways. During the 1950’s children played in the street a lot more because there weren’t as many cars and not many households owned a television. Throughout the 1960’s more and more people owned a television but there were fewer TV channels, most TV’s were black and white and programmes were not available all day.
The younger participants were asked to think about the types of questions they would like to ask the older participants. These included: Do you have a favourite childhood recipe you could share? Then they carried out themed activities such as listening to a list of 1950s+60s songs while they coloured in a picture of a jukebox and writing their favourite songs on the jukebox discs. They also played and created their own 1950s+60s themed games like snakes and ladders.
WW2 began when I was 5 and ended when I was11, in fact my eleventh birthday, 15th August 1945 was celebrated throughout the country as VJ Day, victory over Japan, that meant the war was finally over. Although I lived in the country where the war didn’t bother us as much as people who lived in the towns, I do remember what it was like to live in wartime.My favourite presents were a blue cot for my dolls and books. School started at 9.00 and we went home at 3.30. I played in the fields on my own when I was 7. We played skipping, The Farmers in his Den, In and Out the Scottish Bluebells and lots more. When I grew up I loved to dance The Twist. – Janet Goacher
Childhood play. I was evacuated to Thame, Oxfordshire from London when it was bombed during the second World War. She was seven years old. She played with a hoop, rolling it along with a stick. She also played hopscotch, a numbered grid chalked on the floor and a stone was thrown to land on each numbered square and hopped and skipped to the end and back again. Then threw the stone onto the next numbered square, till all the numbers have been used. – Audrey Bennett
Another game I played was five stones, where one stone is thrown up in the air while the first stone is picked up, this goes on till all five stones are picked up. I played with a whip and top, wrapping a string or whip round the top then pulling it away quickly to make the top spin. I played marbles in the street because there was next to no petrol to run cars due to rationing because of the War – Audrey Bennett
Favourite 1950s song list Audrey Bennett In the Mood by Glen Miller, When I Fall in Love by Nat King Cole, Beyond the Sea by Bobby Darin
Favourite 1960s song list Gill MullinsSweet Caroline by Neil Diamond, House of the Rising Sun by the Animals, Hard Day’s Night by the Beatles
“As a child much of the leisure time was spent playing in the open fields and on and around the old railway (Nickey) line, also along the Canal and streams, in Gadebridge Park.” - Henry Allen
“Hemel Hempstead was a much smaller town then with aprox 20,000 people compared to. The 120,000 today. Many of the open fields are now housing estates. Motor vehicles were much fewer back then and the bus and bicycle were the main forms of transport.Television and telephones were few.” - Henry Allen
Favourite 1960s song list Henry Allen
We moved from Liverpool to Chaulden in 1955. Myself and other children from Hemel Hempstead area would take the Number 347 bus to and back from school each day. Most of us children would walk quite a lot because It was only a lucky few whose parents owned a car. – Joan Allen
When I left school in 1958 aged 15yrs I got my first job as a telephonist at what was then called Boxmoor Exchange. In them days you could not press buttons to make a call. People had to dial O for the operator (me) and tell me the number of the person that they wanted to talk to and I would connect them to their required number if it was free. If the number was engaged (in use) I would call them back later when I could connect them. Many people did not have telephones in their homes and had to walk to a street that had a telephone box. The boxes where all painted red in them days and had books which contained people’s name, address and telephone number.– Joan Allen
Another game I liked was two balls, we would have two tennis balls and throw them at the brick wall and we had several different ways of doing this for example, throw under arm, over arm, clapping between catches and bouncing the ball under our leg and up to the wall or putting our throwing arm behind our backs and aiming the ball at the wall before catching it. We played hopscotch or skipping and also with our ropes we would throw it over the bars on the street lights and run round the lamp post then lift our feet up and swing back the other way like you see on Maypoles. We also played with marbles, throwing them along the sidewalk gutters, if you hit another person’s marble you would win it. I have to tell you that children didn’t get many toys to play with in 1953. We usually got a present on our birthday and at Christmas we got things like colouring books and pencils, perhaps a boxed game, an album of our favourite comic, the Dandy and the Beano where popular at this time, some sweets and fruit and I often got a new shiny penny. .– Joan Allen