Because there was no TV back then, families had to find their own forms of amusement and since most free time was in the evenings,
inside games were a major source of this.
Childrens games were not limited by any formal rules; every district had their own set of limits.
Billy-carts were things that only fortunate kids were able to build. If a baby had just graduated from a pram and it was no loner needed, half the battle was won: wheels were the
major requirement, and pram wheels were ideal. Larger wheels such as bike wheels tended to collapse when cornering, and smaller wheels didn't give enough ground clearance or speed. Wood for the
frame was usually available from discarded boxes and crates. The hardware, including nuts, bolts, washers and string were a bit more difficult unless your father happened to work in a
A fine-looking billy-cart like this would be the envy of every kid in the neighbourhood, and would guarantee the owner great prestige and authority. This one even has a handbrake! Every one I rode on
had only a footbrake, operated by placing your foot against a wheel or scraping it on the ground!
Tin can stilts were made by piercing the bottoms of two cans in two places and making a loop of string between the two holes in each can for handles. The child was then able to walk on the tins just like stilts.
Kites were made by most boys at some stage, usually from two sticks cut from nearby willow trees or similar and with newspaper for covering, and a long string tail with pieces of newspaper tied along it for stability. As a general rule, the longer the tail, the more stable the kite was in flight.
The box kite was a bit more difficult and usually needed adult help to construct, but when built properly they were more stable and could fly in lighter winds than flat ones.
Guy Fawkes night November the 5th is Guy Fawkes' day and the night is known as Bonfire Night, which commemorates the day that Guy Fawkes was captured while preparing to blow up the British Houses of Parliament in 1605.
For several weeks before Bonfire night, all the children and youth of the town would spend most of their free time dragging branches of trees from the nearby woods to form a giant bonfire in a field. Welcome additions to the pile were car tyres and other combustible items. On Bonfire Night, just before dark, an effigy of Guy Fawkes, made by one of the locals, would be brought and placed on the pile and paper placed at the base. As dark approached, so did the children, most carrying boxes or bags of fireworks to set off when the bonfire was lit. These included skyrockets on a stick, that shot (hopefully) straight up in the air; squids which were like a small skyrocket without a stick; ha'penny and penny-bangers that were small explosive packages with a wick; jumping-jacks that exploded several times and jumped in a different direction with each explosion; and lots of colour-producing fireworks like snowdrops, spangles etc.
For the younger ones there were sparklers, wire sticks with a powder coating at one end that emitted showers of sparks when lit.
Most times, these events were held without a hitch, but occasionally things went wrong. I recall one Bonfire Night at which a skyrocket changed direction and went down into a boy's wellington boot, causing rather nasty burns.
In my childhood, my parents had very little "recreation" time, but somehow found time to take us on family walks to parks and similar places.