logo - Join me in the 1900s mid C20th
The webmaster, Pat Cryer, as a young child

Random recollections
of 1940s England

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I was a young child when the events and observations of these recollections occurred.

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Solid tyres on children's bicycles

child's tricycle with solid rubber tyres, 1940s Britain

Solid rubber tyres on a child's tricycle, courtesy of Laurie Prior with permission from Anticuario Antiques, Glasgow.

Note that the tricycle has no brakes. It probably had a 'fixed wheel' so that braking was by stopping the peddles going round by attempting to back-pedal.

In the late 1940s, when I must have been six or seven years old, I was given a two-wheeler bicycle as a cast-off. The fact that it was a cast-off is important for the point I am about to make because it probably relates more to the 1930s or even earlier, as so little was new in the war and the years of austerity afterwards. The bicycle had solid rubber tyres, i.e. they did not blow up with a bicycle pump.

In my childhood in the 1940s I had a tricycle with solid rubber tyres. Only "posh" ones had tyres that pumped up.

Laurie Prior

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Deposits on soft drink bottles

The most popular soft drink seemed to be Tizer, although there were others. They were sold in glass bottles and at the time of purchase a deposit was charged on the bottle. There was not a lot of spare money around. So we children would guard our empty bottles and collect any that were thrown away, until we had enough to buy a full bottle.

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Red squirrels

In my childhood in the 1940s it was entirely normal to see red squirrels scampering around; not a grey squirrel was ever in sight. This was in the relatively rural areas of north London.

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ice skating

In the very harsh winter of 1947, crowds of people went ice-skating on the local pond. I am now confident that it must have been dangerous to commit the weight of so many people to pond ice, but apparently they got away with it.

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The best time to have been born and grow up

I believe that I was extremely lucky to grow up in the 1940s and early 1950s. Life never felt hard, and children were provided with the best possible of advantages:

If you can add anything to this page or provide a photo, I would be pleased to hear from you.

Pat Cryer, webmaster

A few years earlier and my generation would have been required to risk their lives fighting; there would have been no NHS, no free grammar schools, and no grants for university. There was a period of turmoil after the war while things were settling down. So our education would surely have suffered.

A few years later, with the deterioration of grants, I doubt if my father would ever have afforded to send me to university. I have been very lucky and am all too aware that others were less so.

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This website Join me in the 1900s is a contribution to the social history of everyday life in 20th century Britain from the early 1900s to about 1960, seen through personal recollections and illustrations, with the emphasis on what it was like to live in those times.