logo - Join me in the 1900s early C20th
Florence Cole as a child

Hula hoops and iron hoops:
toys of bygone times

YOU ARE HERE: home > leisure

Boys and girls both used to play with hoops, but they had different types.


Children playing with old metal hoops

This photo taken at the Black Country Museum photo shows the boys' metal hoops with their rods attached. However as it is a modern photo girls are playing with the hoops alongside boys whereas my mother clearly states that such hoops were only used by boys in her Edwardian childhood.

Being a modern photo the girl's face has been blurred.

Hoops for boys

The boys had iron hoops. They would start the hoops with their hands then run with them, using a sort of large hook to keep the hoops trundling along. The photos show the hooks, but unfortunately none are as clear as they might be.

You have to look quite carefully into the photo on the right to see the hook, but it is there if you look closely.

The first of the next photos shows an iron hoop hanging up in a museum, but it is unfortunately partially obscured by wooden stilts.

The second photo has the handle cropped away.

The third photo shows two hoops but unfortunately a rope and curtains detract from the hoops.

Three examples of iron hoops, two from West Somerset Rural Life Museum and one from The Museum of Nottingham Life.

Iron hoop with its rod-like attachment, as used by boys in the early 1900s, with wooden stilts placed in front.

Iron hoop with its rod-like attachment, as used by boys in the early 1900s.

Two iron hoops with their rod-like attachments, as used by boys in the early 1900s.

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

Pat Cryer, webmaster

to top of page

Hoops for girls - hula hoops

For girls there were wooden hoops in various sizes. We just called them hoops but I understand that their full name was hula hoops.

The girls placed the hoops round their waists and rotate the lower parts of their bodies to keep the hoops going. The winner was the girl who kept her hoop going longest.

The girls would also use their hands or sticks to beat the hoops along the pavement, with whoever kept the hoops going furthest being the winner.

Today's hula hoops versus the old wooden hoops

The difference between the old wooden hoops and the ones available today is their weight. The modern ones are light and it is almost impossible to keep them going round the waist.

Pat Cryer, webmaster