Offbeat

By Hayley Pugh


With Christmas just around the corner and parents set to splash out hundreds of pounds on must-have gifts for their children, these enchanting snaps take us back to a simpler time when youngsters used bin lids and wooden sticks as entertainment….and there’s not an iPad in sight.

 Mary Evans Picture Library/Caters News: A little boy sits on his new wooden horse with his teddy bear, while a little girl with ribbons in her hair clutches her new toys. Date: circa 1940

The charming black and white portraits date back to the early 20th century right up until the 1970s.

The collection, taken by a host of photographers, show carefree children playing in their homes and on the streets all over the UK.

Long before Playstations, Furbies and Tamagotchi, Teletubbies, Hatchimals and fidget spinners, Christmas toys were well-made and well-loved, often serving generations of children in one family.

 Mary Evans Picture Library/Caters News: A little boy and girl sit underneath the Christmas tree with all their new toys. Date: circa 1940

Researchers at the Mary Evans Picture Library recently discovered a hidden file containing this delightful selection of photographs reminding us of some of the most classic toys from the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

From exquisite rocking horses to gleaming pedal cars, porcelain-faced dolls to building blocks, these heart-warming images show toys that were built to last, made with love and carefully played with.

Mary Evans Picture Library/Caters News: A two year old boy sponges down the bonnet of his Tri.Ang pedal car. Date: 1960s

One picture, taken on a street in Balham, South West London, shows one boy playing with a homemade bow and arrow, while his two friends use bin lids as shields and sticks as swords.

Other delightful snapshots show two girls riding hobby horses, a boy looking delighted with a very simple train set and a little girl happily pushing her dolly around in a pram in 1905.

Mary Evans Picture Library/Caters News: Three children pose for a picture while crammed into a rather complex and expensive looking toy car. Date: circa 1910

Meanwhile a picture taken in September 1915 shows a young girl hosting a teddy bear’s picnic and it’s boys versus girls on a 1930’s makeshift see-saw.

The enchanting images are a stark contrast to the children of today, who are set to receive high tech laser games, mobile phones and pricey Hatchimals for Christmas this year.