Biking on bomb sites


By: Robin

Pippa: Were there other kids that lived on your street – did you ever play out with them?

Robin: Oh yeah, because St. Matthews Piece was just 50 yards away. And we’d have football matches. In the summer cricket matches. We’d ride our bikes there I was taught to ride my bike. And it was one of those situations where my dad ran behind and held on the saddle. And the next minute, you’re pedalling and there was no dead they’re holding on and you thought ‘Oh, this is good, I can ride a bike! Yeah.’

Pippa: And how old were you when you learnt to ride a bike?

Robin: I dunno, about seven I guess, yeah. Before that we had like tricycle things. Three wheel pedal bikes, you know, before you got the balance, before you were old enough to balance properly on a proper bike.

Oh, there used to be in Vicarage Terrace, it was bombed during the war, it killed three people I think including the baby. But when I was 8, 9, 10 it still hadn’t been built on. It was a bomb site, basically, and we’d play on the bomb site. Couldn’t imagine kids doing that these days. A lot of the rubble was gone, but most of it anyway.

Pippa: What would you play on the bomb site, what games would you play?

Robin: Well, I suppose soldiers and cowboys and things like that you know. Yeah there were sort of piles of soil and there was slopes and things which made it quite nice to play on. Yeah.

Pippa: Did you ride your bike down the slopes?

Robin: Sometimes Yeah. But I also built a I used to go scramble racing with some a friend and his parents to I made my own scramble track cos my dad was a carpenter and he built built sheds. So there’s lots of timber about so I built wooden slopes, and I used to ride as fast as I could up to it, hit the slope at the top and come off bang!

Pippa: And was that on Vicarage Road?

Robin: Sturton Street

Pippa: On Sturton Street

Robin: Yeah

Emma: And did anybody get hurt?

Robin: Oh yeah

Emma: Any scars, memorable scars?

Robin: No memorable scars, just cuts and grazes that did get better, you know.

Pippa: You wouldn’t you wouldn’t change it.

Robin: Oh, no. I think children are mollycoddled these days but there’s a certain fear of letting them out isn’t you know, they wouldn’t do that nowadays. They wouldn’t allow kids to go out and play out up half the rec for four hours something, three or four hours…

Pippa: How were you when you were allowed to go out then? Were you allowed out when you were quite young?

Robin: Probably. I had an older brother who would ;ook out for me, you know? Yeah, I think kids went out with their brothers, big brothers and some of the sisters who were as hard as their brothers. Yeah

Pippa: Would you go out in the morning and come back to the afternoon or just come back when you were hungry?

Robin: Oh we’d come back home when we were hungry. We’d play football on the rec and sometimes Mum would come in get us ‘Your dinner’s ready.’

Pippa: Was that at Sturton Rec? Or was that…?

Robin: Yes that was Sturton Street Rec.


Interviewed by Pippa Hale and Emma Bearman, May 2023

Biking on bomb sites
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