Category Archives: Newsreel Playgrounds

Newsreel – Upside Down at Dennis the Menace Park

Back when PlayGroundology was a baby in early 2010, I ran across a great Facebook page called, I played at Dennis the Menace Park and lived! The intrigue was too much for me to resist. I quickly got in touch with page administrator and creator, Daniel Annereau to find out more about one of America’s first ‘extreme’ playgrounds. You can read that story here.

Imagine my excitement yesterday when I came across this film footage featuring the ‘helicopter’ ride, aka spinny thing of death. The 36 second clip starts pretty innocuously but the last 10 seconds or so pack a real punch with risky behaviour galore.

This is the playground that I would have loved to visit as a kid. I can imagine myself hanging upside down although I’m not sure I would have had the guts of the upside downer kid in the film.

Dennis the Menace Park in Monterey, California was an early example of a destination playground. Designer Arch Garner outdid himself on this project conceived by Dennis creator Hank Ketchum. Kids couldn’t get enough of it and who could blame them.

Newsreel Playgrounds – British Pathé

Thanks to the assignment editors, producers and cinematographers at British Pathé for this selection of playgroundabilia ranging from 1939 to 1967 in various UK locales.

Click on the image to be taken to the play page. Clips can be played at full screen and each has a detailed shot list. Enjoy and thanks again to British Pathé for making their inventory available for public viewing.

Hold on tight, there is royalty, glitterati from both sides of the pond and of course plenty of kids starring in these reels.

Bolton Schoolyard Playground – 1939 – Runtime: 00:50

South Bank, London – 1953 – Runtime: 01:24

Come Out To Play, Reel 1 – 1950-59 – Runtime: 06:11

Come Out To Play, Reel 2 – 1950-59 – Runtime: 06:56

Adventure Playground, Crawley, West Sussex – 1967 – Runtime: 01:46