I spent my teenage years growing up in a housing commission estate south-west of Brisbane. One of my fondest memories of that time is of the local playground that was just a stone's throw from my place. It was run by the Playground and Recreation Association of Queensland, an organisation that was founded in 1913 and which had as its champion (Mary) Josephine Bedford.
One of the earlier playgrounds was the Spring Hill playground that opened in 1927, and in 1956 it was officially named the Bedford Playground in memory of Josephine Bedford who had passed away in the previous year.
The following photograph shows children at the playground in 1939.
(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #106347)
I can remember when my local playground started back in the late fifties. A tall wire fence with lockable gates surrounded a bare and dusty area in which had magically appeared swings, a roundabout, monkey bars, a cement cricket pitch and later, a few bitumen tennis courts. The Association erected a hall in which indoor games of table tennis and badminton could be played, as well as chess, draughts and other board games. It also had a collection of footballs, cricket bats, softball bats, tennis rackets, hockey sticks and the associated paraphernalia for kids' games. The playground was staffed by a wonderful couple called Mr & Mrs Connellan, who did everything posssible to ensure that the place was a safe and happy environment for kids of both sexes and all ages. They were referees, child-minders, advice-givers and even table tennis partners, and I'm sure that many children and parents of the district owe them a debt of gratitude for their splendid and tireless work. Looking back now, I marvel at how different life was for kids. We would turn up at the playground and effortlessly slot into a game of cricket or touch footy and play for hours. Of course computers, Playstations and iPads were the stuff of science fiction movies back then.
(Photo: © 2013 the foto fanatic)
The photograph above shows the Bedford Playground at Spring Hill today. The hot, grassless environment that I recall from my local playground is not evident here - this playground has been softened by the addition of bark chips and shade cloth. The playground equipment, in glorious technicolor, is a far cry from the bare steel swings of my youth. Hooray for that! It looks like a great place for kids to hang out - but on the day I visited (during school holidays), it was deserted.
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