What do you remember from your childhood?

No doubt, playing out until all hours out on the streets, out from under your Mum’s feet?

Ever wished you could relive those precious moments?

Then Hoxton Press’ new book Paradise Street is the perfect read. It celebrates the lost art of playing outside featuring a range of photographs that capture the essence of what it was to play out on streets.

The images capture a time before games consoles, mobile phones and junk food diets that keep children these days indoors. Instead this book looks back to a time when cars were a rarity, when children had no choice but to play outside and when the only time you’d come indoors was when your mum called you in.

From games that have been passed down through generations through to the inventive use of everyday objects, the series of photographs in this book, from the early 1930s right through to the late 1970s, appear to show a simpler time and celebrate all that it was to grow up in 20th century Britain.

Lucinda Gosling from the Mary Evans Picture Library has written the introduction and this short extract sums up exactly what is meant by the lost art of playing out…

“Although memories may be coloured by rose-tinted spectacles, an older generation – the baby boomers and the baby boomers’ children – fondly recall long summer afternoons playing outside until the sun faded, or the call came to come in for tea. They experienced a childhood growing up in the open air, with more time spent outdoors than inside. Kids of the seventies might have raced on bikes around cul-de-sacs, or clattered along pavements on roller skates. Their mums and dads remember chalking hopscotch squares on the ground of rattling tin cans while others ran to hide. Babies sat throne-like in prams, parked up in the ‘fresh air’ outside front gates, watched over, perhaps, by an older sibling. Dolls, footballs and skipping ropes made it out onto the street, but playthings were just as likely to be found to hand in immediate surroundings. Children were adaptable and found opportunities to play with sticks, puddles, an old door to make a den, an abandoned car or mattress, a
pit town’s slag heap, a mountainous pile of road chippings, a vertiginous wall to clamber up, or a football pitch in an abandoned brickworks.

Children still play outside but today it is far more likely to be within a structured, dedicated space or under the watchful supervision of adults. Paradise for some was playing out until dark and returning home tired, sated and happy. Paradise Street is
celebration of that feeling, and of the lost art of playing outside.”


Paradise Street is published by Hoxton Mini Press. © The Estate of Shirley Baker/Mary Evans Picture Library, © Paul Kaye Collection/Mary Evans Picture Library

£16.95 from Amazon