Carts and Scooters

The Grand Prix of skinned knuckles and knees.

By Ted Blowers

As we got older we built carts, and scooters - quite clever really. We would get ball bearings from somewhere. If it was scooter, you only needed two. The wood the nails and tools would be acquired from some adult - most dads had tools of some sort. The front of the scooter would be a piece of wood with a groove cut out of the bottom to accommodate the wheel, which had another piece of wood driven through it holding the centre rigid. This was then attached to the bottom of the front piece by any means possible. On the  top of the bottom piece, a block of wood would be secured, reinforced with a bracket. Into the front piece you would then put two screw eyes and also  two into the block of wood just above or just below the ones in the front piece. You would then insert a bolt long enough to go through the four screw eyes with a washer and two nuts - one to hold it on and one to lock it. The bottom would have the wheel attached in the same way - just secured from the underside to stop your weight from popping it off.

We would take turns on tearing down the slope from Tweeddale School..

The carts were made in a similar fashion, except the bit you sat on rested on the front wooden axle  so the bolt to enable steering had to go through both pieces of wood. We often achieved the hole-making  by finding a piece of metal, getting it red hot and burning it through. When the cart  or carts were ready (as they were usually a joint effort) we would take turns on tearing down the slope from Tweeddale  School to Waltham Road, or, if we had more than one, it would of course be races. Also in this melee would be roller skates. Few families had the money to buy more then one pair so again, if someone had a pair, it was usually shared with a sibling - one each (being the way kids' minds work).  As they were left and right, this caused problems resolved by using a book to sit on, lifting your legs balancing for as long as possible, while you tore down the hill until you fell off or crashed into someone else on a cart. Grazed knees and skinned knuckles were the order of the day. Today you would have to have knee pads, elbow pads, and a crash helmet if they let you do it at all.

One really dangerous thing we did - someone found an old tyre off of a lorry and someone would curl themselves around the inside and then, when he was balanced, he would be pushed downhill until it fell over or hit something. I can remember this being done only a couple of times. The kids were pushed down Titchfield Road starting at Rushen Walk. They rarely fell over until they had crossed Waltham Road. It was a good job there was no traffic in our day. That game didn’t seem to last long. Maybe the injuries were bad enough that some grown-up put a stop to it, or maybe they just ran out of volunteers for the middle of the tyre. I know I wouldn’t go.

This page was added by Ted Blowers on 26/09/2010.
Comments about this page

Very good description by Ted on the making of scooters. I too have wondered where we scrounged ball bearings from, but we did....also some lads would have two 'handlebars' to steer with, the bottom one was used for races! Also decorative studs would be fixed to the front..or a number painted on.

By Ray Crawley
On 14/02/2012

We used to make our ball bearing wheel scooters. I used to like the noise they made, they were good fun until the front wheel went down a gap in the paving slabs, then over the handle bars you went, done that loads of times. Ha ha.

By Les Furnell
On 27/03/2014

When my brother and I were kids on the estate, we would get a big thick book on a skate and slide down the end of Thornton Road to the bottom of the slope up to the Circle.  How we didn't end up under a bus I don't know.  Good job my mum didn't know, she would have had kittens.

By Brenda Clark nee Stuart
On 09/04/2014

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