Childhood memories: Blue Raleigh Chopper

Here, Paul Hallows from SWit’CH (Swinton Writers in t’Critchley House) remembers being the coolest kid on the block with his bike. 

The 80s, that was the era I grew up in. I lived in a bungalow with my mum and dad at the time.

My dad was in a wheelchair after having a hard battle with lung and spine cancer. What a fighter he was! Given six weeks to live by the doctor in 1979 when I was born, he lived till 2007.

One of my earliest memories as a child was when I was about six or seven years old. I was given my first bike by my Uncle Bill. It was originally going to be given to another boy, the son of some friends of my uncles.

Anyway, to cut a long story short, the boy didn’t want it as he said it was too old fashioned.

The lady asked my uncle, my dad’s brother who was one of seven children, if he knew anyone who would appreciate it. So he suggested me.

Raleigh Chopper- WwwFrank, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

When I was given the present, I was over the moon and when I showed it to my mates, I was like the coolest kid ever. The bike was a Chopper.

They are normally in red but mine was a special one – it was blue. I started off on stabilisers until I was ready to have them taken off. I used to ride around the streets with my friends, sometimes having races.

Learning to ride helped me gain a badge in the scouts as well. The Cyclist Proficiency Badge. I had to learn all sorts of hand signals like turning left or right, slowing down and all sorts of things.

There was a lot to learn. I also learnt how to mend a puncture and lots of other useful skills.

Every year when I was in the cub scouts, aged eight to ten and a half years old, we used to enter into a carnival in Little Hulton and Walkden. There was a prize for the best float. We used to decorate a trailer of a truck with different themes every time.

One year, we were Vikings in a longboat. We had to dress up as well. We had big oars that were stuck through holes at the side of the boat which were moveable so it looked like we were rowing the boat.

Another time we were Knights of the Round Table. We won that year. We won a shield which is still displayed in a cabinet at Worsley swimming baths with the name of our group, 3rd Worsley.

It was a really big event and the locals used to come out of their houses and wave at us. It was great fun.

Check out more nostalgia by local people like you here. 

Do you have memories that you’d like to share with our readers? Drop us an email at [email protected]

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