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What the hell happened to death slides?

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Tom Fordy
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You have to expect a bit of rough and tumble at the playground – the odd grazed knee, a few tears, an occasional dirtied t-shirt.

What you don’t want, however, is full-on broken neck after plummeting down old school favourite, the death slide.

You read that right, the DEATH SLIDE. Not really a slide, but a sheer vertical drop from which children were encouraged to hurl themselves, like idiot lemmings who don’t know any better because they’re all high on sugar. 

See here, another child tumbling down the death slide without a second’s thought about the funeral costs

Credit: Imgur

They could have been 5ft or 50ft high. Either way, they were equally lethal. And we loved it.

The deadly contraption is officially called a ‘drop slide’, but that doesn’t quite do it justice, doesn’t have the same ring to it.

And any Eighties or Nineties kid who’s ever ridden (survived) one will know full well how it got the its moniker. Teetering on the edge of some ungodly height, ready to step onto literally nothing and allow gravity drag you to your fate – maybe immense fun, maybe a jumble of shattered bones – was like peering down the barrel of your own mortality. Heavy shit when you’re seven years old.

Look at this poor little sod clinging on for dear life

Credit: Kidzworld

Of course, like a man who, not content with staring death in the face, has to give him a nipple twister and call him a big girl’s blouse, we couldn’t help but plunge down the slide.

Call it bravado, call it pride, call it having absolute shit for brains when you’re that age, but the temptation to jump down the death slide was too much resist.

Just some eight-year-olds there contemplating whether they’ve led worthwhile lives

Credit: YouTube

These days, you might occasionally see one in those pictures of old abandoned playgrounds that look like post-apocalyptic wastelands, but otherwise death slides are few and far between.

So, you may very well be asking, just what the blazes happened to these contraptions of chaos?

Since the slide’s heyday, health and safety legislation has improved greatly (political correctness gone mad) and it would only have taken a couple of snapped legs or children skewered through the neck on their lollipop sticks for the death slide to be banished forever. One 26ft death slide at Wildwood in Kent closed for adjustments after little more than a month in 2011, following a number of “heavy landings”. 

Look at the state of this one, with fancy handles and protective clothing – lightweights

Credit: Planet Air Sports

They do still exist at some (supervised) parks and play centres, but most seem to come with some sort of bungee and safety harness, proving what we’ve known all along – kids these days just can’t hack it. They wouldn’t have lasted five minutes in the old days, back when playgrounds were proper and you were up for giving yourself permanent brain damage in the name of fun.

Could someone check if this one’s dead? That’d be great.

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Tom Fordy

Tom Fordy is a London-based writer. He is former men's magazine editor and is now works as a lifestyle and entertainment journalist and opinionated beard for hire. His interests include the great literary works of the 20th century, New Wave European cinema and the career of Hulk Hogan. Follow Tom on Twitter: @TheTomFordy

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