Springs of Joy

Recalling Australia's 1960s Playground Revolution

Do you remember the excitement of a new toy?

Australia in the 1960s was another world. In an era which was marked by the excitement of technological innovation, particularly the ‘Space Race’ mission to land on the moon, innovation was the key to childhood joy. The streets of Australia’s small towns rang out with children’s laughter, the sounds of skipping and hopscotch in the streets, and the rattle of new toys on pavements.

This innovative toy was the brainchild of artist-turned-engineer Christopher John Daniels who, along with his brother Jack Daniels, established Precision Springs Pty LTD in Sydney, in 1947.

The curved crossbar of the bike is designed to compress under a child’s weight, allowing a springing motion which propels the bicycle forward. With no need for pedals, it is perfect for young children and allowed them to safely practice balance through play.

This red bike was donated by a Mrs Pat Frend and restored by Mr Ric Brown of Matheson. Other models are black or brown, so it is speculated that the vivid red hue may have been hand painted, appealing to a child’s sense of wonder.

While Precision Springs initially focused on ‘the business of general engineers and manufacturers of springs of all types,’ the Daniels brothers’ inventive creations soon gained popularity. Tumble-bug slinkies, pogo sticks, and Moon Walker Space Shoes emerged from their workshop and delighted children across Australia. Those toys soon became common sights in the houses and streets of rural towns.

Competition from overseas producers stopped the production of this bicycle in the late 1960s. Today, this object stands as a testament to the inventive spirit of play it once brought to the streets of New South Wales.