The Outside Room was the area where young people could let off steam, play physical games and chill out. The room was usual arranged to include a climbing frame, swings, physical games ( from a vaulting horse to a snooker table) , an inflatable and places for lounging around. Basically what was created as an indoors adventure playground. Over the years the exact mixture varied but the philosophy of providing a place where youngsters could play around as they wanted to did not.
Inflatables were an important part of play at the Blackie and if you click here will take you to a page devoted to inflatables.
The Climbing Frame
Was made out of materials which could be sourced cheaply or ideally for nothing. Scaffolding and boards (from builders), nets & ropes (from the docks), tyres (from garages), old mattresses (from hostels and hospitals), barrels (from pubs & breweries) and so on. The building frame itself was changed regularly, in a summer playscheme weekly, in regular weekly sessions, monthly. And it was designed so it worked for youngsters of all ages from 5 to 15. Below are pictures of young people using the frame.
The Black-E ran playschemes across Liverpool. This included creating outside rooms on a range of sites. Below are photos of a climbing frame built for Stanley House.
Swings and See-Saws
In addition to the climbing frame there were a range of physical activities which would include swings, gymnastics (ranging from a vaulting horse to walking on barrels) and of course the Balloon. Balloons which the Black-E has been making since the late 1960s have a page to themselves. Below are photos of people on swings
As can be seen above swings ranged from those that would take a large number of people to those designed for more sedate use. And there was practically nothing you could not use as a swing.
Below are youngsters showing their athletic prowess.
And of course alongside all this leaping around, this being Liverpool, there was the devotion to ball skills (and improving them) - so from headers to hoops.
The other activities which were an ongoing part of the Outside Room were snooker, table tennis, roller skating, cards and board games, and of course a coffee bar.
Snooker was an extremely popular activity involving youngsters of all ages. BUT the table was dominated by the lads. The Blackie staff decided that there should be one evening a week when the table could only be used by girls. This was not a popular decision and for the next three weeks the snooker table remained unused on the 'girls evenings' with the lads pointing out what a waste this was and couldn't they just have a game if the girls did not want to play. On week 4, as it became clear that either the girls would use the table or it would remain unused, the first girls started to play. Interestingly once the girls realised the table was for them as well as the lads they started to use it on other evenings so that eventually snooker became a shared activity.
Table Tennis & Roller Skating
Games & The Coffee Bar
The Outside Room was not simply just a place for youngsters to play, it was also a place where the staff, volunteers and youngsters socialized. This can be seen in the way they played cards, board games and mobbed the Coffee Bar.