St Fagans National History Museum

Hoop and Hook

[image: Hoop and Hook]

In 1958 plastic hoola hoops created an instant craze when 20 million were sold in the first year. However, ancient Egyptian tomb paintings show children played with hoops as long ago as 2,500 BC. During the 19th century the local village blacksmith made hoops out of iron for the children. Sometimes, they would ask the Cooper for a hoop which he would remove from an old wooden barrel or a bucket!

The Blacksmith, however, chose a long, slender iron rod from some he had ready. He measured it and cut it off to the right length. He hammered the rod on the anvil causing sparks to fly. It curved gradually until the two ends met in a circle. Then he put it in the fire until it was red hot. Then he hammered it together into one round piece to form a hoop. He placed it to cool in cold water while he made the hook or 'bowly'.

Then the blacksmith took the hoop out of the water, he gave it a few taps here and there and then he threw it out through the door of the Smithy. The children then had to chase after it down the road. The first child to catch it would claim it as his or her own unless of course someone else had paid the Blacksmith for it!