The  Americans termed it “The Witches Hat”   by  IpohBornKid

Introductory quote from:

“No; I’m not talking about those sterile plastic lysol-sprayed hunks of crap nestled in a bed of rubbery soft nerfy flooring. I’m talking aboutreal playgrounds. The kind we grew up with, the kind that mangled us and taught us life lessons. Playgrounds deemed too dangerous for today’s wussy youth, which sadly have become a thing of the past.”

The most awesome contraption in the ACS Ipoh primary school playground was the carousel-like equipment and in the US, it has the name “Witches Hat”.  It was located adjacent to the monkey bars in the Primary School (Heritage) building in the 1950s. The equipment was built up of 2 circular metal rings (diameter 4 metres) welded together by 400 cm straight metal bars which gave 8 slots.  The welded circular bands were suspended by metal rods/or chains (6-8 of them) to a central iron pole which lifted it to about 1 metre above ground but not too high so that a young boy of six can jump up a bit and grab the bottom circular ring .  The design was very similar to the one illustrated in the picture above.

There were two possible motions of the witches hat.  It can rotate horizontally with the axle represented by the large iron pole and it also swing (yaw) from side to side.  The angle of the swing was about 45 degrees and this maximum was reached when the circular ring touched the central pole.

To get on the witches hat, one had to jump a little bit to grab the lower ring.  The next step was to grab the upper ring.   With your hands firmly on the upper ring, you lifted your body up and move one of your foot in between the two rings.  With both legs in, you were then able to sit on the lower ring and your two hands holding the upper rings tightly.  Not long after you have settled in, the boys on the ground will rotate the ring and if you did not hold tight, you will be thrown off by the centripetal force to the ground and be injured.

For the more experience boys, they can do two things.  First, they could stand up on the lower or upper ring with their hands holding the suspending chain.At the same time, they could also swing the ring (yawing motion) and tried to hit the axle pole thus making a clanking noise.  Just imagine the horror when you were a novice on the ring.  The rotating ring would tried to throw you off whilst the swingding action would pulverise your legs.  Whilst the ring was swinging, you had better get off or you stand on the rings.

Secondly, as the ring rotated, boys can be seen hooking their legs at the bottom ring (like the trapeze in a circus) and loved the thrill of being swung around with their face outside the rings and arms hanging down.

The witches hat was not designed for swinging and yet ACS boys found a way to intimidate younger novice on the witches hat by frightening them off the ring.  Hence, swinging violently and increased velocity of the spins was a way of the “king” of the witches hat.

I fell off a few times when the violent swings and rotation started.  If I had remained, I would have injured myself.  Six months later, I was standing with the “kings” defying their attempts to throw me off.

An American experience is very similar to those experience in Ipoh ACS:

The idea behind these was simple – you and a friend (or multiple friends) grabbed opposite ends of the ring and ran in the same direction until you got whipped off the ground. Of course, that would be too easy; so instead you always tried to pair up people of very different sizes for each side, so it would be off balance and one side would be flown up in the air from the other people’s weight. Another important lesson in physics; often followed by a lesson in first aid.

Looking back, the witches hat was quite tough playground equipment.  It looked innocent enough but it was not.  It took courage and determination to stand up in the ring and most of the time, the bigger boys controlled the motion of the ring.  That was rough and tough ACS playground equipment.  Today, I still maintain that the witches hat was an awesome piece of playground equipment which was not designed for duels of supremacy but ACS boys found a way to make it more interesting.  It was almost a jungle then – survival of the fittest.  Lastly, it is definitely an American import since ACS was founded by American missionaries.