The place where playgrounds were born

Home to thirty rides and activities, one of Europe’s longest zip wires and 147 acres of stunning parkland, Wicksteed Park has become the go-to family destination in Northamptonshire for nearly 100 years.

A park wouldn’t be what we know without a playground, and 2018 marks the centenary year for the first piece of playground apparatus manufactured by Wicksteed. To celebrate the last 100 years, let’s take a look at the history behind Wicksteed Park and where playgrounds were born.

A belief that became a huge hit

It all began with a man who is now known as “The Pioneer of the Playground”, Charles Wicksteed. Charles had a garden that his children could play in and he believed that all children should have a place to play that wasn’t on the streets. In 1913, he bought a piece of land in Kettering to create a space that was safe for children to play on; that piece of land is now what we call Wicksteed Park.

Charles was a manufacturer of engineering equipment, and by using his knowledge and imagination 5 years later, he created the first piece of play equipment for the park: a wooden slide. Later came the roundabout, the outdoor rocking horse, the witches hat and more!

“I care more for children than grass” - Charles Wicksteed.

The first play equipment factory

With his play apparatus proving popular, Wicksteed soon turned part of his engineering operation over to mass producing the play equipment. What was once just a hobby to make children smile and play had now become a huge business for Charles.

This was the first factory of its kind in the world and quickly started exporting to over 80 countries. Still to this day, the factory is in use creating equipment for playgrounds across the globe.

Modernising the traditional playground

Wicksteed Park as we know it today is much more than a traditional playground. It’s now bursting with exciting rides, some of which were invented by Charles Wicksteed himself, such as the famous water chute, which many modern log flumes are based on.

Although what was once a traditional playground has now become a huge attraction with thrilling rides, 100 years later the belief that the park should be a safe place to play still remains. All of the rides receive regular maintenance to ensure they are suitable for use.

To celebrate the park's heritage, Wicksteed Park have taken it back to basics and have recreated the famous wooden slide, and children still love it just the same. In fact, many children still say they find playgrounds more fun than electronic games, and we’re sure Charles would be smiling if he could hear that.

Whether you’re booking a family day out to use all of the attractions the park has to offer and see some of the pieces Charles invented, or you’d like to enquire about private function room hire, visit our website to find out more. Alternatively, drop us an email and the team will be in touch.