Wicksteed Park is an amusement park near Kettering in Northamptonshire. It is rare in that it is an amusement park which is owned by a registered charity, Wicksteed Trust and run by Wicksteed Park Ltd – a company wholly owned by the trust.
The concept for the amusement park can be dated back to 1913 when Charles Wicksteed purchased some land with the intention of turning it into a model village. He had a vision of creating an open space with safe parkland for families to enjoy. One of the reasons he was so passionate about this was due to the fact that many families lived in houses which had no gardens at the time meaning that the children had no alternative but to play out in the street.
Charles Wicksteed also owned a successful engineering company and he began to manufacture park seats and park equipment which were quickly taken up by amusement parks across Europe and which can still be found today. As a result, he was also able to attract visitors to his own amusement park from far and wide.
Another historical point of interest about this amusement park is that as well as being one of the oldest amusement parks in the UK, its Water Chute is the oldest working ride of any amusement park in the UK. Dating back to 1926, it went through a major renovation in 2002 and is still in operation at the amusement park today.
The amusement park’s narrow gauge railway is also one of its most endearing features and it spans the entire amusement park around the lake shore and through the arena attractions areas. Since its introduction in 1931, it is estimated that well over 15 million visitors have taken a ride on the train which was the last feature to be added before Charles Wicksteed died.
The amusement park is broadly divided into 4 themed areas. The Fairground is home to the Fun Palace Arcade and mainly features rides aimed at children up to around the age of 14. The Lakeside naturally features water rides and other attractions including the famous Waterchute as well as the Bumper Boats and Nautic Jets. The Arena is home to the amusement park’s more thrill seeking rides like Ladybird Coaster, Revolving Paratrooper and the latest ride – the Rocky River Falls.
There is also the Playground which you’ll find upon immediately entering the amusement park. It’s noted for being one of the largest and best free playgrounds in the whole of Europe and is open all year round. However, the rides and some other attractions are only operational during certain times of the year so check the amusement park’s website before travelling.
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