Press Release |

Fifth Annual World Puddle Jumping Championships set to make a splash

Competitors are set to make the biggest splashes on record after the wet summer created the perfect conditions for the fifth annual World Puddle Jumping Championships at Wicksteed Park. This year organisers have even prepared last minute plans to ensure the event isn’t rained off if there are heavy downpours on the already saturated ground. A special series of championship-standard puddles are being created at the park and competitors of all ages will be encouraged to jump in and make a splash, with the competition starting at 11am on Wednesday October 25. Judges will give scores based on things such as height of jump, enthusiasm, distance of splash and stickability (the amount of mud which clings to each competitor). But the majority of marks will be given for the size of a competitor’s splash! The previous biggest splashes were recorded last year, when several competitors managed to reach a distance of more than 12ft but 2017 saw the 11th wettest summer on record, so organisers are hoping for a new world record this year. Event organiser Linda Cottington said: “The last thing we want is for the puddle jumping championships to be called off due to wet weather so we have put special plans in place to try and ensure the puddles are safe to jump in, not too slippery and not too deep. “One thing is for sure though, with all the rain we have had this year, we should be in for some record-breaking splashes ad spectators will have to stand further back than normal to avoid getting soaked! “We are advising competitors to bring a change of clothing as it may...

Bonfire night extravaganza

BONFIRE NIGHT EXTRAVAGANZA AT WICKSTEED PARK The annual Wicksteed Park fireworks extravaganza is returning for a 16th fantastic year, providing a magical event for all the family. Award-winning fireworks champions MLE pyrotechnics, from Daventry, are lighting up the sky above the park on Saturday November 4. Once more, the central feature of the event will be a giant wicker statue, which will come alive with fireworks before being burnt ahead of the main bonfire being lit. This year the statue is based on Herne the Hunter, the horned god and lord of the forest in British mythology. This year’s event is being partnered by Heart and they will be represented by drivetime presenter Gareth Wesley on the night. Musicians from Tresham College will entertain the crowds and music will be supplied by Big Bopper Entertainment. A disco for families is included in the admission price and will be held in the Pavilion straight after the fireworks, until around 10.30pm. Tickets are £5.00 on the night but only £4.50 in advance. All proceeds are re-invested into the park The park is also holding free lantern making workshops for the community during October half term and the lanterns will be used as part of a parade before the bonfire is lit on November 4. The workshops will be held on Monday October 23, Wednesday October 25, Friday October 27 and Saturday October 28 from  noon to 4pm in the park’s heritage space and are suitable for the over eights Children must be accompanied by an adult at all times and the workshops are free but booking is recommended as spaces are limited....

Playground rocking horse delights children once more after being rescued from ditch where it had been dumped and left to rust

One of the oldest surviving playground rocking horses has been restored to its former glory and returned “home” after being rescued from a ditch where it had been abandoned and left to rust. The ride, believed to date back up to 70 years, was one of the attractions invented by Charles Wicksteed, the man who created many of the playground attractions loved by generations of children. He created swings and slides as part of his vision to inspire and encourage play as part of families’ health and well-being and installed them at Wicksteed Park, Kettering. The park has become known as the home of children’s play because of its international significance and is now searching for other “hidden gems” so they can be restored too. The ride was discovered in a ditch near Margate by a salvage yard and put up for sale on eBay, where it was seen by Oliver Wicksteed, Charles’ great grandson and Chairman of Wicksteed Charitable Trust, which was formed to ensure Charles’ work continued after his death. The rocking horse – nicknamed Rocky by park staff – was brought back to Kettering and lovingly restored by staff at Wicksteed Playgrounds, the manufacturing business set up by Charles, which is still based in the town. It’s now set to have pride of place next to the park’s free playground, where it will be enjoyed by children once more as part of a project to bring the history of children’s play to life. Charlie Howard, Managing Director at Wicksteed Playgrounds, said: “We are delighted to be part of this great project. I am happy to say that,...

Heritage Lottery Fund East Midlands

Heritage Lottery Fund East Midlands   @Play – Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow Wicksteed Park, near Kettering in Northamptonshire, has received initial support of £1.89million, made possible by National Lottery players, to transform the historic heart of the Park, showcase its heritage, and enhance the enjoyment of play in line with the original vision of its founder, Charles Wicksteed. Wicksteed Park was originally established as a safe and free park for the families and children of Kettering, a philanthropic gesture by engineer Charles Wicksteed during the First World War.  It was one of the UK’s first leisure parks and continues to be operated by the Wicksteed Charitable Trust. In the past, lack of funding has prevented the Park from reaching its full potential as a heritage and learning resource for the local community and the large number of visitors who use the Park. The intention of the @Play project is to restore it to its former glory. Thanks to the support from National Lottery players the @Play project will invite people to learn about the heritage of the park and the importance of play. The project will complement the restoration of the central Piazza and Precinct which will provide an improved welcome to the park. A substantial education and learning programme will also be delivered in the form of inventive events and activities. Jonathan Platt, Head of HLF East Midlands, said: “As one of the UK’s first leisure parks Wicksteed has a particularly interesting history, and has played a significant role for the local community over the years. This latest investment, made possible by National Lottery players, builds on a...

Full speed ahead for innovation at Wicksteed Park’s Soapbox Derby

Charles Wicksteed’s reputation for engineering and innovation will be kept alive when amateur racers take part in this year’s Soapbox Derby at Wicksteed Park. The event, on Saturday June 17, will see up to 100 karts tackle a downhill course close to the park’s campsite, with prizes for the best dressed team, most spectacular cornering and most entertaining run alongside trophies for the fastest teams. The event encourages competitors to use their ingenuity and imagination to create vehicles capable of tackling the course, with the thrills and spills attracting competitors and spectators from across the region. It maintains the park’s reputation for innovation and highlights extraordinary legacy of the park’s creator Charles Wicksteed, and his life as an entrepreneur, inventor, innovator and successful engineer. Charles invented the modern day slide and swing as part of his dream to encourage families to enjoy a healthy, active lifestyle. Tracey Clarke, Wicksteed Park’s Community Link Manager, said: “Charles Wicksteed was at the forefront of innovation and engineering, creating rides and attractions which played a key role in the development of children’s play. “The Soapbox Derby is great fun and encourages people to be innovative and create something unique, just like Charles did.” The Soapbox Derby takes the form of a time trial for non-power assisted karts run over an inclined course with a left hand bend at the bottom and the first runs will take place from 11.30am. The course begins at the top of the hill with competitors navigating a speed hump outside the old Golf House, now The Studio, next to the camp site, and runs down the hill towards...

Thousands to see History come to life at Wicksteed at War 2017

Twenty thousand visitors are set to see history come to life when the annual Wicksteed At War free family event returns to Wicksteed Park from June 9 – 11. The Military Vehicle Trust has joined organisers to put on a spectacular programme of events and attractions, including fly-bys and battle reenactments. A full arena of entertainment and stalls will also help provide a wonderful day out for all the family. Highlights of the 2017 show will include more than 120 military vehicles including modern main battle tanks and tracked fighting vehicles and more than 30 re-enactment groups, including World War Two and the Vietnam War. There will also be a dedicated Tank Park and Fighting Vehicle History Walk Through. The main arena timetable will include two major period battles on each day, educational vehicle parades, a light tank stunt team and fun themed actives with fighting vehicles. The show’s successful education day, designed for children from 7-14, will also be held again on Friday June 9, with 300 spaces available for local schools. Wicksteed Park marketing co-ordinator Marie Phillips said: “Wicksteed At War is a fantastic event for all the family and a great opportunity for children and adults alike to learn more about what actually happened and how the war affected families just like theirs.” There will also be a series of fly pasts by the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, including: Saturday June 10: • Spitfire (British WW2 Fighter Plane) • Hurricane (British WW2 Fighter Plane) • Lancaster (British WW2 Bomber) Sunday June 11: • Dakota (Military Transport Aircraft) Visitors can visit the Wicksteed Mess between 11am...