Wicksteed Park has been chosen to feature in a new book which showcases the treasures which make Northamptonshire such a special place.
The newly-launched publication, Icons of Northamptonshire, features 70 contributors talking about the places, events and buildings which are associated with the region or which people love and hold dear to their hearts.
As well as Oliver Wicksteed, chairman of the Wicksteed Charitable Trust, the contributors include Sir Terry Wogan and explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes.
The park, which opened in 1921, was founded Charles Wicksteed as part of his vision to encourage families and children to lead a more healthy, active life.
The story of the park and the man behind it has had a huge impact, not just locally, but in the whole way we treat parks and children’s play as a nation.
In his description of the park in the new book, Oliver Wicksteed said: “We want to push forward, not just look back.
“Our new vision is a blend of the old and the new, to update and improve – celebrating our heritage is great but we want to be proactive and move forward.
“We are focusing on important things such as play, landscape and getting the balance right between them and the rides and attractions we offer.”
Before Wicksteed, public parks were very formal places, where children were warned to keep off the grass.
He used his engineering skills to create modern day play equipment such as the slide and the swing and encouraged children to have fun.
These days the park combines the tranquility of an historic Grade II listed country park with a nature reserve run by the Wildlife Trust and attracts more than one million visitors each year, many of whom enjoy its many free aspects.
The 147 acres of beautiful parkland combine what is believed to be the largest free playground in Europe and paid-for attractions such as rollercoasters and rides.
A stunning and newly-refurbished Edwardian Pavilion hosts regular live shows and events.
A major £3million project, supported by grants from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) Northamptonshire County Council and Kettering Borough Council, has just been completed, breathing new life into Wicksteed Park’s historic lake and restoring it to former glories.
The Trustees’ vision for Wicksteed Park is a place where adventurous, educational and imaginative play happen in outstanding parkland, offering very rich opportunities for learning and participation.
Icons of Northamptonshire is published by Northamptonshire County Council and the Northamptonshire branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE Northamptonshire) and is illustrated with colour photographs of many of the icons it mentions.
In the book’s foreword, CPRE president Sir Andrew Motion declares the book “a long-overdue celebration of one of England’s least celebrated counties…a county which is, at once, on the periphery of things, and yet central to so much of England’s history and identity”.
The book is available at the county’s libraries and costs £17.50.