Wicksteed Park lake to undergo £2m restoration project

Lakeside manager Chris Whitney and community link manager Charlotte Widgery by the lake at Wicksteed Park
Lakeside manager Chris Whitney and community link manager Charlotte Widgery by the lake at Wicksteed Park
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One of Kettering’s most popular attractions is to undergo a £2m restoration, officials have announced.

A public meeting will be held on Tuesday, July 16, ahead of a planned facelift of the lake at Wicksteed Park, with work due to get under way in the autumn.

The park has been awarded more than £1m from the Heritage Lottery Fund to support the project, which will see the lake deepened and efforts made to diversify its wildlife habitats.

The restoration will involve dredging and deepening the main lake and installing new sluices.

Reed beds will be planted alongside areas of grass wetland to improve biodiversity.

Other works involved in the project include the conservation of the currently redundant roundhouse, a 1924 lakeside shelter, which will be repaired.

Park staff hope it can be brought back into use as a focus for lakeside activities.

There are also plans which will see the creation of a large amphitheatre, new pathways around the lake and arboretum, and the creation of water play areas for children.

Chairman of the Wicksteed Charitable Trust Oliver Wicksteed, the park’s managing director Alasdair McNee and community link manager Charlotte Widgery will give an update on the project to the public at Latimer Arts College on Tuesday, July 16.

The event starts at 6.30pm in the college’s Masque Theatre and will give further details of what is planned once work begins in September.

Mr McNee said: “These are exciting times for the park. We not only want to tell people about our plans but to encourage them to feel a part of the park and get involved in our vision for the future.

“I believe that these improvements and additions would be just the sort of things Charles Wicksteed would have carried out if he was still alive today.

“This project will go much further than just restoring former glory and I am genuinely excited about all of the new activities and habitats that will be created around the lake, ensuring it can continue to be enjoyed by future generations.”

The lake was created between 1919 and 1921 prior to the park being formally opened in 1921. It was used for regattas, swimming, boating and water polo, with the park advertised as “The Gateway to Health and Happiness”.

The water for the lake is supplied by the River Ise, which enters through original Charles Wicksteed-designed sluices.

However, since it was first opened large amounts of sediment have collected across the lake, reducing its depth to less than half a metre across much of its area.