Wicksteed Park memories: Afternoon tea was perk of the job

Pat worked at Wicksteed in the early 1970s

By Phoebe Radford
Monday, 6th July 2020, 7:00 am
Updated Monday, 6th July 2020, 6:18 pm
Pat McHugh with her family
Pat McHugh with her family

Since news broke of Wicksteed Park's operating company going into administration, the public have been supporting the park through donations and many have been sharing their memories of Wickys.

Kettering's beloved park has been a fixture of the town for 99 years and a big part of many peoples' lives.

Pat McHugh, in her 60s, is from Corby but now lives in Weldon and spent a summer working at Wicksteed Park, just like many people who have grown up in the area.

Pat worked as a waitress during a summer in the early 1970s and said: "The work in the restaurant was very hard and we only earned about £8 per week for very long hours, but we had such good fun.

"We were allowed an afternoon tea that consisted of a sandwich, snack and cake. It was made up on a paper plate ready for us to collect.

"We never had time to stop for it before shift finished as we had to clear the restaurant and set up for the next day."

Pat said her busiest days were when coach parties visited the park, she said: "I remember all the coach parties used to come in and they had a lunch included in the price.

"We would serve them on the other side of the curtain in the pavilion restaurant, usually ham, egg and chips with a soft drink and the famous Wicksteed ice cream.

"The coach drivers would get a meal also and they were the best tippers!"

Not all weekends were as busy and Pat said on quiet days they'd be sent home, but they took it as an opportunity to go on the rides, train and get some candy floss.

One of Pat's most exciting weekends at Wicksteed was when famous children's TV star Jean Morton visited.

Pat said: "This particular day there was a lot of excitement as the then-famous Tingha and Tucker Club from the ITV children's show hosted by Jean Morton were coming to Wicksteed.

"All through the morning hundreds of children auditioned in the Coach Party Room to appear on the show when it was to be filmed later in the day.

"They all had to sing the theme tune, so you can imagine we were driven mad by it.

"Not to be outdone, as the auditions came to an end a gang of us got up on the stage and performed our own rendition.

"Aunty Jean advised that although we were very good, our age disqualified us. I can still hear that tune in my head to this day."

Pat said she thinks her early working experience at Wicksteed gave her confidence that has stayed with her through the rest of her career.

She said: "I think the work experience in dealing with the public was a great confidence booster.

"I went on to Tresham College to do catering and then worked in KGH and went into many different types of work.

"I went to Australia in 1981, initially for six months but returned early, married and had two fantastic children and have worked with my husband in construction ever since."

It all started back as a teenager working at Wicksteed!

If you have memories of Wicksteed Park that you'd like to share, email us at [email protected]

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