Abandoned Wicksteed Park ride returned to former glory after being found in ditch

The restored ride.
The restored ride.

One of the world’s oldest surviving playground rocking horses has been restored to its former glory and returned to Kettering’s Wicksteed Park after being rescued from a ditch.

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.

The restored ride.

The restored ride.

Left to rust, it 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.

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.

Managing director at Wicksteed Playgrounds Charlie Howard said: “We are delighted to be part of this great project.

The restored ride.

The restored ride.

“I am happy to say that, thanks to plenty of TLC and the skill of our staff, we were able to fully restore Rocky and it is great to see him in the park and being enjoyed by the children there.”

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.

Oliver Wicksteed said: “Rocky isn’t just part of the heritage of the park or Wicksteed Playgrounds but he is part of the history of children’s play and how it developed as a result of the vision and foresight of Charles Wicksteed.

“The ride is a working history lesson for the children that enjoy it and we hope to bring many more pieces of play equipment back into use as part of our project to bring the history of the park alive to all visitors through physical interpretation and engagement.”