Firm behind Kettering’s Wicksteed Park’s play equipment celebrates 100th anniversary

An early roundabout ride. NNL-180501-151023005
An early roundabout ride. NNL-180501-151023005

The company that creates play equipment for Kettering’s much-loved Wicksteed Park is celebrating its 100th anniversary.

Wicksteed Playgrounds’ founder Charles Wicksteed died in 1931 but his firm is going strong.

The Wicksteed Galleon. NNL-180501-151047005

The Wicksteed Galleon. NNL-180501-151047005

In 1913 he bought a parcel of agricultural land south-east of Kettering and formed the Wicksteed Village Trust.

His intention was to provide a model village for the working classes at below-average rents, offering generous gardens and a large open public space for recreation and play.

Charles realised the importance of play in children’s lives and by 1918, his firm was making vast quantities of playground equipment not just for his park but also to sell commercially, manufacturing and installing play equipment to public parks and schools across the UK and around the world.

Over the decades they made a dazzling array of equipment, from pioneering metal slides, the plank swing or ‘jazz’ (an ingenious cross between a swing and a see-saw), to the Ocean Wave (a ring-shaped platform on which a group of children sat or stood to revolve around a central pole) and the beloved Wicksteed Rocking Horse.

An early fairground swing. NNL-180501-151037005

An early fairground swing. NNL-180501-151037005

Today, Wicksteed is still regarded as one of the most innovative outdoor play companies which uses cutting edge technologies at its factory.

As well as static play equipment, the company offers bespoke play design, electronic play, sports apparatus and a comprehensive range of outdoor gym equipment which can be found in hundreds of community spaces across the country.

A Wicksteed Playgrounds spokesman said: “Reaching this landmark is an exciting time for Wicksteed, to reflect on its incredible heritage but also to look forward to what will continue to be offered in the world of outdoor play,

sport and fitness for the next century.

The Wicksteed pendulum swing. NNL-180501-151057005

The Wicksteed pendulum swing. NNL-180501-151057005

“As part of its centenary celebrations the company’s logo has been re-designed and a number of significant events will be held over the year including the re-creation of an old Wicksteed favourite, so watch this space.”