Kettering firm's playground equipment found washed up on Isle of Wight beach

It may have been manufactured as long as 80 years ago

By Sam Wildman
Tuesday, 14th July 2020, 8:00 am
These Wicksteed steps were recovered from the beach on the Isle of Wight.
These Wicksteed steps were recovered from the beach on the Isle of Wight.

Most people who go looking through the rocks at a beach might come across a limpet, or maybe a crab if they are lucky.

But a brother and sister by the sea on the Isle of Wight came across something they never expected - playground equipment made by Kettering's famous Wicksteed Leisure.

Bella and Samuel Greenland were in Ventnor on the south of the island, more than 150 miles from our town, when they found what appears to be steps from a slide wedged in the rocks on the beach underneath the Spyglass Inn on Saturday (July 11).

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They carried the find, which has 'Wicksteed Kettering' on each step, back to a holiday apartment at Salty Holidays and the rental firm started trying to find out what they were and how on earth they ended up on the Isle of Wight on Facebook, with a post which attracted more than 1,300 shares. And between them and Wicksteed Leisure they think they have solved the mystery.

Andy Prentice, marketing supervisor at Wicksteed Leisure, said: "We estimate we probably manufactured them between 1940 and 1967. It's a very old piece of kit but it's very sturdy and still in good condition.

"It seems to have come from the theme park Blackgang Chine, which is only about six miles from there. I took my children there about three years ago and there was a Wicksteed-made roundabout perched on the cliff."

Blackgang Chine - the UK's oldest theme park having opened in the 1840s - had an area called Adventure Land with a lot of the equipment made by the Wicksteed firm which is based in Kettering's Digby Street.

But in 1994 Adventure Land was destroyed by a landslip and these slide steps may have gone into the sea.

Mr Prentice said: "There was a landslip and what they think might have happened is this equipment may have gone in the sea and carried around for a couple of miles and ended up here. It's great that it's been found and it's getting some great publicity for town."

Holidaymakers - including many from Northamptonshire - have been sharing their memories of Wicksteed slides on Salty Holiday's social media pages.

Michael Jones said: "They were fantastic when I was a boy."

Liz Eckert said: "We had these on our local park slide when I was growing up. Best slide ever!"

But what will happen to these slide steps finally recovered after years at sea? For now they will be on show at the Salty Holidays apartments.

Dawn Giles from Salty Holidays said: "We are pleased to have re-ignited some happy memories of giant slides for many people.

"We were delighted to discover so many connections between people holidaying here in Ventnor and also visiting Wicksteed Park.

"For now, we will keep the steps here in our garden for our guests to see when they are staying in our holiday apartments."

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