Wicksteed Park's opening day - a look back how we reported it 100 years ago

The articles first appeared in the Kettering Leader after the Whitsun opening of Wicksteed Park

Monday, 31st May 2021, 5:15 am

In May 1921, a brand new park opened on land bought by a Kettering entrepreneur - Charles Wicksteed - engineer by trade and philanthropist by nature.

He wanted the children and adults who lived in the town to have somewhere to play in the fresh air away from the tightly-packed streets.

In a world still reeling from World War One and the Spanish Flu pandemic, people wanted to make the most of every moment of freedom.

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Charles Wicksteed with daughter Hilda on the opening day look across the lake

On Whitsun 1921, Charles Wicksteed, accompanied by his daughter Hilda, toured 'The Barton Lake' in 'The Wicksteed Park' - and here is how the Kettering Leader reported the day:

Bright Holiday - Cheerful Whit-Monday Spent at Kettering

' “Let’s go to the lake.” These words seemed to be spoken by nearly everybody with whom one came into contact in Kettering district on Monday. There is doubt that the fine sheet of water in The Wicksteed Park has proved to be a tremendous attraction.

From morning until evening boats and skiffs and canoes were gliding along the calm and placid waters, amid the sylvan scenery, whilst thousands of people lined the shores, or perambulated the hillsides.

The lake with its islands

There is much to attract attention, sometimes of a very amusing description, seeing that some of the rowers are as yet but amateurs. In fact, there was one spill, which could not be dangerous, for the water is shallow, except on the furthest point, and those who escaped with a ducking landed on one of the newly-formed islands.

It was a happy locale during the holiday for old and young alike, and will remain so for our children’s children, to whom the name of Mr. Wicksteed, J.P., C.A., will be handed down as a great public benefactor. Large numbers of people had carried provisions and enjoyed al fresco tea. Bathing, wading, sailing toy boats, and other pleasures brightened the day.

One heard a good deal, too, as to what was going to happen. Here is the machinery for making waves, and here when sand tipped, the children, and perhaps the elders, too, will think it is as good as the “briny.”

Needless to say, all the attractions of the extensive park were also enjoyed to the full.'

The playground

Kettering’s New Attraction

'As we anticipated last week would be the case, people developed quite a holiday mood during the Whitsuntide break.

How far this was helped by the glorious weather experienced it would be difficult to decide, but the fact remains that the bright sunshine and balmy airs found their counterparts in the cheerful and buoyant spirit shown on every hand.

For Kettering people an added incentive to interest and enjoyment was furnished-in-the opening of the Barton Lake in The Wicksteed Park and “Kettering-by-the-Sea” has sprung at one bound into unquestioned popularity.

The original slides

Young and old have flocked in thousands to experience or witness the new pleasure, and the addition has certainly made the holiday more memorable, and aided in its enjoyment.'

Children push the swing to its limits
Everyone arrived on their bikes
The boating lake