Wicksteed Park plans are steaming ahead

New Wicksteed Park managing director Alasdair McNee
New Wicksteed Park managing director Alasdair McNee

The new managing director of Wicksteed Park has revealed a raft of ambitious plans for improving the 90-year-old facility in a bid to make it one of the Midland’s best family attractions.

Alasdair McNee took the reins at the park earlier this year, after working for a number of years as financial director at Chester Zoo.

He said the attraction of becoming a managing director – as well as the potential of Wicksteed Park – were the main reasons for his move.

Later this year a £2m project to improve the boating lake, by dredging thousands of tonnes of silt, will begin.

However, that is only the first step in plans which will see the installation of a pontoon in the lake, the creation of a large amphitheatre, new pathways around the lake and arboretum and the creation of water play areas for children.

Other plans include a huge zipwire for older children and teenagers and opening up the islands on the lake.

Mr McNee said: “Our aim is to broaden the appeal of the park away from just the rides and also bring in natural play for children.

“It is about widening the experience so we can open the park up to new audiences for example at the moment we do not attract families with pre-school children.”

Mr McNee said that while there were some ambitious plans in the pipeline for the park the facility’s status as a charity means there are not large cash reserves to draw on.

He added: “It costs hundreds of thousands of pounds a year to maintain what we already have, so we have to make money – although that does not mean we want to compete with theme parks.

“Over the years, the trust has raised money by selling off land around the edges of the park.”