Wicksteed Park celebrates its 90th birthday

Wicksteed Park was the UK's first to feature children's play equipment, its owners claim.

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A regatta is being held in Northamptonshire to mark the start of a park's 90th anniversary celebrations.

Wicksteed Park, in Kettering, is said to be the first leisure park in the UK with children's play equipment, according to its owners.

It was officially opened on 14 May 1921 with a regatta held on the park's lake.

Other events planned across the summer include a World War II re-enactment weekend and the opening of a new nature reserve on land next to the park.

Managing director, John Roberts, said: " We will have a 90th anniversary shop within the park, where members of the community can share their memories so that they too can be part of the recorded history of Wicksteed Park."

'Social welfare'

Wicksteed Nature Reserve will also be officially opened on Saturday.

Water meadows, last used more than 100 years ago, are being restored. Later this year, water from the River Ise will be diverted through channels to flood the meadows.

Dr Robin Field, of the River Nene Regional Park, said the method was used to encourage grass to grow.

"In winter the water is warmer than the soil and it also brings nutrients with it," he said. "That will encourage grass to grow at an earlier stage.

"The cattle can come on to feed about a month earlier which was very important in medieval times because the difficulty then was over-wintering stock."

The origins of the park can be traced back to 1913 when Charles Wicksteed, a local engineer, purchased meadowland near Kettering to build a model village.

After World War I the idea for a village was abandoned and the land was turned into a leisure park.

Mr Wicksteed established the Wicksteed Park Trust in 1916.

One of its is to provide "facilities for recreation and other leisure time occupation in the interests of social welfare" for the people of Kettering.

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