Northampton

Witch's Hat playground ride returns to Wicksteed Park

The Witch's Hat Image copyright Wicksteed Park
Image caption The original Witch's Hat was one of many playground rides invented by Charles Wicksteed

A playground ride which was phased out because it was too dangerous has returned to a park, with a new design.

The Witch's Hat was invented almost 100 years ago by Charles Wicksteed for his Park in Kettering, Northamptonshire.

But what was believed to be the last of the 12ft-high ride in Britain was removed from the playground in the mid-1980s.

This new version has a mechanism which keeps the ride spinning but prevents crushing into a central pole.

Also known as an ocean wave, it is a conical swing balanced on a central pole which oscillates unpredictably.

In a report written in 2011, the Children's Play Advisory Service said the original rides were removed because they "had a high risk of inflicting lethal injury".

This version made by Wicksteed Playgrounds, also started by Charles Wicksteed, is the first of its kind.

Image copyright Wicksteed Park
Image caption The new version is part of project at Wicksteed Park to create a heritage playground

Charlie Howard, of Wicksteed Playgrounds, said: "The Witch's Hat has been brought into the 21st Century with advanced engineering making it as safe a structure as it is exciting."

Oliver Wicksteed, chairman of the Wicksteed Charitable Trust, and Charles' grandson said: "Bringing back the Witch's Hat is all about giving children the chance to enjoy good, old-fashioned thrills and spills and have fun."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Witch's Hats were a popular piece of equipment in many parks but injuries to children meant they were phased out
Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Playgrounds began to be built across the UK after World War One

Deborah Jaffe, author of The History of Toys, said the original version was "great fun".

"It's brilliant if they are bringing a safer version back," she said.

Ms Jaffe said one of the problems before was that the mechanics were not enclosed.

The ride is part of a project, funded by a £1.78m grant from The National Lottery Heritage Fund, to preserve Wicksteed Park's history.

Image copyright Wicksteed Park
Image caption A replica of the park's first wooden slide has already been built for the Wicksteed Parks's heritage play area

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