Northampton

Wicksteed Park: Emergency grant boosts theme park appeal

Wicksteed Park pavilion Image copyright Wicksteed Park
Image caption The pavilion at Wicksteed Park was restored last year

A fundraising appeal for a theme park has reached £370,000 after receiving funds from well-wishers and a National Lottery Heritage Fund emergency grant.

Wicksteed Park went into administration on 15 June due to the "financial strain" of the coronavirus lockdown.

The 99-year-old park, which is based in Kettering, Northamptonshire, is owned by the Wicksteed Charitable Trust.

Trust chairman Oliver Wicksteed said the support was "truly outstanding".

Image caption Wicksteed Park in Kettering was opened by Charles Wicksteed in 1921

The cash will mean the park can continue to be free to enter and go towards staffing, security and bills, as well as looking after the animals and grounds.

The move to administration led to the loss of 48 permanent staff and 67 part-time and other jobs.

The trust backed the formation of a new smaller company, with the aim of raising money to re-open the park.

So far, well-wishers have raised £123,000 from donations and sponsored activities.

Image caption The log flume which opened in 1926 is the oldest of its kind in the UK

Mr Wicksteed said: "The response from local people has been truly outstanding and we can't thank them enough for what they have done and what they continue to do."

Running the park alone, without the rides, costs about £110,000 a month.

The coronavirus outbreak left the trust with no income for months, apart from a small contribution from car parking.

The Heritage Fund grant of £247,000 comes from the £50m Heritage Emergency Fund, set up in the wake of the lockdown.

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