WICKSTEED Park in Kettering - the birthplace of the modern playground - has been awarded £1.78m from The National Lottery Heritage Fund to create the world's first Heritage Play Area.
Inventor and engineer Charles Wicksteed famously created the first swings, slides and roundabouts - still a staple of children's play - at the park. A less common sight now is the Ocean Wave, also known as The Witch's Hat, which disappeared from the UK's playgrounds in the mid-1980s with the introduction of more stringent health and safety restrictions.
Now, in celebration of their National Lottery funding, the park has unveiled a 12-foot replica of the cone-shaped playground ride, so children can enjoy the same thrills and spills experienced by their parents and grandparents.
The @play project will also see the restoration of a number of key areas through the park, including the Rose Garden and the Captain's Lounge, and the introduction of an annual Festival of Play. Wicksteed Charitable Trust, who now look after the park, will also build on the park's educational and community work; with a particular focus on engaging audiences who do not currently frequent the park. All elements of the project will build on the legacy of founder Charles Wicksteed to inspire and encourage play as part of families' health and wellbeing.
The amusement park is one of the first recipients of grants from the new National Lottery Heritage Fund Midlands & East Committee, which saw six successful projects awarded over £5.1m. The Midlands & East Committee now has decision making powers up to £5m per project across West Midlands, East Midlands and the East of England - enabling the fund to ensure that funding decisions are made by people who live and work in those areas.