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Bric-a-Brac: W is for...

Wicksteed Park

Before Alton Towers, before EuroDisney, there was the granddaddy of all theme parks, Wicksteed Park. Or, to give it its official title, Wicksteed Park Just Off the A14 Near Kettering. School coach trips would be organised from several miles around to ferry expectant kids to this Northamptonshire fun palace, wherein they could spend a merry day on: a playground (just like any other playground, but a bit bigger); a big dipper which dipped all of twice on the way round; a model steam train which chuffed round the grounds as sedately as you might expect, and a boating lake which was out of bounds. On the plus side, most of the stuff was free once you were in the place, and the epic queueing associated with modern day theme parks was unheard of. On the minus side, you were stuck there until the bus went back home.



  1. Paul

    October 6, 2009 at 2:57 pm

    Ah – Blackgang Chine. Now, sadly, washed away to sea – so gone is the gnome garden, the dinosaur sculptures hidden in the woods, the crooked man’s house, the hall-of-mirrors and the smuggler’s cave.

    It was the highlight of any trip ‘abroad’ when you were 10 or so. Aha me harty’s!!!

  2. Danforth

    October 6, 2009 at 4:08 pm

    Blackgang Chine the park is still going! The geographical feature it’s named for has been washed away, and the land is unstable which has indeed flattened a couple of the attractions, but it’s still alive and well and a bit odd.

  3. Paul Gatenby

    October 6, 2009 at 4:18 pm

    Blackgang Chine was ace, it also had a deactivated Bloodhound missile that you could clamber on. I liked the little china ruins near the gnome gardens called ‘Former Gnomes Dwellings’ and the paths that would peter out into a maze of cracks and then a massive fence leading to a sheer drop. That holiday we also went to see Tom O’Connor and Nookie Bear at Sandown Pier. They weren’t, sadly, sharing the stage. Halcyon days!

  4. Topov

    July 22, 2010 at 3:21 am

    I remember going there in the early 70s on one of our council-estate-days-out (three Routemaster buses-full). It was indeed as disappointing as described.

    But ever after I noticed that the ironwork steps up to the top of the slide at our local park had “Wickstead Kettering” moulded in them.

  5. Richard Davies

    August 10, 2010 at 9:25 pm

    I went to Wickstead park a couple of times when visiting relatives in Higham Ferrers.

    Interestingly we all went to the Isle Of Wight one year & visited Blackgang Chine.

    I really liked the Wild West part of it with the jail & covered waggon.

  6. Spoon

    March 14, 2011 at 1:59 am

    It has a mildly exciting waterchute-slide thing; the type where you sit in a boat and it goes down a ramp, ending up all splashy. Possibly historic.

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