Kibworth & Smeeton WI
We welcomed Oliver and Jane Wicksteed to our May meeting to talk about ‘Wicksteed Park – Past and Present’. A Grade II English Heritage listed park and garden owned by Wicksteed Charitable Trust. More than an amusement park, having extensive gardens, a lake, a nature reserve and sports facilities. Fred Perry taught there.
Charles Wicksteed was a wealthy businessman who owned an engineering works in Kettering. He bought meadowland at Barton Seagrave in 1913, intending to build a model village to house his workers. However, when WWI ended, he decided to create a park with leisure activities, attractions and refreshments for local people.
Oliver showed us some amazing slides, some taken 100 years ago, of the play equipment designed and manufactured by Charles. Including two wooden slides, one for boys, the other for girls, giant wooden swings, a seesaw and a ‘witch’s hat’ roundabout. Later a water chute designed by Charles was added, which was given its own listed building status in 2016! A lake was completed in time for the Park’s official opening in 1921, and in 1931 the ever-popular narrow gauge railway was added.
All those years ago Charles wrote a book about the importance of recreation and fun for children. Using a popular term of our times – ‘wellbeing’. Over the years, even after the death of its founder, the Park continued to expand, with new facilities and equipment.
Oliver became involved 25 years ago, raising funds from benefactors and the National Lottery to restore and maintain the park. Ensuring its survival following Covid 19. A Big Wheel is being added which will give amazing views over the Kettering area. further ensuring the Park’s continuing popularity, with regular attractions such as open-air concerts, fireworks in November and Christmas events.
Our meeting continued with members taking a vote on this year’s resolution to campaign the Government for ‘Clean rivers for people and wildlife’. This was passed unanimously with 41 votes.
The winning entry of our ‘Create a Crown’ competition was Rosemary Wilcock’s intricate miniature crown created from quilling. Members showed ingenuity with a variety of craft materials including fine coloured wire, clothes pegs, card, fabrics – and icing!
Our next speaker will be Glynis Myall, who will talk to us about ‘Canine Partners – Amazing Dogs Transforming Lives’. Her talk will be on Thursday 13 July at 7.30pm in Kibworth Grammar School Hall.