Soft Brick's new soft play build at Wicksteed Park - Wicky's Play Factory!

We have recently had the pleasure in working with Wicksteed Park located in Kettering, Northamptonshire.
A little bit of background for those who don’t know much about the Grade II listed Wicksteed park:

The park opened in 1921 and it is believed to be the second oldest theme park in the UK. The Park was founded by Charles Wicksteed - an entrepreneur, engineer, inventor and philanthropist. Born in Leeds in 1847, Mr Wicksteed set up the modern park with an aim to improve the lives of local people by encouraging healthy leisure activities. Part of the park was to cater for children - after seeing how the children played in the park, Mr Wicksteed came up with the idea of creating an area specifically for children to play in - children's play equipment was born! This idea grew into one of the very first permanent children's playgrounds in the World and in turn helped form the play industry we know today! The park is in fact Grade II listed because of the important role it played in the development of children's play. Of historical interest is the Water Chute, which was built in 1926. Having undergone major renovation (in 2002), it is the oldest working ride in the UK.

As well as setting up Wicksteed Park and designing the play equipment within it, Mr Wicksteed also invented and improved upon numerous things, including:

  • A mechanical saw (you definitely don't want one of these in your play area!)
  • A bread and butter machine
  • An automatic gear box - an invention way ahead of it's time!

Mr Wicksteed had a firm belief that children were restricted by society and it’s rules. From his book he writes:

“Teach children what they can do instead of pointing out the things they are not allowed to do.”

We have tried to incorporate as many of the original features at Wicksteed Park within the design of the new play area. There are several amazing and totally bespoke items such as two slides in the main area, one which are themed as ‘the water chute slide’ and the other as ‘the wooden plank.’ The original wooden plank slide was built in 1922 and consisted of three long planks with nothing to hold on to! Initially Wicksteed made separate slides for the boys and girls, which were labelled to avoid confusion. The children had to sit astride the wooden planks and hold onto the edges to stop themselves falling off. You'll be glad to hear our slides are much safer - but still reflect the design and fun factor of Mr Wicksteed's original.

Other features of the play area include:

  • Wicksteed's Railway tracks
  • Wicksteed's Workshop complete with tools and Spinning Dizzy disc cogs!
  • Wicksteed's 'Spread-o-matic' Rollers
  • Giant Ball pool with ball pool ball feeder!
  • Wicksteed's flying machines
  • Wicksteed's steam engine!
  • An amazing interactive, talking Mr Wicksteed himself!
  • ...& many many more!

Here's some photos:

 Wicky's Play Factory is open now alongside the other amazing activities they have inside the park ready for the summer - keep checking their website for updates: 

Soft Brick would like to wish the team at Wicky's the best of luck with their brand spanking new play area! We'd also like to thank Mr Wicksteed for laying the groundwork for children's play all those years ago - without him, Soft Brick and the whole indoor play industry might not exist like it does today!

- The Soft Brick team