Iconic children’s playground designer and manufacturer, Wicksteed Playgrounds, is celebrating reaching the incredible milestone of 100 years of providing fun and entertainment for generations of children past, present and future!
Its founder, Charles Wicksteed died in 1931 but would be pleased to see Wicksteed is still one of the UK’s leading manufacturers of children’s outdoor play and sports equipment, exporting far and wide, and still pushing the latest technologies to create play equipment that entices a new generation of children into the outdoors.
In 1876 Charles Wicksteed (1847-1931) founded an engineering company in Kettering and in 1913 he bought a parcel of agricultural land south-east of Kettering and formed the Wicksteed Village Trust to provide a model village for the working classes at below-average rents. He realised the importance of play in children’s lives and by 1918, his firm was making vast quantities of playground equipment not just for his park, but also to sell commercially, manufacturing and installing play equipment to public parks and schools across the UK and around the world.
Over decades they made a dazzling array of equipment, from pioneering metal slides, the plank swing or ‘jazz’ (an ingenious cross between a swing and a see-saw), to the Ocean Wave (a ring-shaped platform on which a group of children sat or stood to revolve around a central pole) And of course, let’s not forget the beloved Wicksteed Rocking Horse on which, from the 1930s onwards, children were able to ride.
When we think of today’s most innovative companies, we often list those that are less than a decade old and have recently gone public. More impressive, however, are the companies that have been around for not just 10 years, but 10-plus decades and were established before the internet, let alone television, air travel, the Great Depression and the end of the first World War. These companies haven’t just scraped by, they’ve reinvented themselves multiple times and remained at the forefront of branding and marketing and have evolved and adapted to stay current. “It takes resilience and willingness to change, to weather more than a century.”
Today, Wicksteed is regarded one of the most innovative outdoor play companies, which uses cutting edge technologies, at its factory in the UK, to create fun and thrilling play experiences. As well as static play equipment, Wicksteed offers bespoke play design, electronic play, sports apparatus and a comprehensive range of outdoor gym equipment which can be found in hundreds of community spaces across the country.
Reaching this landmark is an exciting time for Wicksteed, to reflect on its incredible heritage but also to look forward to what will continue to be offered in the world of outdoor play, sport and fitness for the next century! As part of its centenary celebrations the company’s logo has been re-designed and a number of significant events will be held over the year including the re-creation of an old Wicksteed favourite…so watch this space!