Playground Heritage

“The Play Ground should not be put in a corner behind railings, but in a conspicuous and beautiful part of a Park, free to all, where people can enjoy the play and charming scenery at the same time; where mothers can sit, while they are looking on and caring for their children.”

This quote by our founder Charles Wicksteed still influences everything we do here at Wicksteed, ensuring that every product or playground we design and manufacture is functional, durable and beautiful.

As the only playground equipment manufacturer to possess more than 100 years of experience in the industry, we are in the privileged position to offer extensive knowledge and experience bolstered by our brilliant heritage. From climbing frames and swings to toddler play panels and inclusive play equipment, we know a thing or two about play and fitness.

We’re proud to be part of the past, present and future of the playground industry as we continue to design fantastically diverse, exciting and challenging products for our customers. Because, as Charles Wicksteed also said, “The amount of healthy enjoyment, delight and exercise these Playthings give is immeasurable...”
“The Play Ground should not be put in a corner behind railings, but in a conspicuous and beautiful part of a Park, free to all, where people can enjoy the play and charming scenery at the same time; where mothers can sit, while they are looking on and caring for their children.”

This quote by our founder Charles Wicksteed still influences everything we do here at Wicksteed, ensuring that every product or playground we design and manufacture is functional, durable and beautiful.

As the only playground equipment manufacturer to possess more than 100 years of experience in the industry, we are in the privileged position to offer extensive knowledge and experience bolstered by our brilliant heritage. From climbing frames and swings to toddler play panels and inclusive play equipment, we know a thing or two about play and fitness.

We’re proud to be part of the past, present and future of the playground industry as we continue to design fantastically diverse, exciting and challenging products for our customers. Because, as Charles Wicksteed also said, “The amount of healthy enjoyment, delight and exercise these Playthings give is immeasurable...”
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Our History

1876

Our Humble Beginnings

Charles Wicksteed moved to Kettering from Norfolk at the age of 29 to establish a business servicing and repairing ploughing machines. Our factory still remains on this site on Digby Street to this day.

1907

Charles Wicksteed & Co becomes a limited liability company

Always ahead of the curve, Charles invented and produced the first hydraulic hacksaw which quickly went into mass production. Other inventions included tube expanders and benders, bicycle stands and power drills, and even a “Wicksteed Speed Change Gearbox” that paved the way for today’s gearboxes in Grand Prix cars.

1914

Production is halted

Between 1914 and 1918 the company had to halt normal production in order to manufacture munitions for the First World War.

1918

The UK’s first playground is built

To celebrate the end of the First World War, Charles Wicksteed organised a ‘school treat’ by reportedly removing central heating pipes from the Digby Street factory to create swing frameworks in Wicksteed Park – the first leisure park in the UK. This was the start of what would one day become the first playground equipment manufacturing business in the UK.

1941

Production is halted once again

10 years after the death of Charles Wicksteed and the passing on of the business to his sons, normal production is once again halted for the manufacture of munitions for the Second World War.

1959

Wicksteed sets the standard

The first playground safety standard was published for the United Kingdom – BS3178 – based on the products manufactured by Charles Wicksteed & Co Ltd.

1979

A forerunner in safety

BS3178 was superseded by BS5696 and Wicksteed began the long process of having all of our products independently tested and Kitemarked to this safety standard, becoming the forerunner in the playground equipment industry to do this.

1983

Wicksteed Leisure is born

The company was purchased by its current owner, Lord Howard of Rising, and the business became Wicksteed Leisure Limited.

1988

The standard for quality management

Wicksteed was awarded the BS 5750 Quality Management Standard (now BS EN ISO 9001:2000) by the British Standards Institution. Wicksteed was the only manufacturer of playground equipment to hold this standard at this time, providing customers with a guarantee of the highest standard of materials and manufacturing procedures.

1997

Wicksteed expands its reach

Wicksteed purchased Mclays Playgrounds Supplies of Glasgow in Scotland, an established supplier of playground equipment that allowed us to expand our reach to the Scottish market.

1998

A major investment

All of Wicksteed’s products were kitemarked to meet the new European Safety Standard EN 1176 while major investments were made in a zinc plant installed alongside our existing polyester powder paint plant and shot blast facility. Wicksteed therefore became the only playground equipment manufacturer to use a zinc metal thermal spray pre-treatment which enabled us to provide an extremely high-quality paint finish and guarantee our paintwork against corrosion for 5 years and our structural metalwork for 25 years.

2004

Always state-of-the-art

Always wanting to stay ahead of our competitors, we installed a brand new state-of-the-art zero-emission zinc plant and shot blasting facility for quality paint finish.

2007

A total re-branding

A fresh, streamlined and inspirational new look was created as part of a total re-branding exercise. As well as a new logo, product book and website, the trading name was also changed to become Wicksteed Playscapes.

2010

Wicksteed’s commitment to the environment

Wicksteed gained the Environmental Management System Standard ISO 14001, confirming our international standards in quality and underlining the company’s commitment to the continued monitoring and reducting of the impact the company makes on the environment. In the same year, we were awarded the Business Excellence Award for Customer Service and two Playground Design Awards.

2011

Only the best for Wicksteed

Wicksteed won not one but three awards; the National Business Award for Best Large Sized Business and the Northamptonshire Business Excellence Awards for Environmental and Customer Service.

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