One of Britain's oldest theme parks goes into administration because of coronavirus

Wicksteed Park has been in operation for a century. (Google)
Wicksteed Park has been in operation for a century. (Google)

One of Britain’s oldest theme parks has been forced into administration because of “crippling costs” caused by coronavirus.

Wicksteed Park in Kettering, Northamptonshire, has been in operation for 99 years and is one of the oldest parks of its kind in the world.

Since the start pandemic arrived in the UK, however, 48 permanent staff and 67 other employees at the park have lost their jobs.

The park’s owner Oliver Wicksteed, the grandson of the its founder, now says the resort will not survive “without urgent significant support”.

“The costs of the old business were crippling and could not be sustained with the huge loss of revenue already suffered this year,” he said.

“Even if park rides opened in July, the costs of social distancing measures, and the reduced capacity at which the park would have had to operate, would have meant it was unlikely to be financially viable.”

Wicksteed claimed that, apart from the furlough scheme, there had “been no meaningful Government support for charities such as ours”.

He has now been forced to set up a public fundraising drive through JustGiving in a last-ditch effort to raise the cash needed to keep the park running.

“The park has relied on income generated, as well as charitable donations, car parking charges and, on occasion, the sale of land, to help balance the books,” he added.

“We now need people, not least the Government, to recognise all we have done for the many millions of people who need our park and our work supporting the community.”

Wicksteed said he had been “overwhelmed by messages of support” from people across the UK since launching their appeal.

Clergyman and former member of the Communards, Rev Richard Coles, said in a tweet: “Wicksteed Park has gone into administration. It was the pleasure dome of my childhood and for tens of thousands of Cytringans. A sad, sad day.”

Wicksteed Park will now be “stream-lined” company until next spring as a stop-gap measure.

The trust says it will try to continue funding the opening of the park and pavilion, and has pledged to honour annual passes and existing pavilion bookings “as soon as Government guidelines allow”.

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