19The First Public Slide
The world's first public playground slide, as we know it, was built in Kettering, in the North of England in 1922. Wicksteed Park was the brainchild of Charles Wicksteed who had become very wealthy through making munitions during the World War I. Aware of his good fortune he
wanted to give something back to the local community and so the park that bears his name was born.
An engineer by training Wicksteed built equipment for the children to play on and this is where the first slide was made. Two slides were built side by side, one for the boys and one for the girl. Wicksteed said in an interview later in life “that seems silly now, but at the time I had the quaint idea that boys and girls should play separately.”
The slides were made of wood, and splinters were an accepted hazard. Three long planks were affixed to each other with nothing to hold onto. The one exception was the very top of the taller boys slide which had a short guard rail at the top of the 13-foot ladder. The runs were also very straight causing the children to gain a great deal of speed. No curve at the end to slow you down back in those days.