Not originally coming from Staffordshire, and even though I’ve lived here since I left my hometown of Leicester in the summer of 2002 to start university and pretty much spending half of my life here now, I still very much love exploring the county and neighbouring counties for places we can enjoy as a family.
I loved family days out when I was young and its one of the things I can actually remember very clearly, they usually ended up in a pub somewhere granted but the days felt so long (in a good way) the weather was always fantastic and I loved writing all about my weekends in school the following week.
One of the local places of interest we love visiting as a family is Rudyard Lake. Situated near Leek on the Staffordshire-Cheshire border the two and a half mile long lake is a Staffordshire beauty spot and a gorgeous place to just wander around, enjoy a lovely walk, jump on a steam train and eat some lovely cake.
So when I heard that Wild Rumpus, the producers of the award winning family festival, Just So, were planning a 3 day event (30 April, 1 & 2 May 2016) reimagined as it was in the late 1800s as an excursion place for thousands of day trippers who were taken out of their day to day lives by watching spectacular feats and outdoor arts of the age, I was keen to know more especially if it promises to be as fantastic as our experience at last years Just So Festival.
On closer inspection, Rudyard Lake has an amazing past as one of the early examples of mass tourism in the UK and was known as “the Blackpool of the Potteries” Designed by engineer John Rennie, work started in 1797 with completion 3 years later to supply water for the expanding canal system, a vital artery for the industrial revolution. It still supplies this water today under the management of The Canal & River Trust. The arrival of the North Staffordshire Railway in 1849 and excursion trains from Manchester and the Potteries led to it becoming one of the most popular tourist destinations of the time.
Up to 20, 000 people a day would visit to watch cutting edge spectacles and incredible feats including Captain Webb who hosted a “Grand Aquatic Fete” in 1877 to demonstrate his prowess in being the first person to swim the channel and Carlos Trower, “The African Blondin” a celebrated tightrope walker who walked across the lake a hundred feet above the water in 1864 and 1878, drawing huge crowds 30 years after the abolition of slavery in the UK. Visitors to the lake included John Lockwood Kipling and Alice MacDonald who named their son Rudyard Kipling after the beauty spot where they first met.
Awaiting day trippers for three days only will be spellbinding outdoor arts and performance. A series of spectaculars on the lake will include a recreation of Carlos Trower, “The African Blondin’s” daring tightrope walk by Chris Bull, high-wire walker otherwise known as ‘Bullzini’ of the Bullzini Family. On a floating stage on the lake will be showstopping performances from “the finest purveyors of Circus Swing” Gabby Young & Other Animals, the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra Ensemble and glorious vintage dry land synchronised swimming routines from Yorkshire Life Aquatic.
Accompanying events on the shore will include walkabout performance, storytelling and marching bands. Don’t miss the Victorian Bather’s Juggling Show and other circus sideshows plus Mesmerising Mermaids who have emerged from the depths of Rudyard Lake and who will be joined by their fish-juggling, shanty singing sailors. Take in great views from the Helter Skelter and Swing Boats on the Dam Head, rowing boats and boat trips on the lake and donkey and steam train rides along the shore. Snap up exceptional craft and vintage finds from the Treacle Market, enjoy street food and local ales.
A Day At The Lake will be the first event of this scale at Rudyard Lake for over 100 years and marks the first Staffordshire Day on 1 May 2016 – a day of celebration of the heritage of Staffordshire to mark 1000 years since the county was first mentioned in the Anglo Saxon Chronicle and we’ll be attending and I can’t wait….!
Advance Tickets are on sale now costing £14 per adult, £7 per child. Under 3s go free. Admission includes all performances and entertainment with small additional charges for rides and boat trips.
Until Next Time
NB: We are ambassadors for Wild Rumpus events and will be attending A Day at the Lake as part of our role. This is an informative post however any opinions remain my own.