|The Rushden Echo, 23rd December 1966, transcribed by Jim Hollis
Rushden is world’s newest ski resort
Rushden has sprouted another landmark a 60ft high miniature mountain with an artificial snow ski slope over 200 feet long which can be used all the year round.
The slope, which cost something like £12,000, is the brain child of Mr. John Wills, proprietor of Rushden Skew Bridge Water Ski Club, and he thinks it makes the club unique.
“I think it is the only club in the world where you can water ski and snow ski on the one club premises,” he said.
The slope, which is covered in a plastic bristle, almost like thousands and thousands of toothbrushes, is the largest of its kind in the country, except for one in Scotland which has been built on the side of a natural mountain.
Although you would never guess it now, the slope was at one time just a large mound of earth. To knock into shape he has used something like 2,000 tons of top soil, 3,500 square yards of turf and hundreds of trees and bulbs.
There is a bump, called the nursery, half way down the slope where the inexperienced and children can ski from.
At the moment, Mr. Wills has a professional ski instructor, Mr. Joe Hohl, who was born in Switzerland, taking special coaching sessions on Saturdays and Sundays.
“Because of the terrific demand I have not been able to open the slope to the general public. One person who uses the slope covers a 200 mile round trip to do so. Because of the demand and from a safety point of view I can only allow members of the public who have experience in skiing to use the slope,” Mr. Wills said. “Eventually I hope to have a full-time ski instructor, and then we will probably be able to cope with complete novices.”
Is it an expensive sport? Mr. Wills said it was possible to hire all the ski equipment for 2s 6d a session from the club. The cost of each run works out at about 10s. There is also a 5s charge per day for temporary members.
The slope is fitted with floodlighting for night skiing and there is even piped music.
But seriously, other than the obvious advantage of having any additional sporting amenity in the area, there are other not so obvious advantages.
Mrs. Mary Wills said she had been told by an experienced ski enthusiast that one could be taught to ski on an artificial slope between three and ten days quicker than on snow.
“People who go on ski holidays find that half their time is taken up learning how to control and stand up,” she said.
“If people have experience of skiing on an artificial slope it only takes them a matter of days to get used to snow, and they can spend the rest of their holiday skiing,” he said.
Although it is an artificial slope all the thrills of genuine skiing can be found. The expert can reach speeds of 20 to 30 miles an hour down the 200 foot slope.
The fact that Rushden should have one of the best artificial ski slopes in the country there are only three or four could put Rushden on the snow ski map.
Anglia Television plan to show a 12 minute film of people using the slope on Boxing Day.