With the arrival of the North Staffs Railway in 1849 the Directors saw the great potential for Rudyard to become a tourist destination. They invested very heavily in Rudyard, building two stations and purchasing the bailiff’s house and converting it in to a hotel which we still know today as The Hotel Rudyard, originally owned and managed by the railway. The subsequent managers were told to do all they could to maximise train ticket sales and therefore various events were organised to attract the public. Apart from what was to become the permanent entertainment of stalls on the Dam Head along with local tea rooms, boating regattas were organised with brass bands frequently playing on the dam head. The largest crowds however attended special events such as the arrival of The African Blondin, a famous tight rope walker and Captain Webb, the first man to swim the English Channel.
Even in the Winter when the Lake would often freeze for months at a time, the Railway and their Hotel didn’t miss a trick and advertised “Come to Rudyard Lake for Winter Sports”, areas of the Lake were cleared of snow and Ice Skates hired out to the seasonal visitors.
More recently The Rudyard Lake League of Friends, formed in 1998, have organised several annual events Festivals, Fun Days, Firework and Light shows in support of the Rudyard Lake Trust and have contributed over £50,000 towards the £950,000 of improvements carried out in the interests of Lake Users & Visitors.
Plans are well underway for a major event in 2016 when in early May it is intended that a Tight Rope Walker will once again cross Rudyard Lake just as Carlos Trower (The African Blondin) did for the first time in 1861.
Currently, each year, the Lake plays host to many charitable fund raising water based events, some large, some small, some for the individual benefit of one Charity and others towards the benefit of several, including The Rudyard Lake Trust and The Chernobyl Children’s Project (UK).