Words and Photos – Jenna Selby
As well as all her efforts pioneering the UK female skate scene, Lucy Adams is one of the first women to work in the skate park construction side of the industry; this year accepting a Sales Executive role for Freestyle Skate Parks. Through which she handles enquiries, generates business and works closely with clients and user groups to develop and design new facilities – she is also able to provide some inside knowledge on the new parks springing up…
Local authorities have been investing steadily in new skate parks now for the last five years. In London alone, there has been a progressive rise this year – it’s an exciting time! The majority of Councils these days focus on working with a user-led consultation approach, which includes a meeting between the Councils, the Users and tendering Skatepark Contractors. By doing it this way Councils allow users to really get their opinions and ideas across. This is so important as it enables the Skatepark contractors to produce something that meets the needs of the local community.
We take a look at four such parks that have sprung up around the London Compass:
Just North of the Capital, Hemel Hempstead’s XC recently opened it’s doors to the public. The huge project, which was backed by government’s funds, boasts the only indoor concrete pool and bowl complex in the UK (with a wooden street course). Lucy – Coming up with a final design for the park had its challenges but was quite a straightforward process. Included in the discussion group were names who’ve been part of the industry for some time, including Nick Zorlac and Dan Cates (Death Skateboards) and Nick Powley (UKSA) amongst many other skaters, BMXers and Inline Skaters.
Over in the East, work is currently underway on Hackney’s new skate park – Victoria Park. The facility will consist mainly of a 5-8 foot large bowl with sharp hips and a full cradle (the 2nd in the UK) – the reason behind such a big bowl was due to the majority of the user group being from a BMX background. Although it sounds quite limiting for skaters, designers Wheelscape did also push quite hard for a small street course to be added into the designs. Work has just about finished on the park and there should be an official opening jam for it sometime before the end of the year.
Down to the South of the City, the old steel ramps which have adorned the Clapham landscape for several years now are currently being torn down to be replaced by a new concrete plaza with a tarmac surround. Lucy – The site was rather large, and actually too big for it to be entirely concrete with the given budget. With this in mind, we designed the park to be a circa 500m2 float finish concrete park surrounding by tarmac (a high standard spec) with features including ledges and rails which will enable you to skate the perimeter. Within the concrete park, there are your popular features including a miniramp, driveway, hip, and flat banks. More innovative features include a set of steps, which can be skated in the traditional way or skated off the side. There is also a curved ledge on a taco shaped bank, an ‘MJ’ block and whippy quarter with pool coping.
And finally in West London, Ealing Skate Park has just been finished. Situated next to the Gurnell Leisure Centre, the park is home to a bowl, street course and mimiramp. The mini though is slightly different to your regular ramp – it’s been set with pool coping Lucy – different materials are good so long as they’re used in a practical way and not just novelty value. With pool coping, its often the case when designing a whippy transition that it has that pool feel; therefore why not put pool coping on it!
The reason for the overall rise in concrete parks in and around the Capital and elsewhere in the country is because they work out beneficial to all parties; skaters and riders like the consistent surface and the flowing lines that concrete allows, and Councils appreciate the minimum maintenance and lower noise solution. Lucy – I think the users deserve a lot of credit for creating campaigns and petitions and getting local Councillors and those in positions of responsibility to listen. Concrete skateparks are built to last!
So London get on it!
If you think your town or village needs a new park, get together with other users and get active! Facebook campaigns are easy to set up and can help demonstrate the need to your local council. Create some noise and some good publicity for the cause! Let’s keep working hard to create bigger and better facilities in the UK!
Skate Park Finder –
Ealing Skate Park, Gurnell Leisure Centre, Ruislip Road East, London W13 0AL
XC Skate Park, Jarman Park, Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, HP2 4JS (www.thexc.co.uk)
Clapham Skate Park, Long Road, Clapham Common, London, SW4 (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Clapham-Common-Skate-Park/144717115599888)
Victoria Park Skate Park, Victoria Park, Grove Road, Hackney, London E3 5TN