When you live in the pool’ it is hard to navigate a town built for tourists. But this week Stanley Park saw the opening of a new public skatepark – something for the community by the community.
You will find the space, right alongside the BMX track and in the old skatepark space. The new skatepark has been a labour of love for local skate legend, Woody and project manager Simon Bennett who raised over £200,000 for the 100 percent concrete park. Sport England is the project’s main funder, having put up £150,000 and a further £50k came from landfill tax funding via Suez Communities Trust. Blackpool council contributed £30,000.
I have documented the build a little by Mind Work Ramps since its beginnings at the start of April and the installation motored. With folks hanging around the perimeters chomping’ at the bit to skate it or use whichever wheels their preference might be. The day finally arrived and the new park was besieged by a community of intergenerational wheel bearers. Young and old making the most of the new space built with community in mind. Where those spaces can be hard to find in a place like Blackpool with most leisure facilities geared toward tourism.
I spoke to Jess a 22-year-old female skateboarder about what the park means to her. “The park means everything, seeing the council and people who don’t necessarily understand the sport at least trying to take an interest and learn why we are doing what we do and how much positive impact skateboarding can have. It is sometimes an intergenerational experience and we are a community who look after each other equally, offering help and guidance. I can’t tell you how many times I have questioned my life’s purpose. and if it’s all worth it and then I will go for a skate and a younger person will come and tell me how amazing I am and how I’ve inspired them to skateboard and it honestly fills me with so much joy. When we have skated The Comedy Carpet we clean it, and pick up smashed beer bottles, when we go to our skate parks we leave with a bag full of rubbish, we just want to look after our town. I do beach walks every day and collect sea glass and every day I bring back a bag of rubbish because we love our town – as a resident, you might feel a spiritual connection to the sea because it is so vast and unexplored – I compare it to skateboarding, free and wild – it’s the truest form of self-expression.
It seems a good time to mention the park needs lighting – which is currently being fundraised via Tesco and listed in The Fylde Coast Tesco Stores. There is no limit to how many tokens you put in and the stores are situated on Clifton Road, Whitegate Drive, Ansdell Road, Lytham Road, St Annes Express, South Shore Blackpool Express, St Davids Road, Marton Blackpool, Fleetwood – Haff Avenue, Poulton Le Fylde, Lytham St Annes Express, Thornton Express, Westcliffe Drive, Marton Drive, Warton – Lytham Road. What could be more exciting than a floodlit skatepark that also helps create a safe space for participants of all ages. Link to Tesco sites for floodlights fundraiser
I caught up with Simon to ask how he feels now the park is finally built. “I think for me, it would be just to mention that the Tesco voting continues until end of June. We’re really grateful for all the votes so far, but please keep voting everyone. Don’t be embarrassed! Pile those tokens in! We’ve got a bid in for £10k to the Police and Crime Commissioner and are in talks with other potential funders. We really hope to be able to pull together funding to light the skatepark with specialist floodlights, which we’ve been quoted £33k for. Other than that I’m sure Woody will add along similar lines, but just a huge thank you to everyone for coming along to the opening and a huge thanks to everyone that has helped us along the way. Thanks too, to Fox brothers who stepped in and provided huge amounts of topsoil to allow us to finish the park off to a really high standard.
Woody added: “I feel relieved and excited for the future of Blackpool skateboarding, we have always had a strong scene but fragmented this hopefully will bring everyone together and from that bring an even stronger scene. it’s great to see some of the younger OG Skaters dusting their gear off and getting out again.” Simon added: “We’ve been absolutely blown away with how many users we’ve already seen using the park. We knew it would be popular, but we genuinely think we could be in a position to look ahead to a potential phase 2! If we can demonstrate a need, then we’re halfway there. So whilst me and Woody would love a rest, we may well be back pushing for more support very soon!”
The park is free and open daily. Jess Zerbato left an amazing thought with Blackpool Social Club for the Blackpool community: “Support the skateboarders, make it part of tourism, there are a million skaters in the world willing to travel just for the vibe alone.” It leads me to think about the symbiotic relationships between skaters and artists, I am excited to see what other alternative and creative happenings grow from Blackpool’s newest addition. #skateboardingisnotacrime.
Images: Claire Walmsley Griffiths
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