Behind the blag of Blag Rock DIY

Photos: Rich West / Red Bull UK

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Brighton’s skate scene has a pirate mentality. It always felt like walking the plank dropping into the Level back in the late 80s, you never knew whether you would be eaten alive by the Pig City locals, or walk away stoned and happy. That usually depended on what you had in your locker, what you could put down and leave on their turf – if you could get a run, that is.

The Pig City legacy from 1986 is one of hard graft, it carries a never-say-die attitude like a warning flag still fluttering in the English Channel winds. This summer, David Wheatland and Justin ‘Pasty’ Ashbury‘s latest DIY crew were on a mission to build Brighton locals a new home. Blag Rock was born and now sits tightly against the the beach getting sessioned when weather allows. Wheatland has spent the last few months arguing online with local shops about bucket collections and DIY ethics but local vibes and opinions aside, these guys made it happen with whatever they had to hand and nailed it.

David, please spill the beans on your DIY past for those not in the know.

Pig City, as a lot of your readers will already know, is the name that relates to our city, the skate scene, the establishment and the skate company here in Brighton. We’ve been creating DIY places to skate since day one of the UK skate scene and our city has a mass of history spanning four decades. I’ve enjoyed many years of DIY experience starting back in the early 90’s helping the older guys make their DIY mini ramps in Shoreham-by-Sea but we have guys in our DIY crew like Justin Ashby who also made the Level vert ramp back in the day with the infamous Pig City boys.

DIY spots come and go sadly, but how do you fund them at this level?

Our last spot was amazing but sadly got taken down, so this year we really went for it to get a rad spot that we could secure from being ripped down early. Last year we took part in the Red Bull DIY build your own spot comp and we worked with a local shop that got us the concrete and tools for free. I manage the boys and make sure I get them stuff and I been getting all the donations for them with tools and supplies.

Ph: Nick Roberts nose bonks on the Blag.

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How did finding the land at Blag Rock take shape?

I went with Fay from the Level to check out this ‘Black Rock’ spot after a local council worker and friend Ricardo said the site was available to use for a temporary “exhibit space”, so Rick and Fay set up a meeting with the seafront officer. We drove there to meet the council at the spot and to my surprise and excitement, I spotted potential building materials we could ever need there. Tons and tons of sand and hard core, pallets, scaffolding, sheets and sheets of thick ply and piles of 2×4 long lengths of timber. Without saying a word, we discussed what was required to rent/lease this nearly 100m secure compound. The main thing we needed next was was insurance. We tried to get quotes but we knew we would run out of time as there was a few companies wanting to use this spot, namely the Brighton Marina building company who we later end up calling Hanson. Pretty much all of the boys were like “fuck this, we need to get building and can’t be arsed with going the legitimate route of building at this spot”, so we pretty much went rouge and got cracking.

A video posted by @jakesparham on

So you didn’t have to sign any paper work or actually rent the area then? How did they not notice what was occurring then?

They did, but the sea front office lady was nice and the building company site director turned out to be an old friend of Danny Wainwright. We had this imaginary scale that just went up and up, a chart of how much this spot had to give over the months of build time.

If in doubt just put it in Peter Hewitt’s name.

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Who designed the layout, or did you just build as you went along?

It naturally just came into shape. We first started with a test build to check out this type of sand we have never previously used, but first, we needed shelter from the wind to chill in and skin up. Actually, the main reason is that we needed to find somewhere for Pasty to sleep, so we started off by building Pasty’s shed.

Ah, good old Pasty eh, the skateboarder with a thousand stories. I’m sure you have a few…

Haha! I have a few for sure, but Ladislav Guzsela, the site manager, told me he got knock on the door on the morning of the caravan demolition. He’d been given a short amount of time to remove his stuff and tried to wake Pasty up. As he opened his eyes, he declared that “none of this shit is mine” and went back to sleep. When Ladi left, the demolition guy said, “I’d better go and make sure no one is in there before they put a JCB through it”. When the guy went in there check, Justin was still asleep under a cover. Close call.

Pasty: Yeah, I wasn’t gonna move until Ladi smashed the window on me where I was sleeping. I wasn’t happy. I started smashing shit up while Ladi was freaking out shouting: “Get up, the bailiffs are here!”

Ladislav: The council asked as to leave the place and we didn’t so they evicted us from the caravans and after 2 weeks they brought a machine in and destroyed the trailers, where I was living with Adam {Moog). At the time loads of traveler’s where set up the road so little pikies were destroying our ramps. I let the dog chase them out.

Get to know Blag Rock from this new edit featuring Stevie Thompson and more.

Usually these things come and go so quickly, have then been threats of losing it to other locals wanting the space?

We were at the spot building just three days in when we heard that it was going to be taken over by a building company, by a guy squaring up one of the two large caravans on site. The caravans had been there for just over a year, used by a sand sculpture guy who used this area for sand creations. This guy was really sound and gave use a spare key for the gate, giving us easy access door that opened up right onto our build. We asked the guy about using the caravan next door to him and after a few days getting to know us he give Moog. Ladi and Pasty the key. Really sick van, we were so stoked.

By this time we had three quarter pipes, a pump bump and a big bit of floor space completed and our tool shed was looking sweet. We were cracking on when two guys start walking over wearing high viz apparel looking all official. We chatted to them about who we are what we doing and he told us that the site director for the building company in the Marina and that he had a massive project on the go. They wanted this land for open storage, so we asked if it’s going effect our little corner, and he said it will in a month or so, until he gets the land. As an old friend of Wainwright’s, he wouldn’t do anything to our spot with chatting to us about it, which was nice. So we’ve had it since then and seen many sessions go down.

Were any of the obstacles given local names?

We have a corner curb stone that we put in the corner as a wally transfer, which we called the hernia affair.

Where is the spot at now in terms of build?

Black Rock has been used by graf artists all round the country for 20 years, also there have been many illegal raves here so building in this spot just felt right. This place is like a desert with a fort round it. The spot was hard work for sure, but it’s come together at last. It’s a great place to chill out by the beach.

To this day it’s constantly being modified and worked on every other week. It now has cobbled coping, a big wally gap and a new drain has been laid in the deep end. We had a amazing time on this spot and I was stoked to see so many skaters pro’s and bro’s come from all over to skate it. Some of them coming down and not even going to the new Level park, just us! Next year we will get a new spot somewhere rad in Pig City, watch this space.

Follow Pig City on Facebook and pick up their clothing from this online shop. Also be aware of the fund raiser that is currently running in Brighton to help fund a new indoor park, your donations will be gratefully received.

Fresh Blood: Isaac Miller

Portrait: Ranny

isaac_miller_crossfire The South Coast of England is spawning some great skateboarders right now but with its rich skate history etched into the books it’s hardly a surprise. The scene down in Brighton has never been tighter, the urethane is getting worn faster than ever and this vibrant coastal town keeps throwing up more talent than ever before.

One of Brighton’s lurkers who has always graced our Crossfire events is Isaac Miller. He sneaked a perfect switch flip into the unsponsored comp at last year’s Xmas Jam and took the dough until we released he repped for Drawing Boards, one of the UK’s most creative skater owned companies out there. This month we decided to visit Brighton to catch up with him and find out what makes him tick. Isaac Miller is this month’s Fresh Blood.

Thanks to AD, Ranny, Smay, Rich West and Ginge for their help to put this together plus the Level Army crew who are still fighting for as decent skate park down there. We’ve got your backs 100% here.

How is life treating you Isaac?

Life is good, as always! I’m just at college studying carpentry right now. I have been skating loads and filming for the forthcoming Drawing Boards video (Draw the Line) and Ed Hubert’s ‘Like’ video.

Before we get into a few questions, we see you have been at the Velodrome for a few tricks. Want to shine light on this little Olympic edit?

Well, we were on tour around the South Coast and Ed took us to the Velodrome cycle track so we just walked in! 10 tricks went down!

So, with Brighton being your home town, would you say you are you addicted to skating at the Level?

The Level is like a magnet so it’s hard to stay any distance too far from it! I have leaped a few years at the Level. I like skating there because it’s easier to skate without hassle and abuse from the general public. I started skating there when I was 12 and have been there and round a-bouts ever since. On a bad week I get there 5 out of 7 days. Haha!

What are your thoughts on the new plans for the park?

They keep promising a skate park with plans, meetings etc and have been for the past decade or so but nothing has happened as of yet. I’d love to see the new Level finished by the end of the year though like everyone else.

Who’s your favorite Level local of all time?

There are a lot of Levelers! Over the time I’ve spent down there everyone one and everything I have seen has been a real inspiration. So many tricks have been conquered at the Level is hard to underline any skater in particular.

Tell us 3 good things about Brighton.

La Vida (sandwich bar close to the Level), Skateboarding and that there’s loads of stuff to do, day and night.

Tell us 3 bad things about Brighton.

Level, Level and Level. Haha!

You were hooked up pretty young by Pasty and Pig City, is that correct?

Pig City was one of the first Brighton companies set up by Justin Ashby and a dude called Simon. It was really good going places with Pasty and getting to know as well as being inspired by the likes of Andy Scott, Josh Parr and Pete Dossett.

Who are your influences you in skating?

I like to taste the rainbow. Level Army! Sunshine, Transworld, Enjoi and Drawing Boards of course.

Do you watch skate videos?

Yeah, I’m into Transworld videos, Flip ‘Sorry’, Enjoi vids, Tilt Mode Army, 411 and stuff like that.

Switch gap ollie on a beach where Mods and Rockers once clashed. Photo: Rich West

What’s the best trick you’ve seen to date?

I saw Ben Raemers pull a boneless to noseblunt in the massive bowl at Penzance skate park in Cornwall once. That was pretty mental. Liam Teague eating concrete and Matt (Potter) Hill’s stepping up a ten flight first go. Haha! Ummm, Sam Beckett flying high on a vert ramp as well. Oh, and Black Thong (Jak Tonge) skating in odd shoes with a late night muffin!

What are your thoughts on Benihanas?

Don’t like ’em.

Then why do them?!

Cause they feel good at the time!

Aha, I’m sure Potter can relate to that feeling. So, you’ve been on a fair few trips with Drawing Boards including Barca, what was your favourite spot on that trip and spots in general?

The park in Clot, Besos, but no faves, just too many good spots. I like going on missions in Brighton to the schools and local spots on nice sunny days. Also the Beach front (West Pier) kickers and blocks.

A trip to the infamous Bloblands produces a large ollie fakie. Photo by Ranny

How’s your part coming along for the Drawing Boards DVD?

I’ve been filming for way over a year now, so should be about soon. There will be some surprises in there for sure so keep your clogs intact for this one! AD has been a real help. It’s so good not having to worry about the next board.

And the ‘Like’ video part?

The fact that it’s another Ed Hubert production means it will be rad. Ed’s a joker, Bill’s a piper, James is a juggler. It should be sick.

Who do you skate with down there?

Bare brehs, The Level Army, Drawing Boards and Brighton heads.

What do you do outside of skating?

Get paralytic, chill, run, walk, cycle, fish with my dad and go from A to B socialising. Mainly socialism and pushin’ woodism.

What direction do you see skateboarding going in?

Mate I don’t really know – left, right, anywhere and beyond.

Any shouts?

Shouts out to Mum, Dad and bro for all the support and all my mates from the Level. Fin is on (cloudnine), George, Connor, Dyllan, Cob, Amir, Pasty, Stevie, The Level Army. AD and all the Drawing Boards team. Black Thong you know who you are. No equal.

Enjoy this backside flip. Photo: Ranny

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AD will leave you with his personal lowdown on Isaac:

“Isaac consumes more cheese and fish than any man I have ever met. Perhaps this is the secret to his boundless energy. Isaac is pretty much on fire right now. Filming 2 video parts as well as steadily destroying parks and street all over the shop. Although he is still young, in the big scheme of things he’s put some serious time into his skating. So when you see him floating round the Level and ask yourself “how the hell did he do that?!” The answer is simple, he put his mind to it. However mad he is off a skateboard, the second he steps on it he becomes fully focused (even at midnight after a trip to the boozer). Stoked to have Isaac repping Drawing Boards. So much more to come…”

Watch Isaac’s Royal Warm Up at Meanwhile 2 filmed by Ginge.