Spot Check: Haywards Heath

Words by Matt Newett
Photos by Lanners

With a history of competitive skateboarders and BMXers, including multi world champions dating back to the mid 80’s, it’s surprising that Haywards Heath has struggled so much to get an adequate Skatepark facility. Especially when it’s had an independent skateboard and BMX shop since 1999 and before that was home to one of the south’s most respected bike shops involved in the BMX world.

Generations of skateboarders and BMXers have come and gone, fought and failed, trying to gain even the most basic ramp setup and time after time promises have been broken. Luckily during the late 90’s the local council did become more receptive to the idea of a Skatepark and some months later after many meetings, petitions and fund raising a ramp plan and a site was decided upon. 6 months later a cheap, badly designed, dangerous half pipe was implemented instead.

Above: Matt Hill Kickflip Indy.

The local scene was devastated and over the next decade this sequence soon became all too familiar. The second Haywards Heath ramp construction had a 5 foot quarter pipe faced 4 foot away from a metal staircase and the fault was not amended for over a year. It has taken patience and strength but Haywards Heath scene stayed up beat and in the summer of 2008 we finally got our break. One of the Haywards Heath park rangers working for Mid-Sussex council began working with the locals towards building a proper facility.

Below: Park overviews.

Right: Matt Hill Blunt Fakie.

12 months later and we finally have a Skatepark to be proud of. Conceived and designed by Joel Payne of Ballyhoo and implemented by Andy Peerless and Fearless Ramps, Haywards Heath Skatepark is an amazing use of the space allocated. Incorporating the small existing ramp setup into the new wooden sections, the park is pretty tight knit, meaning that there’s lines everywhere.

The whole park can ride like a single unit, linking 4ft mini, 5ft quarters, 4ft transition jump box, 6ft quarters, 5ft volcano, various flat banks, driveway and a beastly 7ft mini.

The possibilities are literally endless and its sweet spot transitions ride smooth and fast. Anyone who knew the vibe over at the old Crawley Skateparkwill be right at home in Haywards Heath with a great local community of mixed age skaters and riders who all share respect for the park and each other. It finally feels like we have our own place to share with the wider skateboard and BMX communities and it is rewarding seeing our friends from other areas stopping by and enjoying something we helped fight for and achieve.

We have already submitted an application for floodlighting and have plans for multiple competitions and events into 2010 and beyond. Haywards Heath is back on the map. Check it out and look out for the Drawing Boards crew if you visit.

Find this skatepark at Victoria Park, South Road, Haywards Heath, West Sussex. Nearest station is Haywards Heath. Nearest skate shop is Ballyhoo. Google map from station